Chahrshanbehsuri: the Scarlet Wednesday Custom in Iran

  December 07, 2020   Read time 1 min
Chahrshanbehsuri: the Scarlet Wednesday Custom in Iran
Islamic Iran still continues to celebrate many Zoroastrian sacred events including "the Scarlet Wednesday". In one sense, Zoroastrianism due to its strong monotheistic tone has survived through numerous centuries in Persia and Iranian people continue to celebrate many Zoroastrian occasions.

On the evening before Chaharshanbehsuri (colloquially pronounced Charshambeh-suri), people gather whatever type of kindling is common in their locality and make bonfi res in their yards, the streets, or the open country. Whoever wishes and is able—men, women, children—jump over the fl ames while singing, “Your redness to me, my pallor to you”; the ritual is intended to ensure good health and fortune for the coming year. Traditionally, there are various rules that apply to how the fi re is tended and how the ashes are dealt with subsequently (reminders, perhaps, of the sacredness of fi re in Zoroastrianism). Many other supplementary or local customs are practiced in connection with the holiday. The most common include setting off fi reworks; “banging spoons” ( qashoq-zani ), when young people go door-to -door banging a spoon on a plate and receiving little gifts, in some ways similar to Halloween door-to-door visits; social gatherings where people stay up most of the night snacking on fruits and nuts and burning rue seeds to ward off misfortune; making a special dish known as the soup of Abu Dardâ to give to people who have been chronically ill; and smashing an old pot or jug after jumping over the fi re (another omen of good luck, as is the general practice of spring cleaning and refurbishing the house that follows the holiday). Despite, or perhaps because, of its popularity, conservative Muslim religious leaders view this holiday, and indeed most of the others in this category, with a good deal of suspicion as non-Islamic and pagan in character and have occasionally tried to suppress or constrain it, but without much success. It can be a particularly sensitive issue when the holiday falls at the same time as Moharram, as happened recently (Source: Iran Customs and Values).


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