Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Photo gallery: Nowruz – Iranian New Year Food and Sweets

The main dish for Nowruz is Sabzi Polow Mahi (Sabzi Polow = Rice with fresh herbs, Mahi = Fish). In addition you have Kookoo/Kuku Sabzi (an Iranian Frittata made of fresh herbs and optionally barberries and walnuts). Besides this you have all kinds of sweets, some of them are depicted below:

Sources:

Tumeric and Saffron 1, 2, 3My persian kitchen 1, 2, Persian mama, Iran review, Bottom of the pot

Nowruz – The Iranian New Year

Nowruz (meaning Now=new and ruz=day “The New Day”) is the name of the Iranian New Year. It marks the first day of spring (March equinox) and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. It is officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Nowruz is celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians. It is also celebrated by the cultural region that came under Iranian influence.

Countries that have Nowruz as a public holiday include the following: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, India, Iran, Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan), Kazakhstan, Mongolia (regional state holiday only), Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Nowruz traditions
Spring cleaning
, or Khouneh Tekouni (literally means ‘shaking the house’) or ‘complete cleaning of the house’ is commonly performed before Nowruz. Persians and Kurdish and Lure Kurdish, Azerbaijanis, and start preparing for the Nowruz with a major spring-cleaning of their houses, the purchase of new clothes to wear for the new year and the purchase of flowers (in particular the hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous).

In association with the “rebirth of nature”, extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. This is also extended to personal attire, and it is customary to buy at least one set of new clothes. On the New Year’s Day, families dress in their new clothes and start the twelve-day celebrations by visiting the elders of their family, then the rest of their family and finally their friends. On the thirteenth day families leave their homes and picnic outdoors, as part of the Sizdah Be-dar ceremony.

During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Sīn on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. The youth will visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later. When in previous year, a family member is deceased, the tradition is to visit that family first (among the elders).

The visits naturally have to be relatively short, otherwise one will not be able to visit everybody on their list. A typical visit is around 30 minutes, where you often run into other visiting relatives and friends who happen to be paying a visit to the same house at that time. Because of the house visits, you make sure you have a sufficient supply of pastry, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and special nuts on hand, as you typically serve your visitors with these items with tea or sherbet.

Click a photo and browse to the gallery to see the different elements of the Haft-Sin and their symbolic meaning:

Haft Sīn (haft=seven and sīn=s “The seven ‘S’s”) is the traditional table setting of Nowruz. The Haft Sīn items are:
Sabzeh: wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish, symbolizing green environment, happiness and rebirth.
Samanu: a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat, symbolizing affluence.
Senjed: the dried fruit of the oleaster tree, symbolizing firmness and tolerance.
Sīr: garlic, symbolizing health.
Sīb: apples, symbolizing beauty and love.
Somaq: sumac berries, symbolizing patience.
Serkeh: vinegar, symbolizing development and evolution.

Other symbolic items can be:
Sekkeh: coins, representing wealth
– Lit candles, representing enlightenment and sunrise.
– A mirror, symbolizing cleanliness and honesty
– Decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family, symbolizing fertility
– A bowl of water with goldfish, representing life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving. As an essential object of the Nowruz table, the goldfish is also “very ancient and meaningful” and with Zoroastrian connection.
– Rosewater, symbolizing purity and cleanness.
– The national colours, for a patriotic touch
– A holy book (e.g., the Avesta, Qur’an or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnameh or the Divan of Hafiz)

Sources: Wikipedia | Nowruz, Tumeric & Saffron (1), Tumeric & Saffron (2)

“A Few Cubic Meters of Love” an award winning movie produced by two Afghan refugees that fled to Iran 30 years ago

“A Few Cubic Meters of Love” is a drama on migration and love directed and produced by Afghan brothers Jamshid Mahmudi and Navid Mahmudi who have lived in Iran for the past 30 years. The story of the film is set somewhere in the outskirts of Tehran, where a small factory illegally employs Afghan asylum seekers, who live with their families in old containers or modest shacks in nearby shanty towns. Saber, a young Iranian worker, secretly meets Marona, daughter of Abdolsalam, an Afghan worker. A love story unfolds. “A Few Cubic Meters of Love” is Jamshid Mahmudi’s debut film, which premiered at the 32nd Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran in February 2014. The film won him the Simorgh for best director in the New View section of the festival. “I would have felt bad had we not won any award at this event,” Jamshid Mahmudi said during the review session. “Because we did our best to make the film be warmly received,” he added.

