Greetings every one! I am back in time to celebrate the Persian sizdahbedar سیزده بدر with you. For those of you who are new to Persian cultural practices, sizdahbedar which literally means “the thirteen out,” refers to the the 13th day of farvardin فرودین , the first month on the Iranian calendar. The expression could be interpreted as ” let us throw away any bad omen associated with the 13th day of the month” or simply “let us get out and celebrate on the 13th day!” Or, perhaps a bit of both. On this day, finally, the new year celebrations end with a huge picnic. Family and friends get together and picnic in gardens, parks, and any green and open space they find. One of the goals is returning the wheat sabzeh grown on a plate for the haft-seen back to nature:
But of course, the main part of the day is the celebration and festivity with family and friends:
One popular practice during the sizdahbehar picnic is tying two blades of grass into a knot and making a wish! It isn’t that people think that knot changes their lives; rather it is a fun and symbolic way to tie their wishes and aspirations with that of the freshly growing grass, the messenger of the spring. Like the ritual of jumping over fire on the last Wednesday of the year, chaharshanbe suri چهارشنبه سوری , which is part of the Nowruz and therefore disliked by the current Iranian government as a pre-Islamic practice, sizdahbehar is frowned upon too. Here is how one cartoonist used the symbol to express his / her opposition to the policing of the regime on this matter:
Iran in Bloom!
Countries that earn the title of “bad guys” are usually presented in the popular media as barren, poor, not-well-cared-for, fighting a harsh environment, and constantly dealing with tragedy. Beautiful panoramas or images of happy smiling people from such countries are hardly available to the American general public. As a result, it is easier to imagine the residents of such countries as unreliable, irrational, and ready to spring into violence. So here, together with the awesome picture (below) from the arrival of spring in the city of Larijan in the province of Gilan in Northern Iran, I gift you a photo-essay that relates the story of Iran in bloom . For the rest of the pictures, you can visit here.
Spread Ronnie’s Message of Peace
In my last post, I told you about about Ronnie Edri and his wife Michal Tamir, the Israeli designer couple who designed a logo with a message of peace and love to Iranians. Hundreds of thousands of people have already watched Ronnie’s message on the internet and many Iranians have responded to it already. Here is Ronnie himself on the subject. Do please help get his courageous message of peace and sanity out to more viewers:
And here is one out of numerous responses from Iranians (many of whom as you will see have covered a part of their face to remain anonymous to the Iranian authorities).
The Politicians Don’t Stop!
And yet the politicians on all sides continue with their inflammatory messages and the media keeps the war-talk going. A piece in The New York Times focuses on the concern of the American intelligence community that hasty military action could take place based on unreliable information. Well, in my opinion, they should be concerned! It is hard to believe that some opinion pieces make it sound as if this caution is misplaced, that it is due to timidity, or a sense of guilt about Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved if we had not mistaken bread factories for nuclear sites. See the article here:
If we are to avoid another war and hitting bread factories instead of nuclear sites, or if we are to prevent Iranian children from following the fate of Iraqi children, half a million of whom died as a result of food and medication shortages caused by sanctions during the nineties, diplomacy should be given a serious chance. Please don’t forget that massive sanctions are weapons of mass destruction. I already know of one such case: a first cousin of mine who is desperately searching for a medical supply for a surgery she has to have done every few years. I don’t know how life threatening the situation is at this point, but I know she is in great discomfort. For further thoughts and discussion on this and related topics, I have an excellent essay for you by Trita Parsi, author of A Single Role of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran. The essay is called “Five tips for President Obama on nuclear negotiations with Iran.” Trita’s suggestions include broadening the discussion beyond the nuclear issues, and not allowing American domestic politics to direct the exchanges. You can read the full piece here.
Time for Music…
Time to turn from politics, war, and sanctions, to a happier topic. I usually close these windows with visual delights such as painting or calligraphy from Iran. Let us turn to music this time. Just before Nowruz, an Iranian master setar player and composer Jalal Zolfonun died at the age seventy-five. I had heard him in concert about ten years ago. He was quite amazing. Here is a short clip of master Zolfonun playing
Setar is one of the oldest string instruments used in Persian classical music. Fortunately, young Iranians take a lot of interest in learning how to play it. Bear in mind that while Persian traditional music follows some tight rules, the player has plenty of room to display his or her originality by bending those rules in improvisation. Below, I have taken a delightful moment from a concert in Iran where a young Iranian woman musician named Sepideh Meshki shares the stage with her master Mohammad Reza Lotfi and many other Iranian women musicians. I have enjoyed this piece tremendously. I hope you do too:
Have a great week,