The Supreme Leader on Sunday called for Iranians to shun Chaharshanbeh Souri, deeming it “void of religious roots and cause of great harm and corruption.” Chaharshanbeh Souri takes place on the eve of the last Wednesday of the year (tomorrow night), preceding Norooz and Saleh Tahveel (the Spring Equinox marking the New Year). More from Radio Zamaneh via Payvand News:
This fire festival… is an ancient Iranian pagan festival which involves the building of bonfires and symbolic gestures and chants that summon the fire to burn all sickness and lend its energy to a healthy new year.
A number of Shiite clerics have described the event “superstitious” and called for its dismantlement.
Iranian opposition forces have announced that they will take part in the events of the last Wednesday Eve of the year, which falls on March 16, and use it as an opportunity to reaffirm their protests against the current government which they claim has come to power through election fraud last June.
And from AFP via Yahoo! News:
Iranians celebrate the fire festival by lighting bonfires in public places on the night before the last Wednesday and leaping over the flames shouting “Sorkhiye to az man, Zardiye man az to (Give me your redness and I will give you my paleness).”
Some clerics see the ritual as heretical fire worshipping, although it has been marked in Iran for centuries and, like the Persian New Year itself and some other ancient rituals, has survived the advent of Islam.
For thousands of years Iranians have celebrated these holidays through thick and thin. No matter what culture or religion was thrust upon them by foreign invaders, they maintained their New Year festivals. Even those in the Diaspora have continued the celebrations abroad.
They’re not going to stop now.