Category Archives: Culture

Easter 2017 in Iran (Photos)

This Easter was celebrated by all Christian denominations on the same day, which is unusual. The date usually differs, often even by weeks, between Eastern and Western Christianity, since the calculations are based on the Julian calendar and Gregorian calendar respectively.

Like last Christmas, Muslims in Abadan joined on Easter Sunday the single Christian family in the city at Surp Karapet Church.

The majority of Iranian Christians are ethnic Armenians and Assyrians, who follow the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East respectively. Armenians celebrate the Nativity and baptism of Jesus on January 6, at the same time as the Epiphany. The Assyrians today celebrate Christmas on December 25.

Photos: St. Grigor Lusavoritch Church and St. Sarkis Cathedral in Tehran

Sources: Tasnim News, IRNA, Mehr News, Fars News, Payvand News, Wikipedia

Photos: Christians and Muslims celebrate Christmas in Iran

The bell of Surp Karapet Church in Abadan, Khuzestan Province, rang before noon of Christmas Day on December 25, for the only Christian family of the city. Muslim citizens of Abadan joined the feast to wish this family a happy Christmas and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with them.

Surp Karapet, the church of Abadan’s Gregorian Armenians, lies adjacent to Imam Musa Ibn Ja’far Mosque. It was constructed in the 1950s, repaired in 1996 and reopened in 1999, since 40% of the building was damaged during the eight-year war. It is registered as an Iranian national monument and used to serve as the largest hall of meetings for Abadan’s Armenians.

Iran is one of the safest places in the Middle East for Christians with many Iranians loving the flashy side of Christmas. Shoppers gathered over the past month in the Armenian districts of Somayeh and New Julfa — the biggest Christian areas in Tehran and Isfahan — to pick up fake trees and stock up on baubles, reindeer toys and plastic snowmen.

The majority of Iranian Christians are ethnic Armenians and Assyrians, who follow the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East respectively. Armenians celebrate the Nativity and baptism of Jesus on January 6, at the same time as the Epiphany. The Assyrians today celebrate Christmas on December 25.

Early traditions observed the birth of Jesus Christ on January 6 but by the end of the 3rd century, Christmas in Rome was moved to December 25, to override a pagan feast dedicated to the birth of the sun. Since 1923, the Armenian Apostolic Church has mainly used the Gregorian Calendar. The only exception is the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where the old Julian calendar is used, putting Nativity celebrations on 19 January in the Gregorian calendar.

Photos: Christmas shopping in Tehran and Isfahan, Surp Karapet Church in Abadan (Khuzestan) and liturgies at Surp Mesrob Church in Arak (Markazi), Vank Cathedral in Isfahan, and St. Grigor Lusavoritch Church, St. Joseph Church, St. Sarkis Cathedral, St. Targmantchats Church and Surp Vardanantz Church in Tehran

Sources: France 24, armenianchurch-ed.net, Wikipedia | Christianity in the Middle East (Iran), Wikipedia | Christmas traditions (Assyrians), Wikipedia | Armenian Apostolic Church, Mehr News Agency (in Persian), Tehran (BORNA 1, BORNA 2, ISNAIRNA, ANA), Isfahan (IRNA), Surp Karapet Church, Abadan (Iran Front Page, Twitter @afptehran, instagram @sara_kaabii, instagram @majid.rahimi1), Surp Mesrob, Arak (ISNA), Vank Cathedral, Isfahan (IRNA, Tasnim News Agency), St. Grigor Lusavoritch, Tehran (BORNA), St. Joseph’s, Tehran (Twitter @ali_noorani_teh, Mail Online), St. Sarkis Cathedral, Tehran (Mehr News Agency, IRNA 1, ANA, IRNA 2), St. Targmantchats, Tehran (ANA), Surp Vardanantz, Tehran (BORNA)

Photos: Sizdah bedar ( Nature day ) in Iran

Sizdah Be-dar, literally “thirteenth in outdoors”, is an Iranian festival, and part of the Nowruz celebration rituals, held annually on the thirteenth day of the first month of the Iranian calendar (Farvardin). It is celebrated by leaving the house to spend the day outdoors, picnicking and enjoying nature. Thus this festival is also known as “Nature Day”.

