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Yalda, Persian’s Most Beautiful Song in Praise of Light and Love – 2017

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For thousands of years, Iranians have celebrated the last night of winter.  They have stayed up through the evening, waiting for the dawn, to witness the birth of the Sun; the source of life which has also been named “Mehr”.

Praising the sun, on the night of the birth of Mithra, celebrating around a cedar tree, adorned with colorful fabrics and stones, which was one of the most important rituals of the ancient Persians. At the time, there were still mysteries of the sun and moon and other natural phenomena for human exploration, and the Persians, like many other people had self-made gods who ruled over all the elements of nature. Man therefore, escaping sadness, darkness, cold, and pain (whether physical or emotional) took refuge in the gods.

Discovering the secrets of nature, and the transition from the myths of the gods did not hurt people’s relationship with the natural elements. Because Persian culture, and even religious orders of Zoroaster (the Persian prophet), were based on love and respect for the land, water, trees, rivers, mountains and their preservation was considered good will.

However, most of our habits and traditions could be updated and modified with time as well as people’s desire and wishes. Therefore, praising the sun, light, love, and life has become a part of Iranian psyche and beliefs in spite of all the objections that historically, under the pretext of religion, has considered these Persian celebrations as blasphemy.

Unfortunately, in the past thirty-four years of clerical rule in Iran, they have not accepted these celebrations. They not only do not accept these traditional festivities as part of national celebration, they are not willing to report and request UNESCO for addition to World Heritage list. The government has simply tried to force innocent people to stop holding these celebrations.

As Persian/Iranian celebrations and festivities have risen from nature and the land, with kindness and love, engraved with anti-discrimination, and interest of/for all people, irrespective of their religion, belief and opinion.

“Yalda” is one such festivity which continues to be even now more than ever, at the center of interest of Iranian people because history has shown that during dark times people have shown interest with the hope and belief that victory can be sealed and reach the world community to end all wars, suffering, discrimination and denial.

This year like many previous years, Pasargad Heritage Foundation, has asked the Iranian public to celebrate the tradition of Yalda by decorating and adorning an evergreen cedar tree and celebrate this glorious Persian feast more and more beautifully and grandly and  welcome the everlasting sun of our land in order to conqueror all perpetual darkness.

Let us not forget that the festive night of Winter Solstice, “Yalda,” is one of the few festivals compatible with the tenants of human rights, with this message that “only expressions of joy and love are symbols of light in human life”.

The Priceless Heritage of Cyrus the Great for Iranian People

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Statement of Pasargad Heritage Foundation on Cyrus Day, Oct. 29, 2017.

For the fifteenth year we are approaching the Cyrus Day on October 29th which is the anniversary of the day when Cyrus the Great announced his Declaration of Human Rights on a clay cylinder. The occasion is celebrated by many people in and outside Iran. After many centuries, the Iranians have come to recognize the unique values of a great historical personality belonging to their motherland. They gather at his tomb and adjacent city and give tribute to his name and memory. These activities highlight the importance of this event and Cyrus Day. It is an important event which reflects the natural inclination of Iranian people in celebrating this day.

The reason behind this vast attention to Cyrus and his declaration is twofold. On one hand it is due to the elevation of peoples’ understanding of human rights in this age of information and, on the other, it is a reaction towards the harsh and difficult situation, created and imposed on them by the Islamic Republic.
Today in the 21st century and information age, human beings cannot (and should not) live under oppression and inhumane conditions. Humanity has survived centuries of bitter experiences and has been able to create a world that, though still full of pain and misery, is enlightened by that brilliantly crafted document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, Iranians are today deprived of these very rights and, at the same time, have come to know that their ancient leader of 2550 years ago was the one who initiated the understanding of such rights. They compare the backward laws of Islamic Republic of Iran with Cyrus’ Declaration and their hearts are full of sorrow. Confronting the differences between the two sets of laws, makes them appreciate what Cyrus had done for his time.

Cyrus appears to be the first man in history who thought of his peoples’ rights, their freedom of religion and opinion, while negating slavery, releasing slaves and focusing on the well-being of his people. These facts cannot be ignored and these rights of Iranians should today be considered as part of their cultural heritage.
Iranians are cognizant that Cyrus was neither a prophet nor a saint. He did not walk on water, could not resuscitate the dead and was unable to cause splitting of the moon. Nevertheless, by giving the people the right to choose their own religion, and therefore their destiny, he led the way in creating a nation of free decision makers. Thus, paying homage to him, especially in a time when his children are deprived of their basic rights, becomes ever more significant and timely.

Pasargad Heritage Foundation, the entity that first suggested the observance of Cyrus Day, 15 years ago, invites all Iranians and Iran-lovers to pay their tributes to Cyrus wherever they are and celebrate his day with more glory and splendor than ever before. They are invited to contemplate the role Cyrus played in the history of humanity by bestowing the human race a declaration that could bring them happiness, peacefulness, and tolerance.