The film is currently on screen at Iranian movies theaters. “The reason behind why Iranian people like this film, is that it is a real-life drama,” Jamshid Mahmudi stated. The film was selected to represent Afghanistan at the 87th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category, but was not nominated. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqz41QkdG4c UNHCR about refugees in Iran: Iran is host to one of the world’s largest and most protracted refugee populations. […] The global economic downturn, removal of subsidies, and intensified international sanctions have caused hyperinflation, affected the delivery of basic services, and resulted in a dramatic rise in living costs in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some 24 per cent of registered refugees are considered vulnerable, a rate that is expected to increase due to the economic situation. […] Sanctions also continue to negatively impact UNHCR’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance in an effective and timely manner. High inflation rates have substantial consequences for both the operation and partners. Comparison: Refugee numbers – GDP (nominal) per capita with richer and bigger regional neighbor country

Country GDP (nominal) per capita in US dollars Number of hosted refugees
Iran   6,363$ 868,242
Saudi Arabia 25,962$ 550

Must read regarding Afghan refugees in Iran: https://theotheriran.com/tag/afghanistan/ Sources: Payvand News of Iran United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees The Guardian

Art for Humanity WFP Exhibition in Iran

Art for Humanity

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) exhibition features 130 works by 100 prominent Iranian artists in painting and other fields of visual arts.

“This move can serve as a model for the artists in the other countries,” said UN representative, Garry Lewis, during the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

http://iranfrontpage.com/news/cultures/arts/2014/10/art-humanity-wfp-exhibition-opens-tehran/

Speaking at the ceremony, director of the center Abbas Sajjadi hoped to celebrate the end of hunger one day. “In our culture, helping others is a precious value that we have inherited.”

“The project began with 33 artists last year, but we are proud to have 100 artists this year,” she said, adding that the artworks have been priced by the artists themselves.

Gary Lewis also said that many steps need to be taken to eradicate hunger in the world. Sufficient food is being produced in the world, however there is still hunger not only in the poor countries but in the rich and developed ones, he said.

He added all the money raised in this exhibit will provide food for different individuals including Afghan nationals who are being supported by the country of Iran.

He thanked all the Iranian artists who have displayed their heart and compassion in their works.

Hossein Mahjubi, Jalal Shabahangi, Reza Bangiz, Mostafa Asadollahi, Mohammad Farnud and Sorush Sehhat attended the opening ceremony.

Nahid Aryan, Shima Esfandiari, Simin Ekrami, Minu Emami, Bahram Dabiri, Hamed Rashtian, Mohamamd Salahshur, Asal Fallah and Ario Farzi are among the participating artists in the exhibit.

Source: http://www.payvand.com/news/14/oct/1106.html

UNHCR: Afghan girl who came as refugee to Iran enjoyed the Iranian education system and is now obsterics surgeon

Afghan refugee Nasibah is now an obstetrics surgeon in Iran, an achievement she and her family never felt possible.


Afghan refugee Nasibah Heydari sits in her office. With hard work and determination, she has achieved a dream by qualifying to become an obstetrics surgeon in Iran.

Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Nasibah’s farmer father, her mother and older sister fled to Iran from a small village in Kandahar province. After several days walking across mountains, rivers and deserts, they sought refuge in north-east Iran. Empty-handed, they settled in the city of Mashhad, where Nasibah was later born.

