Arba’een at Karbala becomes World’s largest religious eventMillions of people from around the world travel to Iraq each year to partake in the annual Arba’een processions, which over the past years have grown into the largest human gathering of any kind. Each year, to mourn their third Imam, Muslims set off on a symbolic 80-kilometer walk that begins from Najaf, where his father Imam Ali is buried, to the holy city of Karbala, where Imam Hussein’s holy shrine is located.Accommodating the pilgrims along the road, as well as in both Najaf and Karbala, are thousands of make-shift tents, also known as mawkibs, that provide a wide range of services from food to medical care and massages, all free of cost. The event has over the past few years attracted global attention following the emergence of the Daesh terrorist group (ISIS), which sought to raze all historically and religiously significant sites in Iraq and Syria under the influence of their Takfiri ideology.Despite the global attention that it has received and its sheer size, however, most Western media adamantly give the Arba’een gathering as little coverage as possible. Compare this with the wide coverage they give to rare scenes of flagellation by a tiny number of individuals during Ashura – a practice strictly prohibited and admonished by top. Unofficial sources suggest that this year’s Arba’een walk was the largest to date, with some 21 million in attendance between October 4 and 19.Of that number, 17 million people were Iraqi citizens, a whopping 40 percent of the country’s population. That’s also 75 percent of the Arab country’s Shia Muslims in total.On Saturday, the day of Arba’een, more than 15 million people converged on Karbala.Overall, people from more than 70 countries took part in this year’s Arba’een. Over 3.5 million Iranians used several border crossings with the neighboring Iraq to take part in the event. A little girl serving water to Zae’reen A devotee serving Zae’reen e Imam Hussain Natives serving food to Zae’reen Food being served during Arba’een walk Iraqi natives preparing food for Zae’reen Natives serving during Arba’een walk People of Karbala polishing Zaereen’s shoes for Virtue during Arba’een walk People from all over the world participating in Arba’een walk Zae’reen marching towards KarbalaPakistan had the third largest number of pilgrims at 500,000. People from India, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia also attended in high numbers.The Arba’een walk of this year was also unique in that it had 500 different starting points from various cities and villages across Iraq. This is unmatched by any other rally in the world.The organizers, who were mainly comprised of Iraqi citizens as well as nationals of other countries, dished out some 125 million of meals, 150 million liters of water and more than 500,000 tons of fruits and vegetables. That’s an average of some 8 million meals a day for 15 straight days.More than 600,000 medical doctors, engineers, chefs, construction workers, drivers, translators and religious scholars from around the world volunteered to serve Arba’een pilgrims completely free of charge.Thousands of Imam Hussein’s devotees among Sunni Muslims, Christians and Mandaeans also took part in this year’s Arba’een walk.Overall, people donated more than $500 million to this year’s processions, more than $100 million of that was funded by the people of Najaf.The donations ranged from 250 Iraqi dinars (20 cents) to 650 million Iraqi dinars ($500,000).