Friday, April 22, 2011

Iran, so much more than religion

This story caught my attention last week. On the second of April the Iranian people celebrated the pre Islamic festival of Sizdah Be-dar or outdoors festival. It should serve as a reminder to all that ancient Iran has a magnificent and fascinating history and culture that pre dates Islam by nearly 2000 years, a fact that does not sit well with many ruling clerics. So much so that they tend to be hostile toward these festivals and have on occasions tried to ban them outright.

This from the Los Angelas Times

At a park in western Tehran, men played backgammon or chess, while young women inside makeshift tents could be seen without their head scarves, in a gesture of defiance against the nation's Islamic order. Young men smoked sheesha as families performed line dances while striking tambourines.Security forces were out as well, making sure the celebrations didn't turn into the type of anti-government protests they so fear. Pro-government news outlets and officials have taken to calling the 13th day of the Persian calendar month "The Day of Nature" instead of "Sizdah Bedar," in an attempt to rebrand it away from its pre-Islamic past and anticlerical undertones.

It was this Persian spirit that excited me so much during my 2004 trip to Iran to interview students about the unrest that occured the previous year. And it is that spirit that I know will, sooner or later bring down the fascist thocratic regime.

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