Tehran is emptying forward of the Persian New Year, as is the case yearly, however this time round Iranians are being pressured to adapt because the competition coincides with Ramadan.
Over 300 million folks in a dozen international locations — together with Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey — will want one another “Nowruz mobarak” or Happy New Year on Tuesday, when Iranians mark the entry into the yr 1402 on the Persian calendar.
Celebrated for some 3,000 years, the brand new yr competition of Nowruz begins on the primary day of spring and celebrates the rebirth of nature, ushering in almost two weeks of silence on the usually bustling streets of Tehran as folks abandon town for the countryside.
“For 15 days, we try to forget the difficulties of everyday life by having a good time, eating carefully prepared meals and offering gifts to family and friends,” stated Laleh, a scholar leaving Tehran for her home metropolis of Tabriz within the northwest.
This yr nevertheless Muslims who rejoice Nowruz, together with almost all of Iran’s 85 million inhabitants, should reconcile these traditions with the obligations of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting.
During Ramadan, which is because of start on March 22 or 23, Muslims are invited to chorus from consuming and consuming from daybreak to nightfall.
That poses a dilemma for the closing festivities of Nowruz, 12 days after the flip of the brand new yr marked by Sizdeh Bedar, or “the day of nature”, throughout which Iranians go for picnics in greenery.
Last yr, Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri warned those that fail to quick in public will liable to be punished.
Even consuming in your automobile, which “is not considered a private space”, is punishable, he added.
Religious professional Mohsen Alviri advises these planning to have picnics to go with out meals till breaking their quick.
“In Shiite jurisprudence, if the faithful travel a certain distance from their city of residence, they are considered travellers and may not fast,” he stated.
– ‘Sad yr’ –
Although it’s thought-about a pagan competition, Nowruz was by no means actually challenged in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“There is no doubt that Nowruz is a national holiday that existed before Islam. But it does not contradict any of the Muslim teachings,” stated Mohsen Alviri, a Shiite cleric and spiritual historian in Tehran.
“Nowruz pays attention to the preservation of nature and emphasises eliminating resentment between people, respecting elders, visiting relatives… these are values that are strongly recommended by Islam,” he added.
While ready for Nowruz, nevertheless, some Iranians say they don’t seem to be in a festive temper after a tough yr marked by excessive inflation and tensions on the road.
Iran has been the goal of crippling US financial sanctions since 2018, the yr then-president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear deal.
The Islamic republic has additionally been rocked by a protest motion that flared after the September 16 dying in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for an alleged breach of the strict costume code for girls.
The ensuing violence claimed the lives of tons of of individuals, together with dozens of safety personnel, and noticed hundreds extra arrested, casting a shadow over this yr’s new yr celebrations.
“This is a very sad year. I used to love Nowruz but I’m so unhappy that I haven’t even cleaned the house,” stated Effat, a 75-year-old lady procuring at Tehran’s Tajrish bazaar.
“I haven’t even bought a goldfish and a jar of wheat sprouts,” she stated, referring to symbolic objects used to mark the competition.
But Razieh, a housewife in her 50s, can solely gaze on the stalls overflowing with vibrant items for the competition.
“I ask the prices, but without being able to buy much,” she stated with a sigh.