With love and best wishes for everyone.

Shokooh Mirzadegi
Pasargad Heritage Foundation
www.savepasargad.com

 

Mehregan, The festivity of love, light and fidelity

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Mehrgan is one of the greatest and most ancient national festivities of Iranian people, observed on October 7, to denote the beginning of autumn. It is an occasion to celebrate love, light and fidelity and Iranians have observed it for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, by the advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, all secular and popular festivities were banned and they were not allowed to be observed in public places. Nevertheless, and as far as it is possible, Iranians celebrate the occasion, far more expanded than the pre-revolution times. Outside Iran, millions of Iranians observe it vastly with enthusiasm and perseverance.

In 2010, the Pasargad Heritage Foundation (PHF), an NGO registered in USA, working for preservation of tangible and intangible heritage of Iran, applied to UNESCO for the registration of Mehrgan as a festivity with its roots in the soil of human regards for nature and mankind’s happiness.

This was a symbolic gesture because UNESCO only accepts those applications in this regard that are made by the governments. Thus, PHF has done so with the hope that in the future the road for Mehregan registration by UNESCO is paved and the bureaucratic procedures are facilitated.

Happy Tirgan Festival (July 4th)

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Tirgan is a major Iranian festival with a history that spans thousands of years. It is held on the 13th day of the month of Tir in the Iranian calendar (equivalent to the 4th of July). In ancient times, it was a ritual to celebrate Tishter, the goddess of rain. In Iranian mythology, it signifies the day when Arash, a national hero, acted to end the long wars between Iran and Turan and to settle a border that was acceptable to both countries. The two parties decided that Arash should ascend to the summit of Mount Damavand and shoot an arrow; wherever the arrow landed was to be the border between the two countries. Arash put all his strength into the arrow and, by sacrificing his life, broadened the Iranian border, giving peace and tranquility to his countrymen. It is interesting to note that his bow and arrow were presented to him by the Goddess Sapandarmazgan, the guardian of productivity and vitality. The myth clearly presents the Iranian love for peace and preservation of the environment. For thousands of years, Iranians have celebrated the occasion with happy festivities and games, instead of mourning for the hero. One tradition for youngsters is to throw water at each other, washing away the pain and sorrow brought to human life by Ahriman.

International Mother Earth Day April 22

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International Mother Earth Day was established in 2009, by the General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278. The Resolution was introduced by The Plurinational State of Bolivia and endorsed by over 50 member states. It recognizes that “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home” and that “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth.” The term Mother Earth is used because it “reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit”. It is decided to designate April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

International Mother Earth Day is celebrated to remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance.

Celebrating World Heritage Day on April 18th

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On 18 April 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organised by ICOMOS in Tunisia, the holding of the “International Day for Monuments and Sites” to be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who provided practical suggestions to the National Committees on how to organise this day.

The idea was also approved by the UNESCO General Conference who passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983 recommending that Member States examine the possibility of declaring 18 April each year “International Monuments and Sites Day”. This has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day.

ICOMOS, the International Council for Monuments and Sites makes a number of suggestions on how to celebrate the World Heritage Day:

  • Visits to monuments and sites, and restoration works, possibly with free admission
  • Articles in newspapers and magazines, as well as television and radio broadcasts
  • Hanging banners in town squares or principal traffic arteries calling attention to the day and the preservation of cultural heritage
  • Inviting local and foreign experts and personalities for conferences and interviews
  • Organising discussions in cultural-centres, city halls, and other public spaces
  • Exhibitions (photos, paintings, etc)
  • Publication of books, post-cards, stamps, posters
  • Awarding prizes to organisations or persons who have made an outstanding contribution to the conservation and promotion of cultural heritage or produced an excellent publication on the subject.
  • Inaugurate a recently restored monument
  • Special awareness raising activities amongst school children and youth
  • Promotion of “twinning” opportunities between organizations, defining areas for co-operation; exchange of speakers; organisation of meetings and seminars, or the editing of joint publications.

The personality of the year 1396/2017 in the field of “Cultural and Historical Heritage”

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Dr. Youssef Madjidzadeh, an archaeologist, researcher, professor of archeology and art history at several Iranian universities, member of the scientific council of the Journal of archeology and history of “Markaze Nashre Daneshahi”, is selected as the personality of the year 1395, in the field of “Cultural and Historical Heritage”, for:
– His tireless and life-long efforts in preservation of historical and cultural heritage of Iran
– Teaching archeology and art history to many generations of Iranian students
– Directing the excavations in Qazvin Plain and Tepe Qabristan excavations,
– Directing the excavations at Prehistoric Site of Uzbaki in the County of Savojbolagh of Tehran Province.
– Directing the excavations at the Prehistoric Site of Konar sandal in the city of Jiroft in the Kerman province.
– And all of his invaluable research on Iranian history and culture.
Dr. Majidzadeh received his training in pre-historic Mesopotamian archeology from the Oriental Institute of Chicago University and directed research and extensive excavations in Qazvin, Tehran and especially in Kerman. His contribution to the history of Iran is unrivaled. The excavation in Jiroft under his supervision proved that Iran was one of the first cradles of civilization, with urban life and government circa 5000 BC, i.e., long before the pre- Achaemenid period. In addition to his influential role in shedding light to forgotten period of Iranian history, Dr. Majidzadeh’s is a popular figure due to his social life and demeanor. His students, his colleagues and the local people of areas where his excavations have taken place, all believe that he has a humble, esteemed and lovable character and personality.

