Exclusive: Why and how ' Festival of Fire ' in Iran became a show of protest

3/12/2018 7:47:17 AM

Charshanbeh Soori is the ancient Iranian festival dating at least back to 1,700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era

Charshanbeh Soori is the ancient Iranian festival dating at least back to 1,700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era

Iran, March 12, 2018 - Every year with the coming of March, a passion will prevail the Iranian society, part of which is due to ending a year and preparing to enter a new year, whereas the other part is the joy of “Festival of Fire “ and the Norouz ( Iranian New Year ) and other New Year’s traditions.
Before the 1979 revolution, this passion and enthusiasm did not have political nature and often allocated to children and teenagers. Other ages were looking for vacation and a situation to get some rest and refection. However, after the big change of the 1979 revolution, and the subsequent ominous stealing of its leadership by Khomeini, the national traditions faded out for a few years and later were banned during the Iran-Iraq war that was provoked by the regime. This era continued until the end of this filthy war in 1988 and even a few years after.


“Festival of Fire” (Chahar-Shanbeh Suri), a revived tradition


With the beginning of the nineties and distancing away from the Iran-Iraq war and its disasters, the crushed Iranian society gradually found itself back again, when the survivors of the 1988 brutal massacre rose again with firm determination to struggle against the religious fascism. The forgotten traditions found themselves first in the minds of the people and then at every corner across the country.  Norouz (New Year) celebration, Festival of Fire (Chahar-Shanbeh Suri), Sizdah-Bedar, Sadeh celebration, and Mehregan were among these traditions. But compared to all others, even Norouz and Sizdah-Bedar, “Festival of Fire” found a special and unique place in the Iranian society and became quickly a national struggle tradition of the people, particularly the youth, against the religious fascism ruling Iran.  


How did the “Festival of Fire” become a tradition of struggle?


Why and how did that happen? How a several thousand year old tradition became an opportunity to challenge a dictator?  Among all the traditions that Iranians had, it was only “Festival of Fire” that became a tradition and an opportunity to fight against dictatorship. It, undoubtedly, was due to the nature of this festival and the factor at the core of this tradition: FIRE! The only thing that terrifies the dictator and makes him think twice is fire. Other traditions did not have any such a nature. 'Fire' was the main feature of the “Festival of Fire”.


When did “Festival of Fire” find such a role in the Iranian society?


With a glimpse at the state-run newspapers, you will not find any issue about “Festival of Fire” and the problems it had caused for the government up until late 80’s. It was in early 90’s that “Festival of Fire”, became a ceremony when the youth could show their opposition to the regime’s suppression.
In the next steps, the youths’ defiance, which was just in the form of open joy in the streets, evolved from a passive move to an active opposition to dictatorship and a means to confront the suppressive forces, especially the IRGC.
A glance at PMOI’s calls for holding “Festival of Fire”
Every year the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) have always encouraged the youth inside the country to celebrate the festival of fire by issuing calls in advance. The essence of all these calls have been almost the same: Rising and protesting against the dictatorship.