Yalda night

Don’t miss out Yalda night! It`s basically the longest night of the year (the last night of Autumn) and Iranian people celebrate it very special. So accept any invitation you get at this night from any local person! And how to get an invitation?! You don’t have to arrange anything in advance, Just be open to Iranian hospitality!

 

Yalda night (Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh) is an Iranian festival celebrated on the “longest and darkest night of the year,” Yalda is a winter solstice celebration, that is, in the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice.

The longest and darkest night of the year is a time when friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life. The poems of Divan-e Hafez, which can be found in the bookcases of most Iranian families, are read or recited on various occasions such as this festival and Nowruz.

 

Customs and traditions

In Zoroastrian tradition the longest and darkest night of the year was a particularly inauspicious day, and the practices of what is now known as “Shab-e Chelleh/Yalda” were originally customs intended to protect people from evil during that long night at which time the evil forces of Ahriman were imagined to be at their peak. People were advised to stay awake most of the night, lest misfortune should befall them, and people would then gather in the safety of groups of friends and relatives, share the last remaining fruits from the summer, and find ways to pass the long night together in good company.  Although the religious significance of the long dark night have been lost, the old traditions of staying up late in the company of friends and family have been retained in Iranian culture to the present day.

Food plays a central role in the present-day form of the celebrations. In most parts of Iran the extended family come together and enjoy a fine dinner. A wide variety of fruits and sweetmeats specifically prepared or kept for this night are served. Foods common to the celebration include watermelon, pomegranate, nuts, and dried fruit. These items and more are commonly placed on a korsi, which people sit around. In some areas it is custom that forty varieties of edibles should be served during the ceremony of the night of Chelleh.

Light-hearted superstitions run high on the night of Chelleh. These superstitions, however, are primarily associated with consumption. For instance, it is believed that consuming watermelons on the night of Chelleh will ensure the health and well-being of the individual during the months of summer by protecting him from falling victim to excessive heat or disease produced by hot humors. In Khorasan, there is a belief that whoever eats carrots, pears, pomegranates, and green olives will be protected against the harmful bite of insects, especially scorpions. Eating garlic on this night protects one against pains in the joints.

After dinner the older individuals entertain the others by telling them tales and anecdotes. Another favorite and prevalent pastime of the night of Chelleh is fāl-e Hafez, which is divination using the Dīvān of Hafez. It is believed that one should not divine by the Dīvān of Hafez more than three times, however, or the poet may get angry.

Activities common to the festival include staying up past midnight, conversation, drinking, reading poems out loud, telling stories and jokes, and for some dancing. Prior to invention and prevalence of electricity, decorating and lighting the house and yard with candles was also part of the tradition, but few have continued this tradition. Another tradition is giving dried fruits and nuts to family and friends, wrapped in tulle and tied with ribbon (similar to wedding and shower “party favors”). Prior to ban of alcohol, drinking wine was also part of the celebration. Despite the Islamic alcohol ban in Iran, many continue to include home-made alcoholic drinks in their celebrations.

 

Traveling Iran during Muharram

Muharram, the first month of the lunar year, has great value among Muslims. In commemoration of the Prophet Mohammad grandson’s martyrdom, Hussein ibn Ali, all Shia Muslims and believers take part in mourning ceremonies.
Prophet Muhammad’s family took part in an injustice battel against Yazid, the caliph of the Umayyad caliphate, about 1400 years ago. In the battle which held in Karbala plain, men were head cut, women and children were captives and hostages took to Dameshgh in Syria with humility.

For their bravery and oppressed manners, Shia Muslims in Iran and all over the world mourn from 1st of Muharram and it’s climaxing in the 10th of Muharram, the martyrdom day. People engage in mourning rituals by gathering at mosques, crying over Hussein ibn Ali’s martyrdom and do chest-beating and zanjeer zani.
Each city in Iran has its mourning rituals due to their cultures and traditions.

  • Yazd: Yazd is known for their special ritual of “Nakhl gardani”. Nakhl in Persian means palm but it has got nothing on a palm tree. It is actually a great wooden coffin decorated with mirrors, lights, and swords and rotating by the group of mourners as the symbol of Hussein ibn Ali’s coffin.
  • Mashhad: A large group of mourners gathers in Imam Reza’s holy shrine. At the eve of the 10th of Muharram, they hold candles, sing religious songs and cry.
  • Zanjan: Zanjan is known as the capital of Muharram mournings. At the beginning of Muharram, all people wear black clothes. Great punctual carnivals at the great mosque of the city are extraordinary.
  • Bushehr: They play especial traditional drums called Dammam. This ritual is held in the south part of Iran include Bushehr and Ahvaz.
  • Lorestan: In some west part of the country they hold an interesting and weird tradition as well. They make a large container of soil and rosewater and covered themselves in the mud. Then, they go on mourning carnivals.

Distributing Nazri, an offering food, among mourners and mostly poor people is common in every part of Iran.
Moreover, you could watch Tazie, a theatrical re-enactment of the Battle of Karbala. Its antiquity goes back to the Qajar era and is quite popular among Iranians.

On the 9th and 10th of Muharram which is called Tasua and Ashura, almost every place like museums are closed but restaurants and groceries are mostly open.
If you are hesitating whether to travel Iran during Muharram or not, don’t lose the chance of this annual must-visit ceremony.

Ethnic Groups in Iran

Ethnic groups in Iran[1]

Ethnic groups Percent
Persians (incl. Gilaks and Mazandaranis) 61%
Azerbaijanis 16%
Kurds 10%
Lurs (incl. Bakhtiari people) 6%
Turkmens (and other tribal Turks in Iran) 2%
Arabs 2%
Baloch 2%
Others 1%

Reference:

  1. Wikipedia

Pateh (Needlework) in Kerman

Kermani women use colorful threads on a wide piece of cloth, which they call “Ariz (meaning “wide” in Persian)” to make this scarf which is then decorated with very beautiful designs.

Pateh Kerman Tree, aigrette, pine, peacock, cypress, and armband are major patterns which are used to weave patehs. Pateh is woven in various types and sizes, including a size suitable to be used by brides to put their things in it. Some of them are big enough to be spread at tables, to decorate them.

Pateh is a kind of Iranian needle-works. Color and weven strings are sewed in the wide cloth are Shawl in the designs of Bute, Sarv and Toranj which created beautiful designs that are the result of endeavor of hard-working girls and woman of Kerman.

Pateh consists of two parts; the background of the Shawl named Ariz and the colorful and wooly spinners that called Pateh. Both cloth and spinner are wooden and provided in different colors. Pateh is made only in Kerman moreover; sewing Pateh is current in all township and villages around Kerman province particularly in Sirjan and Rafsanjan.

These designers have root in the Iranian culture and civilization. One of the most beautiful “Patehs” which has a unique sewin is the cover of the renowned Iranian mystic and poet, Shah Nematollah Vali tomb in Kerman’s town of Mahan. It has been sewed in 1285 Ah. It is the result of two year enduring work of sixteen woman of Kerman on a cloth at 355cm in length and 210cm in width. Of course there are other samples of this art throughout Kerman. [1]

Source: http://irannewsdaily.com/