Tag Archives: Customs & Traditions

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

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:

Learn more about the Iranian New Year (Nowruz), its traditions and food:
The other Iran | Nowruz

Sources: Mehr News Agency

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)

Chaharshanbe Suri – An Ancient Iranian Fire Festival to celebrate the last wednesday eve of the year

Chaharshanbe Suri is a fire jumping festival celebrated by Iranic people (Persians, Azerbaijani people, Armenians, Kurdish people, Assyrians, Bahá’í, Jews, Christian and Zoroastrians). The event takes place on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz.

“Red Wednesday”, the words Chahar Shanbeh mean Wednesday and Suri means red, is an ancient Iranian festival dating back to at least 1700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era. Also called the Festival of Fire, it is a prelude to Nowruz, which marks the arrival of spring. Bonfires are lit to “keep the sun alive” until early morning.

The celebration usually starts in the evening, with people making bonfires in the streets and jumping over them singing “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man”. The literal translation is, my yellow is yours, your red is mine. This is a purification rite; you want the fire to take your pallor, sickness, and problems and in turn give you redness, warmth, and energy. There is Zoroastrian religious significance attached to Chaharshanbeh Suri and it serves as a cultural festival for Iranian and Iranic peoples.

Another tradition of this day is to make special Chaharshanbe Suri Ajil, or mixed nuts and berries. People wear disguises and go door to door knocking on doors as similar to trick-or-treat. Receiving of the Ajeel is customary, as is receiving of a bucket of water.

Sources: Wikipedia | Chaharshanbe Suri, ISNA 1, ISNA 2, ISNA 3, IRNA 1, IRNA 2