Being in Mashhad for business I spent a few hours in the late afternoon visiting the Holy Shrine of Mashhad. The sun is already going down and the shadows in the street are getting longer. From my hotel it is a 10 minutes walk to the Holy Shrine and I am among a lot of others in this direction. The Holy Shrine is the number 1 place in this city and is every year visited by more than 10 million people; both shias and sunnis. Imam Reza, buried in the Holy Shrine was the 8th Imam of 12 Shiites.
By the entering the area I am picked up by guide for the complex. In daily life he is working as a lawyer; this he is doing on a volunteer basis. Walking through the complex is an amazing experience. More than 10 centuries of religion, architecture and art are brought together here and it gives a great view on the history and religion of the region. But not only history; workers a laying carpets in the different courtyards outside as a preparation for the 8 hours prayer. Everywhere I see people, men and women, reading the Koran. In another area preparations are made for the evening, in the Ramadan period very important. Local people living in Mashhad can attend, they will serve here for 2000 people in just 5 minutes, amazing.
Lots of people are working here and a big part of these are volunteers, they have other jobs in daily life outside the complex. Those controlling and guiding the crowds are having a coloured feather broom. In my memory this was used at home fro cleaning the furniture from dust. Funny to see a new application for this. The different colors (green, yellow, blue, red and brown) of the broom correspond with different tasks and jobs.
In the centre of the complex the mausoleum of Imam Imam Reza is located, directly beneath the golden dome within the Mosque. The scenery is unique; the place is crowded, lots of people are visiting the tomb, trying to touch the tomb and all of them are very emotionally, they are scarifying their religion. They are leaving backwards the tomb, not drawing their back towards the Imam.
Outside the Mosque the sun is setting and more and more people are coming in for attending the evening prayer.
More information about this Holy shrine can be found on Wikipedia.