Tag Archives: Culture

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

Joint celebration of Chinese and Iranian New Year in Tehran (Photos)

The Chinese Embassy in Tehran and the Iran-China Friendship Association have held a combined celebration marking Chinese New Year as well as Nowruz, Iranian upcoming New Year at Niavaran Cultural Complex.

Chinese cooks and artists offered traditional dishes and handicrafts to the visitors and Iranian artists performed traditional Persian music to celebrate the event. Iran’s Red Dragon International Wushu Association performed lion dance, a tradition in Chinese culture in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume. Another part of the celebration was bian lian (literally: face changing), an ancient Chinese dramatic art where performers wear colored masks which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.

Chinese Lunar New Year is also known as Spring Festival, as the season signifies a new start from the depths of winter, and the corresponding holiday carries the same meaning in Iranian culture. Nowruz, as the Iranian New Year is called in Persian, means “new day” and falls on the first day of the spring equinox every year. It is an ancient ritual dating back 2500 years and is rooted in Zoroastrianism.

There are remarkable similarities in the ways Chinese and Iranians celebrate their spring festivals, according to Alireza Salarian, consul general for Iran in Guangzhou: It is a time for family reunions, people who live away from their hometowns return for a family dinner. Fish is a common holiday dish, as is a version of the saying, “May you get more than you wish for every year.” Like the Chinese, Iranians enjoy a week long holiday, and children wear new clothes as they accompany their parents on visits to relatives.

While Chinese attach scrolls of blessing couplets on gateposts and offer guests nuts and candy in exquisite boxes, Iranians traditionally present an elaborate table setting with seven items starting with the letter “s” in the Persian alphabet.

Sources: China Daily, Mehr News Agency, Tehran Times, Wikipedia | Bian lian

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)

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

Hamid Saeid: Iranian musician

Since his Internet hit, “Bad Shans” (hard luck), Hamid Saeid has become one of the best-known Iranian musicians with African roots. He’s traveled by motorbike across the province of Hormozgan, which is situated in the South of the country on the Persian Gulf, in order to realize his dream; to organize a concert with the best black musicians in the country. The documentary Dingomaro – Iran’s Black South by Kamran Heidari is a testimony of this trip.

Listen to Hamid Saeid performing Bad Shans (Hard luck):

Source: Autentic | Dingomaro – Iran’s Black South

The Fish & I: Awarded Iranian short film by Babak Habibifar

The Fish and I is an Iranian short film directed, written and acted by Babak Habibifar that recounts the story of a blind man trying to save his fish. The film has won several international honors.

Awards
– Special Audience Award; 12th CLAM International Film Festival of Solidarity in Navarcles, Spain (May, 2015)
– Best Short Film; 6th Skepto International Film Festival in Cagliari, Italy (April, 2015)
– Honorable Mention; 11th Rengo International Film Festival, Rengo, Chile (February 2015)
– Special Jury Mention, Young Jury Prize for the Best International Short Film and Mediterranean Diet Award (a cash prize dedicated by a Spanish Institution); 16th International Short Film Festival “City of Soria” in Soria, Spain (November, 2014)
– Jury Grand Prize and Audience Award; Short Short Story Film Festival in Providence, USA (November, 2014)
– Most Original Film; Uhvati Film Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia (September, 2014)

About Babak Habibifar
Babak Habibifar is an Iranian writer and director. His short fictions include The Fish and I (2014), After seventeen hours (2013), Somewhere up there (2013) and After fifteen years (also known as Crossword puzzle, 2012). This last film was highlighted by the Jury at the 2013 Strawberry Shorts Film Festival in Cambridge, England. Besides directing, Habibifar has worked as an actor and is also a gifted photographer, having won several photography awards in national competitions.

Sources: Mehr News Agency | News, Art Film Festival | Portfolio | Babak HabibifarGreen Film Festival in Seoul | The Fish and I, NacióDigital.cat | CLAM Festival, Skepto International Film Festival 2015 | Awards and Special Mentions, Rengo International Film Festival, Heraldo.es | Noticias, Press TV | News, Merging Arts Productions | SSS Film Festival, Uhvati Film Festival | Awards, The House of Films | News