A ritual performed at the end of the picnic is to throw away the sabzeh (greenery on the haft-sin table) part of the traditional table setting for Nowruz in Iran. Doruq-e Sizdah, the Iranian version of the prank-playing April Fools’ Day is also celebrated on this day.

Sizdah Bedar is customary to Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan and some parts of Central Asia. In cities with large populations of Iranians, like Los Angeles, it is common to see families celebrating Sizdah Bedar across the city.

Related article: The other Iran | Sizdah Bedar 2015

Photos: Sizdah Bedar 2016 in Iran – Picnicking outdoors on a sunny, rainy and even a snowy day!

Sources: Wikipedia | Sizdah Be-dar, kish.ir 1, kish.ir 2, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, IRNA 3, IRNA 4ISNA 1, ISNA 2, ISNA 3, ISNA 4, ISNA 5ISCA News, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, MNA 3, MNA 4, MNA 5, Fars News Agency, Tehran Picture Agency (TPA) 1, TPA 2, TPA 3, TPA 4, TPA 5, TPA 6, Borna News 1, Borna News 2, Borna News 3, Borna News 4, Borna News 5, Borna News 6, Tasnim News Agency (TNA) 1, TNA 2, TNA 3, TNA 4JameJam Online, Young Journalists Club (YJC) 1, YJC 2, Azad News Agency (ANA) 1, ANA 2

Chaharshanbe Suri – Ancient Iranian Fire Festival (Photos)

Chaharshanbe Suri is an ancient ceremony dating back to at least 1700 BCE. Iran’s largest dictionary, Dehkhoda, describes it as: “A festival arranged on the last Tuesday evening of the old year, where you light fires and jump over them, to achieve happiness and good health in the New Year.”

The celebration usually starts in the evening and people leap over the flames, singing “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man”, literal translated as “my yellow is yours, your red is mine”, asking the fire to take their pallor, sickness, and problems and in turn give them redness, warmth, and energy.

Traditionally, it is believed that the living were visited by the spirits of their ancestors on the last day of the year. Many people specially children, wrap themselves in shrouds symbolically reenacting the visits. By the light of the bonfire, they run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons (“Gashog-Zani”) to beat out the last unlucky Wednesday of the year, while they knock on doors to ask for treats. Sometimes the treat is a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits (pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins) and is called “Ajeel-e Chahar Shanbeh Suri”. The practices are very similar to Halloween, which is a Celtic version of similar festivals celebrated throughout the area in ancient times.

Photos: Chaharshanbe Suri in Iran, 2016

Families customarily enjoy snacks during the evening and a supper at night after the end of the festivities. In Ker­man and Shiraz the main dish is usually polow with pasta soup (“ash reshte“); the longer the pasta strands, the better the chances for a long life for each member of the family.

The ancient Iranians celebrated the last 10 days of the year in their annual feast of all souls, Hamaspathmaedaya (Farvardigan). They believed Foruhars (faravahar), the guardian angels for humans and also the spirits of dead would come back for reunion. These spirits were entertained as honored guests in their old homes, and were bidden a formal ritual farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The ten-day festival also coincided with festivals celebrating the creation of fire and humans. Flames were burnt all night to ensure the returning spirits were protected from the forces of Ahriman. This was called Suri festival. Zoroastrians today still follow this tradition.

The celebration was not held on this night before Islam and might be a combination of different rituals to make them last. Wednesday is likely to have been prompted by an Arab superstition where it represents a bad omen day with unpleasant consequences. This is contrary to Zoroastrian cosmology where all days were sacred and named after a major deity. By celebrating in this manner Iranians were able to preserve the ancient tradition. The festival is celebrated on Tuesday night to make sure all bad spirits are chased away and Wednesday will pass uneventfully.

Today, there is no religious significance attached to it any more and is a purely secular festival for all Iranians (Persians, Azerbaijani people, Armenians, Kurdish people, Assyrians, Bahá’í, Jews, Christian and Zoroastrians). The night will end with more fire works and feasts where family and friends meet and enjoy music and dance.

