Iran Festivals; Most Celebrated Festivals of Iran
Iran Festivals : Priding millennia of antiquity, Persian culture is rich with numerous festivities, which have their roots in ancient beliefs of Zoroastrianism (estimated : 2nd millennium BC) and even earlier than that. Ancient Iran festivals are still observed in full force throughout the county.
What sets Persian festivals apart is that:
one, they are all in veneration of the nature; Two, they are all celebratory occasions even when loss and death are involved; Three, fire and light plays an important role in most occasions; Finally, they are to impart unity and compassion regardless of faith and race. Moreover, Christianity and Islam too have had their major shares of Iran festivals too.
Persian calendar brims with various festivities. Here we attend to a few top Iran festivals:
#1 Nowruz (Persian New Year)
Nowruz is the most prominent Iranian Festival, which marks the Persian New Year on the 1st day of Spring in Persian Solar calender (21st of March). Nowruz (lit. New Day) is the celebration of revival of nature and high hopes for a new beginning. Every year, Iranians, regardless of faith, celebrate Nowruz Holidays for 13 days with setting Haft-Seen Table and visiting family and friends.
Learn more about Nowruz Rituals !
#1 Chaharshanbe Souri :
Charshanbe Souri is one of the Iranian festivals preluding Nowruz, when Iranians celebrate on the eve of the last Wednesday before Norooz, with lighting bonfires and enjoying fireworks.
Charshanbe Souri is deemed as post-Islamic version of the ancient tradition of celebrating the last 5 days of the year by lighting fires in honor of the beloved lost ones, whose spirits was believed to come back to earth for reunion.
#2 Sizdah Bedar
Sizdah Bedar is an ancient festive ritual of concluding Nowruz Holidays on the 13th day. Iranians would leave their houses and picnic in the nature, and get ready to restart normal life with high spirits.
The 13th day festival in nature has its roots in Iranian ancient beliefs and mythology.
Learn more about: Sizdah Bedar Rituals.
#2 Yalda Night
Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh ( lit. night of forty) is one of Iran festivals which celebrates termination of the longest and darkest night of the year when light takes over, after which Winter begins in the Persian calendar (Eve of December 20/21).
Ancient Iranians celebrated the night as the birth night of Divinity of Mithras (Mehr) who oversees light, covenant and oath. Mithras is also the protector of truth, cattle and harvest.
On Yalda night, friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poems of Hafez (famous for his power of divination) until well after midnight.
#3 Mehregan Festival
Mehregan Festival is the second most important Iran festival among Zoroastrians, after Nowruz. They celebrate it on October 2nd (10th of Mehr in Persian Calendar), in honor of Mithras (or Mehr : meaning affection), the deity of love and friendship, hence a day to honor these qualities.
The day was also a celebration of Autumn harvest too, to give thanks to God for a prosperous season ahead.
Today the Zoroastrian community of Iran (esp. in Yazd and Kerman) celebrate this day by wearing new clothes, setting a table of symbolic items and sweets, nuts and fruits. They perform specific rituals of praying, slaughtering a sheep by noon and lighting bonfires in the evening and concluding the ceremony with a lavish dinner.
#4 Sadeh Festival
Sadeh is one of prominent the ancient Iranian festivals, still widely observed throughout the country, primarily by Zoroastrians, yet other Iranians too participate in honor of their ancient roots.
The festival is held mid winter (January 10th), lasting up to 3 days, to honor warmth and to defeat the forces of darkness, frost, and cold of winter, by lighting large fires, and performing rituals. Gathering the wood a day before the festival is part of the ritual as well. The evenings are spent eating and giving out foods as donations.
#5 Muharram Festival
One of the prominent religious Iran festivals is observed in the month of Muharram of Islamic Calendar, most remarkably since Safavid era, 16th century BC.
As a predominantly Shi’ite Muslim country, the festival of Muharram is practiced across the country in full force, as a mourning remembrance of the martyrdom 3rd Imam of Shias and grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein in the Battle of Karbala the 7th century BC.
Iranian Muslims perform different rituals of Taziya (a theatrical re-inacatment of the battle), Noha (lamentation), processions and carrying Alam , a symbolic ensign on the streets, mosques and congregation centers. Also, votive food offerings are distributed among people.
#6 Kashan Rose Water Festival
One of the popular Iran festivals is held in Kashan. The city is renowned for its luxuriant fragrant Muhammadi Rose gardens.
Every year during early May to mid-June, thousands of tourist visit different towns of the region, such as Qamsar, to observe the graceful tradition of picking roses and making rose water. During this period the air is filled with the heavenly scent of colorful Muhammadi roses abundant throughout the region.
Rose water of Kashan is famous for its flavor and scent and is widely used Iranian traditional drinks and cuisine. Rose water, for its soothing and imposing scent, is also used as air freshener in Iran’s holy shrines and mosques, when crowded. Some also use rose water as a perfume.