Tag Archives: People

Iran’s Alborz Province: Dizin Ski Resort hosts snowboard competition (Photos)

Iran hosted earlier this month a snowboard and freestyle ski competition event in Dizin Ski Resort, north of the capital Tehran. Eight female and twenty eight male athletes competed alongside, defying the unexpected, unfavorable weather conditions at the beginning of the tournament.

Dizin, established in 1969, is one of the larger Iranian ski resorts in the Alborz mountain range, 120km from Tehran by car. The ski season in Dizin lasts from December to May, because of the resort’s high altitude.

Related article: The other Iran | Dizin Ski Resort

Sources: IRNA, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, Tasnim News Agency, Fars News Agency, Young Journalists ClubISNA, PressTV

Photos: Sand sculptures in Kish Island, Iran

Kish is a duty-free, resort island in the Persian Gulf 19 kilometers from mainland Iran, in Hormozgan Province. It has a population of 26,000 residents and about 1 million visitors annually. The island is located on a narrow strip of tropical vegetation in the Northern Hemisphere and has a semi-equatorial climate. Along its coast are coral reefs and many other small islands.

Sources: kish.ir, Tasnim News Agency, Mehr News Agency, Wikipedia | Kish Island

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

Photos: Earth Hour 2016 across Iran

Tehran and other major cities like Rasht, Shiraz, Kerman, Ahvaz, Urmia, and Isfahan celebrated Earth Hour 2016. Iran has taken part of this universal movement, switching of the lights of important elements all over the country since 2011.

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event is held annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. towards the end of March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet. It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide.

Related article: Photos: Earth Hour 2014 in Iran

Sources: earthhour.orgWikipedia | Earth Hour, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, IRNA 3earth-hour.ir, pgnews.ir, kojaro.com

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

“Fridges of kindness” across Iran

Thousands of volunteers all over Iran are helping to eliminate homelessness through a group called Payane Kartonkhabi, ending homelessness, or more literally, ‘ending sleeping in cardboard boxes’. The group not only distributes food among the homeless but also installs fridges on the street so that the neighbours can leave homemade meals for those in need. Payane Kartonkhabi is active in more than 20 cities including Tabriz, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Arak, and Shiraz, thanks to Instagram, Facebook and mostly Telegram.

In Tehran, some shops have reportedly put out refrigerators and invited people to leave food they do not want for homeless people to take. At least one bakery has put out a box of bread for those who cannot afford it. “Bread is free for those who can’t pay,” reads a sign on the box.

A combination of the “wall of kindness” with this initiative has lead to build cottage-like frames with not only a fridge in it but also a closet where people can put their spare clothes. Some even have bookshelves for books donations and others have cabinets where kids can leave their extra toys for others.

About Payane Kartonkhabi
Ali Heidari, an advertising manager in Tehran, told The Guardian about the tragedy he saw when he delivered meals to the homeless living in Harandi, a neighborhood in south Tehran, with his wife and son in May 2015. After going to friends and relatives, he used social media to ask for help.

On a Wednesday in July, the first group of volunteers went to south Tehran and distributed food. This is now regular. Every Wednesday, at 10pm, volunteers take thousands of food portions to Shoush neighbourhood. “Our record is 5,000 meals in one night,” says Heidari.
The installing of fridges began in October. The idea is simple: those who can afford it will put food in the fridge, and anyone who’s hungry, be it a homeless person or a neighbour, can open the fridge and take something to eat. In addition to that, the group also helps fight addiction among the homeless, taking an approach different from the official organisations. Payane Kartonkhoabi’s goal is to put an end to homelessness in Iran. It holds training workshops for those who are drug-free and tries to find jobs for them.

Sources: The Guardian 1The Guardian 2Borgen Project, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, Instagram @payane_kartonkhabi, Tasnim News

Photo series: Winter in Iran – Enjoying the snow in Sepidan, Fars Province

Sepidan, which means “The Whiteland” in Persian, is a County located in the Zagros Mountains, in Iran’s Fars Province.

The beauty of the region – Sheshpir Lake, vineyards, forests and rivers – coupled with the mild climate in the summer makes Sepidan a popular destination for ecotourism. Roanj and Barmefirooz, 3.720 and 3.706 meters above sea level, are the highest peaks of the county and are covered with snow throughout the year. Margoon Waterfall, Beheshte Gomshodeh (Lost Paradise) and Pooladkaf, one of the best ski resorts in south Iran are at the foothills of these peaks.

Though Sepidan is visited mostly for its nature and landscapes, it can be a destination for historical and archeological tourists. Anshan, which is considered the Cradle of the Achaemenid Empire and Golbahar Tower, built by the Safavids are located also in this county.

Sources: Borna News, ISNA 1, Wikipedia | Sepidan (in French), Wiki Voyage | Sepidan