Chaharshanbe Suri in Tehran, Iran – 2016

Fire Festival in Sweden
In Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden they celebrate Eldfesten, a Swedish version of the Persian Chaharshanbe Soori. This year, 2016, is the 25th anniversary of the festival in the city of Gothenburg, where it has become one of the most popular public cultural celebrations in the city. Thousands of people, including non-Iranians, attend each year to celebrate the arrival of spring with crackling fires, music, fireworks and fragrant Persian dishes.

Photos: Eldfesten 2016 in Sweden

Sources: Iran Chamber Society, Enciclopædia Iranica, Wikipedia | Chaharshanbe Suri, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, IRNA 3, IRNA 4, IRNA 5, ISNA 1, ISNA 2, Mehr News AgencyFacebook | Eldfesten 2016, Göteborgs-Posten, goteborg.com, Huffington Post Canada

Isfahan Music Museum (Photos)

The Music Museum in Isfahan is a private museum opened thanks to the efforts of two masters in traditional Iranian music. The museum is divided in different sectors: national and local instruments, photgraphs, a teaching music hall and a rehearsal hall.

Listen to traditional Iranian music here: The other Iran | Music

Sources: Mehr News Agency, isfahanmusicmuseum.com (in Persian)

Glassware and Ceramics Museum of Iran in Tehran (Photos)

The Glassware and Ceramics Museum of Iran is situated in a garden with a span of 7000 square meters. The building was constructed as a private residence about 90 years ago upon orders of Ahmad Qavam (Qavam-ol-Saltaneh). It later housed the Egyptian embassy and was converted into a museum in 1976 by three groups of Iranian, Austrian and French architects.

The museum’s main building, a two-storey octagonal construction with suspended pillars and a basement, occupies an area of 1040 square meters. Its architectural style is a combination of the traditional Iranian style and the European architecture of the 19th century.

The collection of glass and clay works that are on display at the museum is among the rare collections in Iran, mainly from Neishabur, Kashan, Rey and Gorgan. It comprises clay pots dating back from the 4th millennium BCE up to the present time as well as glass works from 1st millennium BCE up to the contemporary era. European glass works belonging to the 18th and 19th centuries are also parts of the collection.

Sources: Tehran Press Agency, Glassware and Ceramics Museum of Iran, Iran Chamber Society, Lonely Planet

Opera ‘Kalileh and Demneh’ performed by children in Shiraz, Iran (Photos)

The opera of “Kalileh and Demneh”, arranged and conducted by Mohammad-Ali Fallahi, was performed by children younger than 12 years old at the Hafez Hall in Shiraz.

Kalileh and Demneh is a collection of didactic animal fables, with the jackals Kalileh and Demneh as two of the principal characters. Originally from India (between 500BCE and 100BCE), the fables were translated into many languages, undergoing significant changes in both form and content. In Persian literature Kalileh and Demneh has been known in different versions since the 6th century CE. In Sanskrit literature the story cycle is known as Panchatantra, while it was often called Fables of Bidpai in early modern Europe.

Sources: Mehr News Agency, Enciclopædia Iranica | Kalila wa Demna, Honaronline (in Persian)

Youth Music Festival 2015 in Tehran, Iran – Part 2: Winners (Photos)

Close to 250 young musicians participated in this festival which was held in two main sections of classical and traditional Iranian music. The competition was held in three age groups ranging from 10-27 years old.

In the classical section, the highest number of instrumentalists played the piano, violin and guitar, while in the traditional section santur, tar and setar were mostly present. Traditional Persian music was held in eight sub-categories, including seven instrumental and a vocal section.

