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Noruz in Iran: Customs and Traditions (Part II)

Source: IRNA

Despite laps of centuries the people of Hamedan are still observing the Noruz rites. Celebrations marking the occasion start in Hamedan one month before the start of the New Year and last until Farvardin 13.

One month before Noruz, children gather fragrant herbs and plants from mountains and put them on sale.

The people too buy the good smelling plants from the little peddlers, who pass as many alleys as possible hoping to earn more money.

People of Hamedan believe that if cold weather ends ten days prior to Noruz, the new year would be a blessing.

The people start eating some herbs two weeks before Noruz, believing that the practice would immunize them against any disease throughout the year.

The Chaharshanbe Soori ceremony begins from the evening until late night.

People set fire on old grooms and light firecrackers.

They also spray rose water on each other.

People cook 'Halva' (a special dish prepared from sugar and flour) on the last Thursday of the year and visit the tombs of dead relatives, distributing the dish among the people.

They may also distribute it among neighbors.

Hamedani residents buy jars on the night of the New Year.

They believe that they should drink water from the jar during the first moments of the New Year.

People lay henna on their nails and toes before the commencement of the New Year.

Upon the moment when the New Year begins the young call upon the old to congratulate them on the occasion.

Everybody hugs and kisses the others and gives or receives Eidies gifts that that are usually coins or new bank notes).

They have sweets and pastries.

It is a custom in the region that old men and women go to Alims to congratulate them on the occasion.

The Alims, in return, give the first visitors each a coin or other gifts.

Noruz celebrations last until Farvardin 13, marking Sizde Bedar.

On that day the people seek haven amid nature and enjoy themselves by playing games and eating nuts and special dishes such as Sabzi-Polow- Mahi (fish, rice and vegetables) or Ash-e-Reshte (an Iranian gavy soup).

In Rasht (Gilan Province) well wishers, usually in groups of two or three, tour all over streets and alleys and sing songs of happiness on the occasion of Noruz, marking the start of the New Year.

Citizens give such gifts as cash, rice, eggs, wheat or flour to the well wishers as a thanks giving in return.

The practice is usually customary in districts of Hashtpar, Talesh, Rezvanshahr, and Asalem.

Single boys and girls too believe that if the well wishers perform actions next to their residence the new year would be an abundant one for them and they would get married during the year.

House cleaning, Chaharshanbe Soori, Sizde Bedar, exchange of visits, presentation of gifts or wearing new clothes are among other rites observed in Rasht during Noruz.

On the occasion of Noruz special shows are staged in Bandar Anzali (a port city in Gilan Province) and well wishers, usually in groups of two, sing songs and strike their tambourines and drums.

People in return present them such gifts as honey, cheese, walnuts, eggs, so on.

Dusting, preparation of special sweets and breads and purchase of necessary items by housewives, lighting bonfires on the occasion of the fire festival, giving or receiving Eidies, visiting relatives and going on picnics on the day of Sizde Bedar, falling on Farvardin 13, the climax of Noruz celebrations, are among rites observed in the city.

Semnan usually hosts many passengers, who pass through it to reach the holy city of Mashhad (Khorasan Province), where the eighth nfallible Imam of Infallible Household of prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) Imam Ali ibn Mousa Al-Reza's (AS) holy shrine is located.

Special preparations are made by the city officials to receive the large number of the city's visitors during Noruz vacations.

One month before Noruz all families clean furniture and dishes and purchase the necessary items to mark the occasion.

They set their Haftseen tablecloths, grow seeds, buy red fish and flowers, and cook Samanoo (A dish prepared from malt and flour) and sweets.

They also attend religious sites upon commencement of the New Year.

