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Iran: Women's Horse Racing Competition

7/12/04 By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

My friend Jasem Ghazbanpour who is a well known photographer and whose recent book with pictures of Bam, before and after the earthquake, was featured in Payvand, told me about a race which took place last month in East of Azerbaijan, in the valley of Ghreghiyeh near city of Kelidar, where you can find many historical sites, including Babak Khorramdin's Fort (Babak Khorramdin is an important and popular historical figure).

I was informed that this race, the first of which started 12 years ago, is meant only for the Nomads as the race is called mosabegheyeh savarkari ashayer (The Nomads' Horse Racing Competition). There are four competition categories, Men and Women Horse Racing as well as Camel Riding for Men and the Best Sheep competitions. Depending on the weather, the race takes place around May -end of Ordibehesht.

This event has become very popular and many would travel long distances to attend the one-day-event. It has become so popular that last year sazemaneh tarbiyat badani (Sport & Recreational Activities Institute) took over the running of the games, and this year the ceremony was inaugurated by the local Emam. What I found most interesting is the number of women that take part in this event and sense of power and pride that we can note in them.

By the way, Babak Khorramdin's annual remembrance celebration, usually takes place the week after the races in the same area.

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