“The chance to access education from primary school to university is the greatest service that Iran has extended me and many other refugees in this country,” said Nasibah. Her story is just one example of how Iran, with the support of UNHCR, tries to provide support to refugees through education, health, vocational skills and opportunities so they can eventually help rebuild their own country.

There are more than 840,000 Afghan refugees living in Iran. The Iranian government assists refugees with medical services, education, literacy classes and also employment.

Nasibah hopes peace and stability will prevail in Afghanistan so she can return. “When I go back I will take many good memories from Iran and I will be grateful to have had the opportunity to have lived and studied in peace and security for such a long time. I hope in the future, I will be able to help women back home with the knowledge I have acquired in Iran,” she said.

http://www.payvand.com/news/14/jun/1190.html

 

UNHCR Praises Iran for Supporting Foreign Refugees

Head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)‘s Office in Tehran Sivanka Dhanapala praised Iran’s performance in hosting and aiding foreign refugees, specially the Afghans. Dhanapala announced on Thursday that Iran has been successful in hosting the highest number of refugees in the world, and praised the country’s contribution to the promotion of refugees’ welfare and upgrading their educational level.

Afghan refugee boys in Iran (source: UNHCR)

Afghan refugee boys in Iran (source: UNHCR)

The literacy rate of the Afghan refugees that stood at six percent upon arrival in Iran, dramatically rose to 60 percent in 2013, he said, adding that this is an indication of Iran’s success in that regard.

“No host country can gain such an achievement,” Dhanapala said.

Praising Iran’s hospitality, he said, along with Lebanon and Pakistan, Iran has been the major refugee hosting country around the world.

Iran has been a generous host for more than 2 million Afghan refugees for two decades, with little help from the international community.

http://www.payvand.com/news/14/jun/1197.html

Iranian charity provides medical care to refugee children

[…] Fortunately, UNHCR and MAHAK have worked for more than 10 years in a fruitful collaboration to provide assistance to cancer-stricken refugee children. MAHAK is a non-profit, non-political, and non-governmental charity focused on treating children with cancer. It uses the most up-to-date diagnostic, treatment and prevention methods, with both outpatient and in-patient services. It provides chemotherapy, medication, lab tests, radiation therapy, CT scan, transportation and family counseling – all without regard to religion, race or nationality of patients. MAHAK is supported by fundraising and humanitarian assistance in the form of money, goods, services and technical expertise. Under the joint UNHCR-MAHAK project for 2013, a total of 76 Afghan and Iraqi refugee children under the age of 15 who suffer from cancer will be provided with medical treatment. Under this project, the accompanying parent is also provided with counseling, accommodation and food when needed because they reside outside Tehran and face difficult economic conditions. Iran has generously hosted the second largest refugee population in the world for over three decades — currently more than 880,000 refugees, some 40,000 from Iraq and the rest from Afghanistan. The government of Iran has always provided its refugees with access to the main areas of education, livelihood and health, some of which can be life-saving. MAHAK takes every opportunity to cheer up the children. Javad Nekoonam, a famous Iranian football player, recently joined them for a short game. The staff of MAHAK convey their own hope, enthusiasm and energy to the children. Some are volunteers, families of patients who have themselves survived cancer, and strong believers in what can be achieved. Many refugee families had stories like that of Ali, all grateful for the economic and psychological help the UNHCR-MAHAK agreement has brought to their lives. There were children from 2- to 17-years-old struggling with leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, cancerous tumors and undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. About Mahak: About two decades ago a mother who had experienced having a child with cancer and had witnessed first hand the difficulties faced by her child, pledged to set up a center that would act as a refuge for children and their families in a similar situation. With the assistance of the same friends and relatives who had helped her through her own ordeal, a board of trustees was selected and MAHAK Society to Support Children suffering from Cancer was set up as a non profit, non-governmental organization and was registered under number 6567 in 1991. MAHAK has been active from that day on in helping children with cancer and their families. Sources: http://www.unhcr.org/520b65139.html http://www.payvand.com/news/13/aug/1133.html