Related article: Youth Music Festival Practice & Performance (Photos) – Part 1 https://theotheriran.com/2015/09/22/youth-music-festival-2015-in-tehran-iran-part-1-practice-performance-photos/

Sources: tavoosonline.com, MEHR | Photos, nay.ir

‘The President’, a film by awarded Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 2014, Georgia, /France/UK/Germany, 105 minutes,
Cast: Misha Gomiashvili, Dachi Orvelashvili
Festivals: Venice Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, Warsaw International Film Festival

More info about director Mohsen Makhmalbaf: click here

Persian Film Festival Australia Iran Sidney Movie Trailer The PresidentPlot: In an imaginary village in the Caucasus, a President is on the run with his five-year-old grandson following a coup d’état. The two travel across the lands that the President once governed. Now, disguised as a street musician to avoid being recognized, the former dictator comes into contact with his people, and gets to know them from a different point of view.

The President and his family rule their land with an iron fist, enjoying lives of luxury and leisure at the expense of their population’s misery. When a coup d’état overthrows his brutal rule and the rest of his family flees the country by plane, The President is suddenly left to care for his young grandson and forced to escape. Now the country’s most wanted fugitive with a bounty on his head, The President begins a perilous journey with the boy, criss-crossing the country to reach the sea where a ship waits to bring them to safety. Posing as street musicians and traveling together with the people who suffered for years under the dictatorship, the fallen President and the innocent child will be exposed first hand to the hardships that inspired unanimous hatred for the regime.

Trailer:

Sources: http://www.iranianfilmfestival.org/all-date-list/the-president/ , Youtube

Youth Music Festival 2015 in Tehran, Iran – Part 1: Practice & Performance (Photos)

Close to 250 young musicians participated in this festival which was held in two main sections of classical and traditional Iranian music. The competition was held in three age groups ranging from 10-27 years old.

In the classical section, the highest number of instrumentalists played the piano, violin and guitar, while in the traditional section santur, tar and setar were mostly present. Traditional Persian music was held in eight sub-categories, including seven instrumental and a vocal section.

Sources: MEHR | Photos, nay.ir, honaronline.ir 1, honaronline.ir 2, Tavoos Online

Tehran calligraphy show promoting Iranian calico art

An exhibition of works by calligraphers Omid Ganjali and Mohsen Soleimani opened at Tehran’ Niavaran Cultural Center on Sunday to promote qalamkari, Iranian calico art that the artists believe is being forgotten.

The artworks were previously showcased at “From Earth to Heaven”, an exhibition that the Salam Art Creations Institute, a Tehran-based private organization developing Iranian arts, held at Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall in Istanbul in July.

Photos by Mona Hoobehfekr for ISNA

All 30 calligraphy works are huge in size with designs of qalamkari done on their margins. Qalamkari is passing into oblivion in the country, Salam Art Creations Institute Managing Director Rafi Razavi told the Persian service of ISNA. The exhibition was organized to turn the spotlight on Iranian art, he added. “We need to take serious action to support artisans and masters who are still active in this field of time-honored art,” he stated.

The exhibition will run until August 25.

Sources: Tehran Times | Art Desk News, ISNA | Photos

Iran’s Kerman Province: Fath-Abad Garden (Photos)

Fath-Abad Garden is located next to the village of Ekhteyarabad, 25km from the city of Kerman. It dates back to the Qajar era. The garden has been recently renovated after having its last restoration in 1972.

Shazdeh Garden, a historical  Persian Garden near Mahan, also in Kerman Province, has been modeled on Fathabad Garden.

Related articles: The other Iran | Shazdeh Garden

Sources: IRNA | Photos, Wikipedia | Fath-Abad Garden (in Persian), Tasnim | Photos , ISNA | Photos

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: First Iranian artist to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim, New York

Farmanfarmaian, now 92, is a renowned Iranian visual artist known for her geometric style and mirror sculptures. She became the first Iranian artist to have her work featured in a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim; a retrospective, spanning four decades of work: “Infinite Possibility: Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014”, organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

In 2011, Vogue — where she worked early on as a freelance illustrator — featured her when she was the subject of an art book. “Whatever time I have left, I want to make art,” she said in the Vogue interview. “And I hope it will be worthwhile to see it.”

Contemporary Iranian art has a decades-long history in the West — though artists are now exhibiting their work with increasing frequency in the United States and Europe.

From September 2013 to January 2014, the Asia Society in New York exhibited Iran Modern. The show featured a diverse body of work from numerous artists that spanned the three decades leading up to the revolution of 1979.

