Tehran and the magical smell of Saffron in the air

Written on January 7, 2011 by Banafsheh Farhangmehr in Arts & Cultures & Societies

by Banafsheh Farhangmehr, External Relations Coordinator at IE School of Arts & Humanities and graduate student of Master in Management in Marketing of IE

During the Christmas vacation I went back to my hometown, Tehran. To a lot of people´s surprise, December 24th is like every other day in Iran. No celebration, no Santa Claus and no Christmas tree!

My visit coincided with Muharram, it´s the first month of Islamic Calender (lunar). For most of Arabs and Muslims the first 10 days is a period of celebration, but for Iranians (Shia Muslims) it is opposite, it is the period of memorial of Imam Hussain, the Prophet’s grandson, who was killed by the Islamic ruler of that time, Yazid.

Since childhood I loved this period because you feel the unity among the poor and the rich, the old and the young. There is a magical and spiritual atmosphere in the air.

It is a tradition that families who can afford, cook large pots of food in their home and give it to the poor of the neighborhood. Young people in the street offer special syrups to mourners and old ladies give Shole Zard, Sweet rice with Saffron, a traditional Persian dessert in which the names of our Prophet and leaders are written in cinnamon.

During these days wherever you go, you can smell the pleasant aroma of saffron in the air.

Mourners wear black cloth and they walk for kilometers. They mourn, they pray and they light up some candles for Imam’s memorial and they ask God for their wishes.

When the sun goes down mourners head towards the mosques, listen to Nohe (mourning quotes) and eat the Nazri food. It cannot be more divine when they turn off the light in the mosque, and people start praying and reading Doa. Just an ideal environment for you to sit, have an alone time, think about life and what you are doing…

…it is just beautiful


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