Iranians defy hard-liners to mark ‘Festival of Fire’

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranians are defying religious hard-liners to celebrate the “Festival of Fire,” a nearly 4,000-year-old Persian tradition.

In Tehran, people lit bonfires in public places, set off fireworks and sent wish lanterns floating into the night sky as part of an annual ritual that dates back to at least 1700 B.C. and is linked to Zoroastrianism.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, hard-liners have discouraged the celebration, viewing it as a pagan holdover from pre-Islamic times. Police warned revelers to avoid major streets and squares but have not moved to disperse them.

The holiday comes ahead of Nowruz, the Persian new year, which will be celebrated on March 21.

Go for it, people!

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  • Blacksmith

    FREEDOM!

  • SDMatt

    Some Wiki stuff:

    The persecution of Zoroastrians occurred throughout its history. The discrimination and harassment began in the form of sparse violence and forced conversions. Muslims are recorded to have destroyed fire temples. Zoroastrians living under Muslim rule were required to pay a tax called Jizya.

    Zoroastrian places of worship were desecrated, shrines were destroyed and Mosques built in their place. Many libraries were burned and much cultural heritage was lost. Gradually there were increased number of laws regulating Zoroastrian behavior, limiting their ability to participate in society. Over time, persecution of Zoroastrians became more common and widespread, and the number of believers decreased significantly.

    Many converted, some superficially, to escape the systematic abuse and discrimination by the law of the land. Once a Zoroastrian family converted to Islam, the children had to go to an Islamic school and learn Arabic and the teachings of the Quran and these children lost their Zoroastrian identity, although under the Samanids, who were Zoroastrian converts to Islam, the Persian language flourished.

    So they got in boats and left Iran for India.

    At the beginning of the 10th century a small group of Zoroastrians living around the town of Nyshapour and Fort of Sanjan in the province of (greater) Khorasan, decided that Iran was no longer safe for Zoroastrians and their religion,[57] and decided to emigrate to India. They traveled to the island of Hormazd in the Persian Gulf, and after three years’ preparation set sail for India.

    • Frau Katze

      They call them Parsis in India. A very successful group.

      • Tata is one of the businesses they own.

  • dukestreet

    I used to have my hair cut by a Zoroastrian who would tell me about all the festivals. A lot of them seemed to involve fire in one way or another, but this one,i remember her celebrating in the local parking lot.

  • In a police state, one has to defy the oppressors in any way he/she can. I remember How bad Basijis or morality police were beaten by the people on this day every year. It was fun seeing them bloodied.