In January and February of this year, the Taymour Grahne Gallery presented Traveling Demons, a collection of colorful and haunting pieces by Malekeh Nayiny, who was born in Tehran and currently lives in Paris.

And while Farmanfarmaian’s work was at the Guggenheim, the works of famed sculptor Parviz Tanavoli was on display at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. Like Farmanfarmaian, Tanavoli is also the first Iranian artist to have a solo show at that space.

Shiva Balaghi co-curated the Tanavoli exhibition, and is a visiting scholar in Middle Eastern studies at Brown University. As one of the few academics in the country who specializes in Middle Eastern art history, Balaghi is quick to debunk notions of an Iranian art renaissance in the U.S., despite its recent popularity in the American art world.

“A reemergence is not really true,” she told BuzzFeed News. “The fact that there’s a growing interest in the West is key, not that this art hasn’t been made before.” Balaghi’s theory is that art institutions are beginning to look beyond Iran’s current political climate and explore the country through its art.

“It’s almost like museums are taking on this cultural diplomacy role,” she said. “There’s a cultural life in that country that continues and flourishes, one that doesn’t have to do with nuclear negotiations.”

Related articles to Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian:
Iranian Roots | Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian – Iranian Artist (Bio)
The Huffington Post | 90-Year-Old Iranian Artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian Gets Her First Comprehensive U.S. Exhibition
The Guardian | Infinite Possibility: Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Source: BuzzFeed News | This Iranian Artist Is Making History At The Guggenheim

Photos: The 28th International Book Fair kicked off in Tehran!

The event started on Wednesday May 6, in a 120,000 square meter venue at Tehran’s Grand Mosalla, and will continue until May 16, 2015.

Over 2800 publishers from Iran and 65 other countries have presented their latest publications at the fair. 300,000 Iranian books and 160,000 non-Iranian books were presented this year. The foreign publishers substantially offer their materials in English or Arabic however titles in French, German, Chinese, Korean or Japanese are also available.

Millions of visitors inspect the fair every year, including thousands of university students, scholars and families. It is currently the most significant cultural event in Iran as well as one of the most significant events of its kind in Asia and the Middle East. Heads of international book fairs from Oman, this year’s special guest, Paris, Bologna, Moscow, and other places are attending the 28th edition of TIBF.

Hundreds of cultural projects are carried out during the event as sidelines activities, including book review sessions, face-to-face meetings with Iranian authors, lecture sessions, and writing workshops.

Monday May 11, 2015 has been designated as Day of Africa  at the 28th TIBF. To mark the day, African exhibitors will hold an array of cultural programs. As part of the programs, a panel discussion will be staged in the TIBF section of Men of Letters’ House on existing cultural exchanges between Iran and African nations, sponsored by friendship associations established among Iran and a number of African nations, namely Nigeria, Tunisia, Uganda, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Comoros.

The works of illustrators participating at the 52nd Bologna International Children Book Fair will be displayed in an exhibition titled “Tehran-Bologna 2015”. According to IBNA (Iran’s Book News Agency), the illustrations which participated in the latest Bologna Children Book Fair as well as the illustrations by Roger Mellow, the winner of 2014 Hans Christian Anderson Award, will be showcased. Moreover, the works of the Iranian illustrators whose works have participated in the editions of Bologna Fair during the last 10 years are going to be put on public display in this event.

Tehran Metro and the public bus service boosted their cooperation during the 28th TIBF to facilitate the transportation of the visitors. Extra trains are being used and the arrival times of the trains is also reduced to 5 minutes at the weekends. The subway is deploying its maximum manpower particularly at the Beheshti and Mosalla stations, said Mohsen Nayebi, Head of Tehran urban and suburban Railway Operation Company. Public buses, dedicated particularly to transportation of the Book Fair visitors, are plying between the venue and the city’s main squares.

