Iranian ancient Fire Festival

The last Wednesday before Nowruz (March 21st) is ChaharShanbeh Soori, Festival of Fire. ChaharShanbeh Soori or Charshanbe Soori, that literally means Wednesday Feast , is an ancient festival, dating back to 4000 years ago since the early Zoroastrian era, which is still celebrated the night before the last Wednesday of the year. The festivities start in the early evening. The people make bon-fires on the streets and jump over them. The streets coming alive with children and people as families spill out of their homes and greet each other. The young use much firework and firecrackers before and during the Chaharshanbe Soori. They jump over the fire and sing: “Sorkhie to az man, Zardieh man az to”, that means your redness (health) is mine, my paleness (pain, sick) is yours. In the past, the people run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons (Qāshoq Zani or spoon banging) to beat out the evil spirits. They will knock on doors while covered and in disguise and ask for treats. The practices are very similar to Halloween. Actually many scholars believe that the ancient ChaharShanbeh Soori, is the root of Halloween.

Charshanbeh Soori and Halloween

The ancient Iranians celebrated the last six days of the year in their annual obligation feast of all souls, Hamaspathmaedaya (Farvardigan or popularly Forodigan) which after the calendar reform under Ardasir I, the founder of the fourth Iranian dynasty, the Sasanians (224-651 CE). They believed Foruhars (fravahar), the guardian-angles for humans and also the spirits of dead would come back for reunion. These spirits were entertained as honored guests in their old homes, and were bidden a formal ritual farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The six-day festival also coincided with festivals celebrating the creation of fire and humans. In fact, The six feasts are assigned to a creation and its divinity in the order given in the Zoroastrian creation myth, the sixth being that of mankind, which was under the especial care, through his Holy Spirit, of Ahura Mazdā; and only its name, Hamaspathmaedaya, has yet to be satisfactorily explained. The ancient festival took place at night, and was probably called in Zoroaster’s day something like the “Night of Souls”. Each family then welcomed back their departed kindred to their old home, to be received with ritual blessings and gifts of consecrated food and clothing, the essence of which, through this consecration, was believed to reach them. The Fravasis, who were the family protectors, and it was presumably renamed «Night of the Fravasis» . Since Zoroastrianism seeks to further joy against sorrow, it was a happy celebration, with the hosts seeking to gladden their invisible guests with choice foods and with the brigthness cast by fires fragrant with incense.

The Wishes and Foods that is the Key elements in all Iranians Feast!

It is believed that wishes will come true on this night, reminiscent of ancient traditions. Wishes are made and in order to make them come true, it is customary to prepare special foods and distribute them on this night. Persian Noodle soup called ‘Ash’ or ‘Ashe Reshteh” that is cook Pottage Ribbon is made by themselves or assistance of friends and family members and serve it for guests and neighbors. It is cooked mainly by boiled beans and legumes, Spinach and some other vegetables, fried garlic and spearmint and noodles. And every one even strangers passing by will be served with nuts and dried fruits. This treat is called ‘Ajil-e Chahar Shanbeh Suri’ and is a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits, pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins. Local variations apply and the mixture is different according to the location and the group celebrating it
The Islamic Regime, The Protesters, and Chaharshanbeh Soori

Khamenei and other Mullahs said that the Persian fire festival is an un-Islamic event which causes “a lot of harm.” Khamenei said: that Chaharshanbe Soori has “no basis in sharia (Islamic religious law) and creates a lot of harm and corruption, (which is why) it is appropriate to avoid it.” The interesting point is that the ancient Nowruz and Chaharshanbeh Soori are a secular or even anti-religion feast. In fact, Khamenei and Mullahs are disagreed with these Iranian national feasts. They think like other Arabs and Islamists and ask Iranians to be good Muslims, but Iranians first want to Persian or Iranian and then want to be like a Sufi or moderate Muslim. In Chaharshanbe Soori, the people will fight against Mullahs and the Islamic regime with using firecrackers and other firework stuff, and it would be very interesting.

For further reading:

[1] Iranica Encyclopedia
[2] Zarathusahtrian Assembly

[3] The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies

[4] Iranian Studies at Harvard University

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