Noruz is observed in the northeastern Iranian city of Shahrud (Semnan Province) by the people through house cleaning, growing seeds, lighting fires on the last Tuesday of the year, called Chaharshanbe Soori (Red Wednesday's Fire Festival), cooking sweets and breads, buying fish and clothes, and other necessary items, setting the Haftseen tablecloths containing seven objects whose names start with the `S' sound, visiting relatives especially the elderly, visiting the tombs of the departed ones, and going outdoors on the last day of Noruz vacations, called Sizde Bedar.

On this day the housewives turn to Qibla and throw trays of grown seeds away.

They consider the last Wednesday of the old year as a sinister day.

The old members of the family give gifts to the younger ones on the occasion of Noruz.

In the southern Iranian city of Bandr Abbas (Hormozgan Province), the traditional feast of Noruz is observed through removing dirt from houses, lighting bonfires on the day of the fire festival, buying and wearing new clothes, burning goods smelling substances such as `Esfand', 'Kondor' and 'Oud'.

New notes placed inside Quran are given to others, especially to the children.

People lay lettuce and Quran on Haftseen tablecloths and considered them as symbols of physical and spiritual health.

The wools of the cattle were usually cut before Noruz in the past.

On the first night of the New Year, the people also turn on all the lights and leave them on till morning.

They gather fragrant flowers and good smelling herbs, prepare sweets and cookies, exchange gifts and visit each other, go outdoors on the last day of the vacations.

During Noruz the newly-wed bridegrooms present gifts to their brides.

There is also a rite called `Qashoq-Zani' in which young boys go to the people's doors and hit spoons on a dish and demand gifts.

The owners of each house fill the boys dishes with gifts.

The people of the southern Iranian city of Taft (Yazd Province) prepare sweets for distribution all over the country during Noruz.

The sweet cooking centers are busy preparing candies one month before the start of the New Year.

They earn a considerable amount of money for their products.

Qottab, Lowz, Pashmak, and Baqlava are among the sweets.

Any family cleans their house and buys necessary items.

The people go to visit each other during Noruz.

Among the other festivals observed by the citizens there are the Wednesday Fire Festival, setting the Haftseen table or tablecloth and going outdoors on the 13th of Farvardin, called Sizde Bedar.

They also call on the families who have lost their beloved ones during the past year.

Iranians living in Noshahr (Mazandaran Province) cook sweets, paint walls, and set the Haftseen tablecloth full of sweets.

The women cook special meals and grow seeds.

They wear the clothes they themselves sew.

They also leap over bonfires on the evening of the Wednesday Fire Festival and go to visit their relatives.

They go to green areas for recreation on the last day of Noruz.

Dusting, wearing new garments, growing seeds, buying nuts, cooking sweets, trading gifts and Eidies are the most outstanding traditions during Noruz festival in the historical city of Isfahan.

Women spread washed rugs on rooftops.

On the last Tuesday of the year young boys go to deserts and ather woods for firing on the evening of the Red Wednesday Fire Festival.

In certain regions of Isfahan Province such as Na'ein, Khor and Anarak the people do not consider it as wise to leap over bonfires.

They throw down bonfires from the top of their buildings instead and break jars.

People in Delijan (Central Province) welcome the New Year one month before its commencement.

Women prepare special soups.

Some housewives cook much of such soups for distribution among the neighbors failing to cook it.

Bridegrooms present gifts to brides prior to Noruz.

Seeds are grown and new clothes are bought before Noruz.

Sweets are cooked by housewives and fires are lit on the day of Chaharshanbe Soori.

Upon the advent of the new year they call on relatives and kiss and congratulate each other on the occasion.

Like all Iranians, the people go to nature to celebrate Sizdebedar.

Khorramabad (Lorestan Province) is home to thousands of tourists coming to the city to visit its tourist attractions and historic sites.

People of Khorramabad are well known for their hospitality.

Khorramabad houses such historical monuments as Falak-ul-Aflak, that lies atop a hill in the middle of the city.

It dates back to the Sassanid era.

The monument is situated over a 5,300 square meter land.