Sources: TIBF on Instagram, TIBF Official Site | News 1, TIBF Official Site | News 2, Tasnim News Agency| Tehran International Book Fair, Press TV | Tehran International Book Fair, irib.ir | Photogalleries, Tehran Municipality | News 1, Tehran Municipality | News 2,Expo Road | Tehran International Book Fair, Mehr News Agency | Photos by H. Razaqnejad , Tasnim News | Photos by M. Hassanzadeh, IRNA | Photos 1IRNA | Photos 2, ISNA | Photos by A. Khosroshahi

The Tehran Graphic Design Week 2015 started!

The Tehran Graphic Design Week 2015 started on April 26 at the Iranian Artists Forum (IAF) as tens of graphic art enthusiasts demonstrated support for the event by gathering outside the venue under the slogan “Graphic Art Needs Promotion”.

“Graphic designs are with us wherever we go. From the moment we wake up, graphic designs are before us telling us what to wear and what is attractive,” said graphics expert Akbar Alemi, a member on the selection committee and the ceremony host.

The head of Iran Graphic Designers Society (IGDS) Ali Rashidi said the extensive world of graphics can offer more than posters and logos and called for Iran to advance in all areas of this pragmatic form of art, Mehr News Agency reported. He took note of “motion graphics and economics of art” as two key areas of IGDS focus this year, and said “this society aims to promote non-still (non-print) graphics.”

French graphic designer Ruedi Baur, who was a guest invitee, said “motion graphics cannot be defined as they are out of our control”. Australian designer Ken Cato opposing the view, stated that motion graphics “even defines throwing up your business card up in the air,” and to prove a point, he did just that.

An introduction to motion graphics and its applications on DVDs was unveiled by Mahdi Mahdian, secretary of the event.

In addition to the two international guest invitees, a number of renowned figures attended the function, including graphic designers Ghobad Shiva, Majid Balouch, Amrollah Farhadi, Mostafa Asadollahi, typography designer Masoud Sepehr, and calligrapher Bahram Kalhornia.

The Tehran Graphic Design Week usually kicks off every year around the World Graphic Design Day which is on April 27. The Tehran Beautification Organization, Contemporary Art (Honar Moaser) Publications and Sepia Co. cooperated with IGDS running the event.

According to Mehdi Mahdian the works exhibited were selected by a committee composed of Akbar Alami, Bahram Azimi, Reza Alavi, Mehrdad Sheikhan and Amir Mohammad Dehetani.

Tehran Graphic Design Week 2015 features various programs such as commemoration of a veteran artist and exhibition of works by two international graphic designers. The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art displays works by graphic designers Rudie Baur from France and Ken Cato from Australia in separate exhibitions.

Tehran Graphic Design Week 2015 runs for one week in the Iranian Artists’ Forum located on Musavi St., off Taleqani Ave, Tehran.

Program (in Persian): Iranian Graphic Design Society | Graphic Design Week 20015 – Program

Sources: Culture and Heritage National Agency, Tavoos Online, Tehran Times, ISNA | Photos

Iran’s Tehran Province: Persian Garden Park in Tehran – Part 2

Here the second batch of pictures of the Persian Garden Park in Tehran. Enjoy!

The Persian Garden Park is a 3.4ha (8.4 acres) areal in Tehran that was designed based on the pattern of a Persian Garden.The reconstruction project planned passages for the disabled and dedicated 2.5ha (6 acres) to green spaces, preserving the old trees and planting new species. The park has six fountains, a restaurant and tea house, a public library, a children’s playground and other facilities.

More information and photos:
The other Iran | Iran’s Tehran Province: Persian Garden Park in Tehran – Part 1

Sources: TEHRAN Picture Agency | Growing tulips in the Persian Garden, TEHRAN Picture Agency | Persian Garden on a rainy day, Tasnim News | Photos

Iran’s Tehran Province: Persian Garden Park in Tehran – Part 1

The tradition and style in the design of Persian Gardens (Persian: باغ ایرانی transliterated as Bagh-e Irani) has influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond.

The Persian Garden Park in Tehran, located on north Sheikh Bahai Street – District 3, is a 3.4ha (8.4 acres) areal that was designed based on the pattern of a Persian Garden. The two main entrances are located on the eastern and the western side of the park but it has also two other gates on the northern and southern side.

