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Mir-e Norouzi, the Protagonist of the Norouz Play

Tehran, Mar. 25 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency) -The story of Mir-e Norouzi, a temporary ruler who comes to throne during the 13-day holiday of Norouz, is one of the few stories with the spirit of these holidays taking the form of a dramatic art.

The arrival of spring time and the renewal of the year is enough for the Iranians to gather around joyfully and welcome the new changes with diverse celebrations, including theatrical plays, such as Mir-e Norouzi, Atash Afrouz, and Kouseh Barneshin.

Mir-e Norouzi is one of the most important of these plays, according to some scholars, still being performed in some areas of the Iranian land. The play involved a guy being chosen to sit at the golden throne for the thirteen days in the traditional holidays of Norouz.

The exact origins of the play are unknown, and nobody knows for sure who and when innitiated the play; however, references to this ruler have been found in many ancient writings, including the Jahan Gosha History by Ata'ol Molk Joveini, manuscripts by Dolat Shah Samarghandi dating back to the 6th century Hejira, and among the famous lyrics of the Iranian poet Hafiz.

Bahram Beizayi, the Iranian filmmaker and theater director, believes that the play is a successor of the pre-Islamic Kouseh Barneshin, which was later modified in the 5th and 6th centuries Hejira and named Mir-e Norouzi or the King of Norouz. The play was performed in all cities until half a century ago, today just surviving in the distant villages and towns of Iran.

Mir-e Norouzi was traditionally a low-class ugly man who came to throne during the Norouz holidays to issue orders such as confiscating properties of the rich or sentencing the oppresive for fun. This king was chosen either from among the ignorant, or from among the locals who were preferably simple or unitelligent, so that he would rule however he wanted and would bring laughter to the ceremonies of Norouz.

What counted really in the tradition was that it involved a great number of people, gathering around to listen to the unusual orders of their temporary king, music was played, and poems were sung in praise of spring, all of which brought joy and happiness to the festivals.

The social aspect of the play is something that scholars such as Mahmoud Ostad-Mohammad, author and director, would like to stress. They see it as an example of an Iranian demorcrat government. "Keeping the tradition alive is to pay homage to the free nature of the man, and to a social agreement between the ruler and the one under his rule. The tradition was once used to help stabilize the government and criticize it. Maybe it was a display of Iranian democracy," says Ostad-Mohammad.

Today the tradition is not as prevailing as it was in the old days, due to some reasons such as the invasion of the Mongols in the ancient times and the new influences by foreign cultures which have turned menacing as a result of incorrect reactions shown and the wrong position taken toward what is Iranian.

Nevertheless, research on the survival of the funny king has shown that Mir-e Norouzi still rules in some western parts of Iran, such as villages of Hamedan, during the Norouz holidays.

"Mir-e Norouzi is part of the Iranian intangible heritage, part of the cultural legacy of the land, living in the heart and soul of the people," believes theatre researcher, Laleh Taghian. It is a tradition which, like all others, definitely deserves to be documented and preserved for the later generations of the Iranian civilization yet to come.

... Payvand News - 3/27/05 ... --

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