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The Mourning of Ashura – A Photography Workshop in Ahmedabad

July 17 @ 1:30 pm - 5:30 pm

The Mourning of Ashura - A Photography Workshop in Ahmedabad


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Join me on a photography workshop where you get introduced to documentary-style photography on the occasion of Ashura, a day of mourning for Shia Muslims.

About Ashura

Ashura is a Muslim holy day observed on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. On Ashura, Shia Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali and his companions, who died at the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. The death of Imam al-Hussein is considered by the Shias to be a symbol of humanity’s struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression.

Rituals on Ashura consist of public expressions of mourning. Sermons recounting events of the battle Karbala are delivered at gatherings known as majlis. Some also practice matam – self-flagellation with chains and the blunt ends of swords to exemplify the suffering Imam al-Hussein experienced shortly before his death.

Decorated and colourful taziyas – replicas of the tomb of Imam Hussain are taken out in procession. During the procession, observers dressed in black clothes parade through the streets while chanting Ya Hussain and beating their chests.

documentary-style photography workshop in Ahmedabad by Parvez Shaikh

About the workshop

The workshop begins with a brief about Ashura. Participants are introduced to documentary-style photography as well. We discuss the importance of ethics when it comes to portraying people mourning. Safety precaution to take during the workshop are also discussed at this point.

We will then observe matam rituals where people dressed in black gently beat their chest and head. We will also observe men practicing self-flagellation that exemplifies the suffering Imam Husayn experienced shortly before his death. This follows by us joining the procession of taziyas.

Participants will be guided with camera setup, framing, camera angles etc. to help them photograph the rituals. A review of images taken during the workshop will be done at a later time and honest feedback will be provided.

What we won’t discuss:

  • Photography history and basics
  • How to operate your equipment. You must know how to change settings/modes on your camera
  • Which camera brand is best etc. No “gear talk”
  • Post processing

What to bring:

  • A keen desire to learn
  • A spirit of community
  • Plenty of patience
  • A digital camera (or film camera if that’s what you prefer). A wide angle lens like 23mm, 27mm or 35mm recommended
  • Extra batteries and SD cards or film rolls
  • Bottle of water
  • Comfortable shoes and clothes
  • Rain jacket
  • Plastic/other protection for your equipment in case of rain

Things to keep in mind:

  • Ashura is not a ‘celebration.’ It’s a day of mourning. Be respectful of the people and their rituals
  • The workshop takes place in a fast-paced environment. You must be able to move swiftly and not obstruct people performing rituals
  • This workshop is not suitable for people below 18 years of age
  • People including children engage in self-flagellation during Ashura which might be sensitive for some to observe

What is not included in the fees:

  • Your travel-related expense, parking fees etc.
  • Your meals
  • Any other personal expense


  • Registration is mandatory
  • Walk-ins or unregistered guests are not allowed
  • You are responsible for the safety of yourself as well as your equipment and other things you are carrying
  • No refund once the payment is made


July 17
1:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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Meeting Point

Riyaz Hotel
Jamalpur Chakla, Beside Shital Dairy, Jamalpur
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