Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's common in Charshanbe Suri and Halloween?



Picture source: Wikipedia

You can find information about our fire festival in the same wiki link that I gave you. You may also hear that tonight, Iranian cities have been defying orders of the soupreem Khamenei, and blastingly celebrating this ages-old tradition of our culture.

And here's what we used to do for charshanbeh souri (Wednesday Festival, literally):
Dress up in such a way to hide our identity; hold a bowl in our hands and go knock on neighbor's door. People who are visited are supposed to put nuts and cookies in our bowls. If they are friends and they detect who we are, they may splash us with a bowl of water. Once I splashed a bucket on a friend. We knock on the door, and then hit our bowls with a spoon. This is called "ghashogh-zani". Resembles Halloween, doesn't it? We too pretend to be the returning ghosts.

We also have to jump over bonfires. There must be seven. The bigger the better. Smaller ones are for little kids. Gigantic ones, I have never dared to jump over. (The reason: being caught in a house fire when I was 7. I have never recovered from the truama) When we jump on fire, we sing. In our song, we take the warmth of fire, of life, of spring, and give back to it our chill, our frost of winter, of heart. On this night we eat plenty of nuts, dried fruit, pomegranate. This is a fun night, a real festival.

Charshanbeh suri nights are prone to accidents, tragic ones at times. Kids do not take proper caution when they play with fire crackers.

Charshanbesuri nights have always been frowned upon since Islamic revolution, but we have ignored that. After the war, things relaxed a bit. But this year, the government is really scared. Let them be. We do what we must, what we have done for ages! Nothing hurts the tyrant more than being ignored and ridiculed!

I am going to go jump over a little candle now :)

Spring is beginning.

Iran will soon be green ... our patience will triumph ...

7 comments:

parvati_roma said...

Lots of fire-festival thingies on the first day of Spring in Italy, mostly - but not always - "disguised" as festivities in honour of the local patron saint ;)

As Charshanbe Suri is on ALMOST the same date as the Feast of St. Joseph ("San Giuseppe" - it's on 19th March), I google-checked to see how many pics of St Joseph's day celebrations I could find that involved bonfires (falò): results here,
traced to local-events pages from countless little towns and villages all over Italy. I also read what I could about the customs accompanying the bonfires: all involved neighbourhood/village-level partying with traditional foods, usually including special cakes and sweet fried pastries. Here's a rather nice video of a typical "St. Joseph's Day" bonfire festival, from a tiny wee town up in the hills in the southern region of Basilicata:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8kjnYX9cj8

Hey in some cases I even found mentions that jumping over the bonfires (if small) or embers (if large) is believed to chase away "old" bad luck and replace it with "new" good luck...! and in some parts of Italy up north, they say every family-farm has its own bonfire-party. VERY "Iranian", eh? But no Spring bonfire festivals in big cities though, and unfortunately none at all in the smallish-to-medium town just outside Rome where I live or in those nearest to it :( - although we make up for it with some really MAGNIFICENT fireworks displays, especially on Dec. 31st and on various local-church saints' days in late spring and summer. :)))

parvati_roma said...

Out of curiosity I started snooping around for more Italian small-town St. Joseph's Day aka traditional fire festival videos and came across this, from some wee place I've never even heard of down south in Calabria and couldn't resist sharing it with you - lol! OK Italians are famous for being mad about fireworks - the art of "pyrotechnical displays" is essentially a competition between us and the Chinese whom we originally stole the idea+techniques from back in our Silk Road days - but this MUST be the craziest fireworks display I've ever seen! :D

parvati_roma said...

Suspicion confirmed: the idea was stolen from the Chinese - they do a fireworks dance with dragons! But to attach the contraption-concept "safely" to St. Joseph + local lifestyle, our guys had to make do with donkeys...:((((

Masi Tashakori said...

I think u should revise ur text about the aim of "ghashogh zani"
بینید لغت‌نامه دهخدا درباره‌ی قاشق زنی چه می‌گوید:

[ ش ُ زَ ] (حامص مرکب ) قاشق زدن . عمل زنان قدیم در شب چهارشنبه سوری که برای گرفتن مراد و رسیدن به مقصود به طور ناشناس و نقاب زده به درخانه ها رفته و به وسیله ٔ زدن قاشق بر کاسه و یا بر در خانه اهل خانه را از آمدن قاشق زن خبر کرده ، ایشان نیز به وظیفه ٔ خود که آوردن مقداری آذوقه ٔ خشک و ناپخته است او را جواب گویند. و شرط آن است که مکالمه واقع نشود. رجوع به قاشق زدن شود.

Masi Tashakori said...

I think u should revise ur text about the aim of "ghashogh zani"
بینید لغت‌نامه دهخدا درباره‌ی قاشق زنی چه می‌گوید:

[ ش ُ زَ ] (حامص مرکب ) قاشق زدن . عمل زنان قدیم در شب چهارشنبه سوری که برای گرفتن مراد و رسیدن به مقصود به طور ناشناس و نقاب زده به درخانه ها رفته و به وسیله ٔ زدن قاشق بر کاسه و یا بر در خانه اهل خانه را از آمدن قاشق زن خبر کرده ، ایشان نیز به وظیفه ٔ خود که آوردن مقداری آذوقه ٔ خشک و ناپخته است او را جواب گویند. و شرط آن است که مکالمه واقع نشود. رجوع به قاشق زدن شود.

Naj said...

Thanks Masi for the information on the origins of the 'ritual'. Here, I described "what" we did as children, not "why" we did it. So it's fun to know why people gave us "aajil" or a bucket of water :))

Masi Tashakori said...

tnx for ur reply, I was noticed this ur sentence: " We too pretend to be the returning ghosts"