The first moon of the Islamic lunar month of Muharram was celebrated by Muslims around the world on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Hijri year of 1437.
The Hijri year also marks the exodus of Muslims from the city of Mecca to the city of Medina 1,437 years ago, an event known by Muslims as the Hijra.
The month of Muharram, along with starting a new year, it's also related to the Battle of Karbala, when Imam Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed by the army of the second Umayyad caliph Yazid in Karbala, Iraq.
According to Islamic tradition, the 10th day of Muharrem is Ashura, which translates to “ten” in Arabic. The number 10 is significant in the month of Muharram for its reference on 10 different types of food served to the Prophet Muhammad by God.
After the Prophet Muhammad led his followers to Madina, he found the Jews in the area observing fasting on the day of Ashura. Jews believe that the Hebrews were saved from the Pharaoh on the 10th day of Muharram and also fast on that day.
The Prophet Muhammad affirmed the Islamic claim to fast and from that day on forward, Muslims have fasted on combinations of two or three consecutive days including the 10th of Muharram.
However, Shiite Muslims reject celebrating the day of Ashura. Instead they commemorates the 13th day of Muharram as a mourning day for the Prophet Muhammad's slain grandson Hussein.
Ashura is also the name given to traditional pudding eaten on that day, known in English as Noah's Pudding. According to tradition, the pudding is made of ingredients that were carried by Prophet Noah on his ark and has been eaten as a meal ever since.
Tradition states that Noah's Ark also hit land on the day of Ashura.