The reconstruction project planned passages for the disabled and dedicated 2.5ha (6 acres) to green spaces, preserving the old trees and planting new species such as bay leaf, berberis, firethorn (pyracantha), eglantine (sweet briar), milkweeds (asclepias), shrubs and other seasonal and perennial plants.

The park has six fountains, a restaurant and tea house, a public library, a children’s playground, a sports ground, bathroom and dressing room facilities as well as a prayer room.

Sources: IRNA | Photos, Tehran Municipality, Tishineh | Bagh-e Irani Park, Wikipedia | Persian Gardens

Iran’s Razavi Khorasan Province: Mashhad’s Spring Flower Festival (Photos)

Each year, the city of Mashhad celebrates spring with a Flower Festival. More than eight million bulbous flowers (e.g. tulips) are being planted in parks and streets and can be enjoyed until mid-May.

Razavi Khorasan, Iran - Mashhad - MapMashhad (Persian: مشهد‎) with 3.150.000 inhabitants is the second most populous city in Iran and capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the northeast of the country, close to the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv in the East.

Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Reza shrine. Mashhad is also known as the city of Ferdowsi, the Iranian poet of Shahnameh, which is considered to be the national epic of Iran.

The city is located in the valley of the Kashaf River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and Hezar-masjed. The city benefits from the proximity of the mountains, having cool winters, pleasant springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. It is only about 250km (160 mi) away from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Long a center of secular and religious learning, Mashhad has been a center for the arts and for the sciences. The Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, the Madrassa of Ayatollah Al-Khoei, originally built in the seventeenth century, and the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, founded in 1984, are located here.

Mashhad is also home to one of the oldest libraries of the Middle-East with a history of over six centuries. The Astan-e Quds Razavi Museum, which is part of the Astan-e Quds Razavi Complex, is home to over 70,000 rare manuscripts from various historical eras. There are some six million historical documents in the foundation’s central library.

Apart from Imam Reza shrine, there are a number of large parks, the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Nishapur, the tomb of Nadir Shah, Kooh Sangi park and the Koohestan Park-e-Shadi Complex.

Some points of interest lie outside the city: the tomb of Khajeh Morad, the tomb of Khajeh Rabi’ where there are some inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt. In Tus, 24km away from Mashhad, is the tomb of Ferdowsi. The summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlamad, Zoshk and Shandiz are also nearby.

The Shah Public Bath, built during the Safavid era in 1648, is an outstanding example of the architecture of that period. It was recently restored, and is to be turned into a museum.

Other articles about Razavi Khorasan Province: The other Iran | Razavi Khorasan Province

Sources: IRNA | Photos, Wikipedia | Mashhad, Tasnim News Agency | Photos

Photo gallery: Sizdah Be-dar – The Iranian national picnic day

Sizdah Be-Dar (frequently stylized as “13 Bedar”) means in Persian literally 13th in outdoors. It is a festival in the Iranian culture and part of the Nowruz new year celebration rituals, held on the 13th of Farvardin (the 1st month of the Iranian calendar), during which people spend time picnicking outdoors.

Sizdah Bedar is the day Tir (The Blessed day) of the month Farvardin from ancient Persian (Iranian) calendar, which was the first day of agricultural activity in ancient Persia. Be-dar in Persian means going out. Nowadays, Iranians go out to have fun with their families all the day long.

Sizdeh Bedar is celebrated in Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, and elsewhere. An increasing number of participants are taking part in the holiday. In cities like Los Angeles with large populations of Iranians, a growing number of parks are set up by the city to accommodate the large number of people.

Sources:
Wikipedia | Sizdah Be-dar, Mehr News Agency | Photos 1, Mehr News Agency | Photos 2, IRNA | Photos 1, IRNA | Photos 2, IRNA | Photos 3, IRNA | Photos 4

New Year’s dreams – What do Iranians wish for this year that just started?

The start of a new year is associated with dreams and new things we would like to achieve.

Iranians wrote down what they wish of this New Year and were photographed holding their written wishes and an element of the haft sin. Enjoy the photo gallery!

Click on a photo and see the translation of all the wishes: