Chaharshanbe Suri: A Festive Celebration of Fire and Cleansing
Chaharshanbe Suri; read about our festival here
Chaharshanbe Suri, also known as the Festival of Fire, is an ancient Iranian tradition that is celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz, the Iranian New Year.
In 2023, Chaharshanbe Suri will take place on March 14 during the evening.
This festival is a joyous occasion that involves lighting bonfires and jumping over them to ward off evil spirits and welcome a new year of happiness, health, and prosperity.
In this article, we will explore the history and significance of Chaharshanbe Suri, as well as the various rituals and customs associated with this festive holiday.
The History and Significance of Chaharshanbe Suri
Chaharshanbe Suri has its roots in Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Iran. The festival is believed to have originated over 2,500 years ago, during the Achaemenid era, and has been celebrated ever since. The festival is celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz, which falls on the spring equinox, and marks the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring.
The name Charshanbeh Suri literally means “Red Wednesday” or “Wednesday Celebration” in Persian. The festival is called so because it is celebrated on a Wednesday, which is the fourth day of the week in the Iranian calendar.
The festival is also known as the Festival of Fire because of the importance of fire in Zoroastrianism, where it symbolizes purity and light.
The Rituals and Customs of Chaharshanbe Suri
On the night of the festival, families and friends gather around bonfires that are lit in the streets and public places. They dance, sing, and eat traditional foods like ash-e reshteh, a hearty soup made with beans, vegetables, and noodles.
In some parts of Iran, including some Tehran neighbourhoods, people go to the streets banging on pots and pans! While banging pots and pans is not a widespread ritual of Chaharshanbe Suri, it still has its proponents of mothers and grandmothers sitting watching their families jump over the fire.
The most important ritual of Charshanbeh Suri is jumping over the bonfire. This is done to ward off evil spirits and bad luck, and to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. People of all ages, from children to the elderly, participate in this ritual, which is accompanied by cheers and applause from the onlookers.
Another important ritual of Chaharshanbe Suri is the tradition of “giving away” one’s misfortunes and sins to the fire. This is done by throwing small torches made of wheat or cotton into the fire, and saying a prayer to God to forgive one’s sins and bring happiness and prosperity in the new year.
Today the occasion is accompanied by large volume of fireworks across the country while others dance to the loud music played in different locations. There is no religious significance attached to it anymore and is has become a secular festival for all Iranians of different religions.
Chaharshanbe Suri is a festive and joyous celebration that brings together families, friends, and communities in Iran.
It is a time of cleansing, renewal, and hope, as people welcome the new year with open hearts and minds. The festival is a reminder of the ancient traditions and values of Iran, and the importance of preserving them for future generations. Whether you are Iranian or not, Chaharshanbe Suri is a celebration that can be enjoyed and appreciated by all.