Khorramabad is green all over in spring and thousands of Iranian and foreign tourists enjoy being there.

Poldokhtar is a giant bridge which lies in Malavi district, 110 kms south of Khorramabad.

Pol-e-Kashan is another bridge which passes over Sarkesh Keshkan River, 52 kms from Khorramabad.

Imamzadeh Zeyd bin Ali, Imamzadeh Qassem Azna, Imamzadeh Mohammad, Imamzadeh Ahmad, Imamzadeh Abulqassem and Vahab and Imamzadeh Abulhassan are among the religious centers lying in the city.

Gohar Lake offers the most beautiful landscape in the region.

It is at the heart of the Oshtoran Kouh (Mountain) in the East of Lorestan.

The lake is 40 kms to the south of Dorud and lies 2,360 meters above the sea.

Regional people observe many Noruz rites, including house cleaning, Chaharshanbe Soori (Red Wednesday Fire Festival), setting Haftseen tablecloths, exchanging gifts, family get-togethers upon the arrival of the New Year, exchange of visits during the 13 days of Noruz vacations, visiting bereaved families, and going outdoors on the day, marking Sizdebedar.

Qazvin, a center for human civilizations, has also a share in Noruz celebrations.

As archaeological excavations reveal, it has been a city, featured by agricultural activities and firm family bonds in the seventh millennium.

Qazvin, a province housing 2,000 ancient sites and many tourist centers and natural scenes has many handicrafts, and is an invaluable tourist site of Iran.

Imamzadeh Hossein (AS), known as Shazdeh Hossein, is a religious site in the province.

It is believed to be the tomb of Hossein (AS), the son of Imam Ali ibn Mousa Al-Reza (AS), the eighth infallible Imam of Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) household.

Peyghambariyyeh, a site believed to house four messengers of the sons of Israel, named Salam, Salum, Sahuli and Alqia, is among the other religious sites attended by the people of Qazvin on the first day of each month.

Chehelsotun or Kolah-Farangi, the important site dating back to the Safavid era, poses a beautiful landscape to any viewer.

It is located in the middle of a big garden.

Bazaar of Qazvin is an attractive and old monument that is placed in a tourist center.

There are alos the Sardar Public Bath, Jamea' Mosque, Mowla Verdi-Khan, Hakim and Haj Kazem water reservoirs of Qazvin.

Peyghambariyyeh, Mowlaverdikhan, Salehieh, Sheikholeslam and Sardar seminaries of the Qazvin, too are now parts of the tourist attractions of the province.

Tombs of Sheikh Ahmad Ghazali and Hamdollah Mostowfi, Hosseiniyyeh of Aminis, Assyrians' Churches, named Kantoru and St. Varkanian Church of the Christians are among the other beautiful sites of Qazvin.

Alamut occupies an extensive area in northeast of Qazvin Province.

It is at the outskirts of the central parts of Alborz Mountain Range and on the sideline of the Shahrud big Valley.

The region is attributed to a fable on Hassan Sabbah and his successors, the Hashashin.

Hassan Sabbah's castles comples, Lambsar, Shirkourh, Shahrak, Nowrizshah, Ilan, Qastin Lar, Sepuhin and Bazargah are among the other beautiful castles in the province.

There are 30 more religious and historical sites in the province.

Qazvin is 130 kms west of the capital city, Tehran, with its mountainous pleasant weather, abundant tourist sites, old history, and many souvenirs, including a sweet called Baqlava and many other types of special candies, pistachios, raisins, almonds, gilims and jajims.

More than 40 million people pass this historical province in a year.

Noruz, this ancient Iranian festival, shares close bonds with the old city of Damavand (Tehran Province) and its people.

Noruz traditions have been observed in Damavand region gloriously and the passage of time has not left much impact on spiritual relations with the holy feast and local residents.

Perhaps one can feel the bond in warm welcome accorded by people in various parts of Damavand to Noruz.

Noruz is welcomed nearly one month prior to its advent.

Purchasing new clothes, house dusting, washing furniture, cooking such sweets as Tutak, Lowz, Jowz-e-Qand, Masqati, Nashkanak and Qatiki, exchange of visits, recitation of songs, Chaharshanbe Soori (Red Wednesday Fire Festival), cooking special soups and dishes containing vegetables, setting Haftseen tablecloths, and paying a visit to green areas on the last day of Noruz vacations, called Sizde Bedar are among these rites.

Damavand has many underground water reservoirs and springs, natural landscapes, important monuments such as Jame'a Mosque, which dates back to Saljukids era, holy and religious sites, including Imamzadeh Hashem, Imamzadeh Abdullah, Imamzadeh Obeydollah, Imamzadeh Haft-Tan, Shamseddin Mohammad and Imamzadeh Qasem, Pagonbad Bridge and tomb of Sheikh Shebli.

More than one million passengers and tourists both from Iran and other countries visit various regions of Damavand during Noruz.

Noruz has long records in Central Province and people of the region celebrate the end of the winter season and the approaching of spring season.

Chaharshanbe Soori (Red Wednesady Fire Festival) is among the ceremonies held by the citizens on the occasion.

In ancient Iran light, sunlight and fire were symbols of Ahura Mazda and in view of the local people, fire was the gem of life, love and worshipping.

Iranian fables attribute invention of fire to Iranians and believe that lighting fire or lights would remove darkness and the vice.

Later, Iranians took light and fire as symbols of existence and life was regarded as synonymous to knowledge, wisdom and progress.

They considered black snake as sign of darkness, the vices, badness and ugliness.

There were festivals in ancient Iran.

The most important of which were the Sadeh Festival, that is now called as Chaharshanbe Soori (Red Wednesday Fire Festival).

Azadegan, a festival held late November, Shahrivargan and Azar Jashn were the festivals which are no longer celebrated today.

But the exact date of the festival's celebration on the last Tuesday of the year is not clear.

The fire festival is celebrated by lighting fire on rooftops, alleys and streets and jumping over it as a gesture of happiness and worshipping Ahuramzadeh, the God of Zoroastrians.

Women are the first people in Yasouj (Koh-Gilouyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province) to welcome the approach of Spring. They wash furniture and clean their houses. House dusting begins usually two weeks before the turn of the year.

Every member of each family tries his/her best to bring about desirable changes in their families before the commencement of the new year.

Girls and boys place the `Sabzeh' (sprouted seeds) along with a copy of the holy Quran and different kinds of candies on the family Haftseen tablecloth.

After the turn of the year, and as the New Year begins, the people leave their homes to visit friends and relatives.

Elder members of the families and the old folks present gifts to youngsters and the younger family members during Noruz.

People try their best to set aside their disputes and differences, if any, during Noruz and congratulate each other on the occasion.

Men and women go to visit the tombs of bygone relatives and pay homage to religious sites on the last thursday night of the old year.

Neighbors and relatives also visit the bereaved families and friends during Noruz holidays.

The last Friday of the old year, too, is the day for visiting the tombs of the dead, Housewives cook dishes and distribute them among others, including neighbors, particularly among the poor, hoping that their lost ones would benefit from this humane practice.

People believe that as the living bodies need funds, the dead, too need them.

In some provinces, the people have warm dishes on the last night of he year, such as meat and rice or fish and rice.

Several days before the beginning of the new year, the people buy clothes and sweets.

A large number of families living in cold regions arrange for tours to the warm regions and holy sites.

Upon the approach of the last month of the Iranian year, Esfand, the people in the southeastern city of Kerman prepare to welcome the new year.

They start house dusting, cleaning, washing carpets, blankets, curtains, moquetts and other house appliances, believing that one should start the new year with cleanliness of soul, body, mind and surroundings .

