Ramazan is a lunar and Islamic month; since the Iranian people were amongst the First Nations to accept this religion, the Ramazan tradition has been going on between them for 1400 years. Iranians consider this month as the month of God’s feast in which the doors of mercy open up and the demons are harnessed. This month, is the month of kindness, mercy and self-construction and has been officially registered as an Iranian spiritual legacy.
People get prepared a while before; since the Rajab month which is considered the beginning of blessing times, and the first Friday of this month is known to be the night of desires. People welcome the Ramazan arrival three days before, with prayers and they continue to pray and fast with the hope their prayers are accepted during the entire month.
There are teams in order to detect the new moon and declare it. It’s also investigated to be proven by official religious bodies to decide the declaration of Ramazan. Since days and night hours are altered with different seasons in Iran, and the weather varies a lot, the prayers and food alters accordingly. However in this write-up we discuss the permanent traditions, regardless the cultural and geographical differences of Iranian people.
People start to schedule for cleaning, shopping, and having guests over from the very first night. Offices, both private and government relatives, acquaintances and neighbors will have the feast together, almost every night. In this case they get prepared for the dawn meal –called Sahari- from the night before, starting with boiled water and sugarplums. The Sahari meal is usually modest, and prayers are done before.
The government media plans for the entire month; they broadcast programs about prayers and religious speeches. Experts speak about the benefits of fasting and health care in this month. Entertainments, sports, scientific, cultural and all different programs of national media is under the impression of Ramazan atmosphere.
The Call to prayer is declared through both radio and TV and the way of living is influenced drastically in different seasons, due to the change in The Call to prayers time. In many cases the labor work changes for example. During this month people preferably maintain ethical and moral code , behave in what they say, listen to or watch, do charity work and be kind to one another.
There are special desserts and cookies for the evening feast. Date, pottage and pastries are popular snacks. The evening feasts are deliberately prepared, distillate drinks, vegetables and salad are served with the main course. The evening broadcasting have obvious impact of Ramazan. Special prayers are broadcasted people gather to say their prayers together at the same time. After that, they have their evening feast and watch special TV shows. Some mosques or individual people may prepare evening feasts for passengers in the streets.
During Ramazan, all food stores and restaurants are closed, and if open, they get legal warnings. People refrain from open eating. Mosques have special plans and all prayers are conducted in congregation.
People have season fruits and pastries after the evening feasts and watch TV programs.
During The mid ten days of Ramazan the birthday of the second Imam is also observed which is also called as the orphans’ day, the day marks and people distribute gifts among poor and orphans.
The Third week is different, from the 19th night, the nights are considered sacred and called Ghadr nights. Even though most people stay up all night for prayers the whole month, the 19th, 21th and 23th nights are considered to be most sacred and blessed nights. These nights are respected nights Imam-e-Ali got injured even departed from this world during this time. People also mourn Ali’s martyrdom during the nights. People visit mosques, pray for their destiny and sought blessings form Ali as he blessed his companions. Special Joshan Kabir prayers with reminding 1000 names of God are conducted.
People hold special gatherings to remember tales and stories about Imams. They put the Quran on their heads and pray for God’s mercy in the name of the 14 innocent. The Ghadr night is believed to be the night of angles’ descent and mankind’s evolution. Men and women take part in Ghadr congregation. The Shia does not consider 27th night as one of the Ghadr nights, as it’s a night in which Imam Ali’s killer has been murdered. As the Ghadr nights end, the celebration and TV shows restart.
Months every congregation, special prayers and obligations are followed by the Fitr celebration day which is also a national holiday, although normally there are two or three days unofficially as holidays. As the new crescent is declared to be seen, people kiss and congratulate each other and take gifts from the elders.
Relatives call the elders and pay each other visits. They usually gather in a relatives place to celebrate, have the welcome party serve pastries, drinks, tea and nuts. It’s an opportunity to catch up after a long time. People offer Fitr prayers in the morning later celebrate the day in proper religious manner.
Back in ancient times, they used to sing epic songs to declare the call to prayers. There was no device for communication, so music and drums a were played loudly in order to let people know the time for each prayers and the celebration. Each city has its own traditions nowadays. Northwest, the Armenian, the Arabs…
Kids play and celebrate in streets, people wear special clothes, different ways of congratulating, open doors of houses for people to come in and declare the celebration day. That’s why this celebration is known as Arab’s celebration amongst the Khozestan people. They –as Indians do- consider it the greatest celebration.
Women of Yazd (yazd city, centre of iran. )read the Quran entirely, and believe whoever gets to read the Tohid Sura, She will have a merciful year. In Kerman, they give gifts to those kids who have their first time of fasting. Kids under the lawful age do a half-time fast, which is only until noon instead of sunset. In the north, people have a special prayer and they help to set the prisoners free. Kids won’t have the evening feast until they get their presents. The Torkamans clean the mosques voluntarily and the elders invite people who are resented from each other over –while both sides are unaware- and make them make peace together.
In Lorestan, people send some of the feast food to the neighbors. In Shiraz, at the first Ramazan after the wedding, people prepare a great evening feast and send it to the bride with flowers. In Khash, people say the 20 parts of the prayers and read the Qoran till half past midnight.
Due to Media’s announcements and traveling, these traditions have become publically known and are performed in every part of the country. This month can be titled the month of Muslim’s unity.
Politicians hold an evening feast every night, which is covered by the press and each night is held for a special guilds. The Iranian president and Leader have long had these gatherings, like the one special to poets.
Ramazan, like any national-religious occasion, has a very important place in Iranians Culture and literature, and has always been significant to the writers and poets. For example: calligraphy and painting exhibitions under the Ramazan subject. The ending of this paper shall be a beautiful, meaningful poem from Hafez:
ثواب روزه و حج قبول آنکس برد
که خاک میکده عشق را زیارت کرد
مقام اصلی ما گوشه خرابات است
خداش خیر دهاد آنکه این عمارت کرد
He wins the blessing of fasting and Hajj,
Who visited the love’s wine house
Our main place is the corner of the ruins
God bless him, who built the ruin
Translator: Shadi Rastegari, M.S in Metallurgy Engineering, University of Khaje Nasir Toosi , Tehran
Author is PhD scholar in Communications and Journalism, University of Mysore