A traditional activity during the Muharram Ashura commemorations is that various communities in Bahrain do different things, all of which are helping each other, especially taking care of the less fortunate by giving alms and/or food. The food is cooked by various entities and distributed for free to everyone who wants it.
The "Ajam Bahrainis" – that is, Bahrainis of Iranian descent have traditionally taken their part in these important festivities and cooked a specialty meal called "Shilla" which is really a very thick vegetable and meat broth containing many types of vegetables, rice, pulses and other goodness.
These pictures were taken at our neighbour’s father’s house who have made it into a tradition to cook Shilla every 5th of Muharram every single year and donate it all to the community. The pots, if you’re interested, have a capacity of 850 kilograms of food, and they cook 3 of these huge pots every year!
To take part in cooking the meal is considered auspicious for as you are helping in feeding the people, then God will take care of you, and so will Imam Hussain, the Prophet’s grandson who was killed in the famous Battle of Karbala in modern day Iraq at the hands of Yazid, the 2nd Umayyad ruler.
Another tradition done at the same time is lighting "wishing candles" and placing them in the vicinity of these huge pots. You can also wish whatever your heart desires while stirring the pot or helping in preparing the meal. They say that this is a potent way to get your wish granted.
Regardless of the superstitious nature of the event, the good thing about the whole Ashura thing is the community nature of the event, not only in communal mourning, but in communal giving and communal sharing.
It is traditions like these which enriches Bahrain as it celebrates its diversity, even though it is only 700 square kilometers in size!
For more information about the Muharram Commemorations around the world, please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_of_Muharram
update 17:53: links to Bahraini Muharram activities (pictures and video clips): http://www.al-imam.net/media and http://www.al-imam.net/gallery