Two weeks before the beginning of the New Year, women grow such seeds as wheat, lentil and peas in different sized pots and also an Iranian seed called `Tartizak' on he outer surface of clay jars.

They light bonfires and leap over them at the evening of the last Tuesday of the old year and visit the dead bodies on the last Thursday of the year.

Noruz avails children with a good opportunity to save their Eidis (gifts they receive during the Noruz Festival that is usually money) and either save or spend it afterwards, if their bankrupt parents do not rob them of it! They enjoy Noruz also because the schools are closed for a fortnight.

Giving Eidies to children is a widespread ancient Iranian rite that is practiced among most Persian speaking folks in region.

It makes the children and the grown ups happy mutually.

Many housewives prepare sweets, staring some two weeks before Noruz.

The most traditional sweet prepared by women in Kerman is Kolompe and Komaj-Sen.

Kolompe is a round sandwich-like cookie which includes mushed dates and certain nuts.

Special designs cover the surface of delicious Kolompes.

Komaj-Sen, too, contains flour, malt syrup, grated dates, walnuts, and the fragrance of certain plants.

The surface of this cookie is designed by sprinkling pistachio powder.

Haj-Gerdou, Haj-Peste, Nan-Par, Pofak-Nargili, Pofak-Gerdoui, Noon-Nokhodchi, Qauot and Noon-Charkhi are among the other sweets prepared by Kermani women before Noruz.

It is difficult for Kermani women to prepare Qaout. Due to the same reason they prefer to buy it from shops.

However, elder women prefer to cook it themselves.

Housewives in Kerman also shoulder the responsibility of buying mixed dried nuts, containing watermelon and pumpkin seeds, pistachios, almonds, roasted peas and hazelnuts.

The People of Kerman also set Haftseen tablecloths, in which they place seven objects whose names start with `S' sounds, including apples (Seeb), sumac (Somaq), vinegar (Serkeh), wild olive fruits (Senjed), garlic (Seer), juice of germinating wheat or malt mixed with flour and brought to a consistency during a lengthy process (Samanoo) and a dish of specially raised wheat or other seeds (Sabzeh).

They also lay Quran, mirror and red fish on their Haftseen tablecloths.

On the beginning moments of the new year, the old members of the families recite Quran and pray to Almighty Allah for the well being of all.

After the beginning of the new year, family members kiss and congratulate each other on the occasion.

Exciting scenes might be observed during these sensational moments! They usually serve Sabzipolo Mahi (a tasty delicious dish of fish, rice and cooked vegetables, particularly fresh-cooked garlics) prepared with special delicacy.

They exchange visits and go to visit the elder family members.

They set aside all differences and make up with those they had broken up on the first hours of each new year.

They leave their homes wearing new clothes from tip to toe.

They go outdoors on the thirteenth day of Farvardin and the day is called `Sizde Bedar' meaning the thirteenth day should be spent outdoors .

Noruz is an auspicious occasion for the Kurds like any other noble Iranian people.

They consider it as the time for revival of the soul into the dead body of the earth.

Women in Mahabad (Kordestan Province) go to visit the tombs of the bygones and pay homage to religious sites on the last Wednesday of the year.

On `Chaharshanbe Soori' (the red Wednesday) they set fires aflame and leap over them jubilantly, wearing new clothes.

Young boys knock at the doors of neighbors on Chaharshanbe Soori, asking for gifts and the neighbors usually grant them money or other gifts, including sweets or dried nuts.

Families cook many dishes on the day and believe that anything one does on the first day and night of the New Year, he or she will keep doing until end of the year! People go to rivers and splash water on their faces if they have the chance to do so on the fist day.

The elder members of families give money and gifts to the younger ones.

Upon the turning in of the new year, the children take a tour of all relatives' houses and collect their Eidies (usually money), have fruits, sweets, punches and other goodies! In certain rural villages and towns young boys go on the rooftops of their favorite girls and ask for matrimony.

