ARBIL / Aswat al-Iraq: The Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan region announced on Thursday that next Saturday and Sunday will be official holidays on the Ashura occasion.
"Saturday and Sunday (November 24, 25) will be an official holiday throughout the region on Ashura occasion," the Council of Ministers said in a statement received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
The Shiite pilgrims were heading to the city of Samarra to visit the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi, before turning to the holy Shiite city of Karbala to mark the major Shiite ritual of Ashura.
The 10-day annual Ashura mourning rite, the holiest of the Shiite religious calendar, which marks the death in 680 AD of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Shiite mourners usually gather in processions in their towns and cities before they move on foot or buses to the holy shrines in Karbala, some 108 km southwest of Baghdad.