Colourfed eggs that decorate the Haftseen tablecloths are often gifted to children during Noruz.

Sizdebedar, the last day of Noruz vacations, is celebrated quite joyfully outdoors by a great majority of the Iranians inside and outside Iran.

Noruz is celebrated in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz (East Azarbaijan Province) several months before the beginning of the New Year and continues until Farvardin 13th, that is the end point of Noruz celebrities and vacations.

Housewives clean houses, grandmothers dye eggs, often with onion skins, for distribution among their grandchildren, and new clothes are worn.

The old members of clans are the first ones to be visited during Noruz.

People also call on the families who have lost their beloved ones during the past year.

Exchange of visits are mostly evident as of the second day of Farvardin, the first month in Iranian calender.

Young boys are the ones who observe the rite `Shal Sallama'.

They go atop the houses of their beloved ones and hang a long fabric from the building.

The fabric contains gifts and money for the beloved.

In certain regions such meals as `Polow' (specially prepared rice), `Dolmeh' (stuffed and wrapped young grape leaves) , `Ash-e- Reshte' (an Iranian gravy with noodles) and `Khagine' (sweetened eggs omelet) are prepared.

Usually the babies born during Noruz celebrations are named as Bayram, Bayram-Ali, Noruz, Noruz-Ali or Noruz-Qoli.

They believe anyone that eats Ash-e-Reshte a night before the commencement of the New year would experience many happy affairs.

All over the night all lights are left on besides the many lit candles that burn till morning and the people try to prevent darkness as they best could.

On the first day of the year all those who have had disputes and nsolved differences during the year call on each other and make up.

Special songs are also sung by well-wishers, who are in local dialect called `Sayachi'. Sayachis stage shows by dolls and receive gifts from local citizens for their joyous performance.

On the last day of Noruz vacations, people go to nature and munch nuts.

They throw sprouted seeds to rivers and waters.

Girls, on the 13th day of Farvardin, called as Sizde Bedar (Thirteenth-Outdoors), tie grass blades, take off their shoes and throw them towards gates.

If the front side of the shoes face upward when dropped, they assume that the girl would get married during the New Year! Young girls go to rivers and wet their hairs.

They believe that the practice would add to their beauty, ignoring the old saying that it is skin-deep! People decorate their houses with flowers during Noruz.

They also exchange visits and gifts.

Iranian Arabs of Khuzestan Province take Noruz as the Spring Festival.

It is the most important festival among them.

They get happy with the joyous arrival of Noruz, this most magnificent traditional Iranian festival.

They scatter flowers and plants on their rooftops to make their residence more beautiful.

They place the items they bought for Noruz in a big tray and keep it until the end of Noruz, Farvardin 13th.

They go outdoors on Sizde Bedar, which falls on Farvardin 13th.

Borujerd (Lorestan Province) is a historical, religious and natural resort of Iran. It is thus attractive for tourists coming to the area during Noruz vacations.

The city, with its over 340,000 population, is the second major city of Lorestan Province.

It is situated to the North of the province.

Borujerd's original construction dates back to four thousand years ago.

The relics discovered in the city point to the existence of a big civilization there.

Statistics show there are 200 historical, tourist, religious and cultural centers in the city.

Ancient fire temples, Jame'a Mosque, Soltani Mosque, dating back to Qajarid era, Qal'eh Hatam Bridge, dating back to more than 100 years ago, tombs of Imamzadeh Ja'far (AS), Imamzadeh Qassem-Abolhassan, Imamzadeh Ahmad, Imamzadeh Khaled bin Ali, Imamzadeh Haft-Tan, Imamzadeh Hukian Zavarijan, and tomb of Duo-Khaharan are among the other attractive sites of Borujerd.

The schools of Shahzadeh, of the late Haj Mollah Assadollah and of Nourbakhsh are among others.

Also see Part I.

... Payvand News - 03/20/08 ... --

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