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Biography of Dr. Youssef Madjidzadeh
Dr. Youssef Madjidzadeh was born in the year 1315 (1936)in Tabriz, and finished his undergraduate education in Tehran. In 1341(1962), he graduated with the degree of B.A. from Tehran University in the field of archeology as the top student. Upon receiving a scholarship he continued with his studies in the field of Near Eastern archeology specializing in prehistoric archeology of Mesopotamia and Iran in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the United States starting in 1344 and graduated with the degree of Ph.D. in 1976 (1355). He started working at Tehran University as assistant professor in the Department of Archaeology and History of Art at the Faculty of Literature and Humanities in 1350 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1356 (1977). Dr. Madjudzadeh was later elected as the chairman of the Department of Archaeology and History of Art and the director of the Institute of Archaeology at Tehran University. He was also appointed a member of the Council of appointments and promotions of the Faculty of Tehran University during the earlier months of Islamic Revolution for 3 years before he retired in 1367 (1988).
Scientific activities outside the university:
Member of the Scientific Council of the Journal of archeology and history of Markaze Nashre Daneshahi since 1366
Archaeological excavations at Tepe Chogha Mish in the province of Khuzisgtan for three seasons.
Participation in the excavations of Qazvin Plain and the director of Tepe Qabristan for eight seasons.
General Director of the Excavations in Qazvin Plain and the director of the Tepe Qabristan excavations for two seasons.
Director of excavations at Prehistoric Site of Uzbaki in the County of Savojbolagh of Tehran Province from 1377 (1998) to 1381 (2002).
Director of excavations at the Prehistoric Site of Konar sandal in the city of Jiroft in the Kerman province from 1381 (2002) to 1387 (2008).

The list of international technical and scientific publications in English
1. “The Land of Aratta”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies35, No. 2 (1976).
2. “Correction of the Internal Cronology for the Sialk III Period on the Basis of the Pottery Sequence at Tepe Ghabristan”,Iran 16 (1978).
3. “The Development of Pottery Kiln in Iran from Prehistoric to HistoricalPoeriod”,Paleorient 3 (1955-77).
4. “An Early Prehistoric CoppersmithWorkshop at Tepe Ghabristan”,Aktendes VII Internationalen Kongress für Iranische Kunst und Archaologie, 1979.
5. “Sialk III and the Pottery Sequence at Tepe Ghabristan: The Coherence of the Cultures of the Central Plateau of Iran”,Iran19 (1981).
6. “Lapis Lazuli and the Great Khorasan Road”,Paleorient8/1 (1982).  
7. “An Early Industrial Proto-Urban Center On the Central Iranian Plateau:Tepe Ghabristan”, A. Leonard Jr. and B. B. Williams (eds.),Essays in Ancient Civilization Presented to Helene J. Kantor, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago(Studies in Ancient Civilization, No. 47) ,Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1989.
 8. “The Arjan Bowl”,Iran30 (1992)
9. “The Oldest Narrative Pictorial Phrase on a Pottery Vessel from Tappeh Qabristan”, Iranian World, Essays on Iranian Art and Archaeology, Presented to Ezat O. Negahban, eds. A. Alizadeh, Y. Majidzadeh, S. Malek Shahmirzadi, Iran University Press, 1999.
10. “A Sumerian Statue from Khark Island on the Persian Gulf,” in N.F. Miller and K. Abdi, eds., Yeki bud, yeki nabud: Essays on the Archaeology of Iran in Honor of William M. Sumner, Los Angeles, 2003, pp. 152-55.
11. “Les fouilles d’Ozbaki (Iran). Campagnes 1998-2000,”  Paléorient  27/ 1, 2001, pp. 141-145.
12. “Au berceau de la cvilisation Oriéntale,” Archéologia 399, Avril 2003, pp. 36-45.
13. “Un litige à propos d’un achat du Louvre,” Archéologia 405, Novembre 2003, pp. 4-6.
14. “La première campagne de fouilles à Jiroft dans le bassin du Halil Roud (janvier et février 2003),” Jiroft fabuleuse découverte en Iran Dossiers d’Archéologie 287, octobre 2003,  pp. 64-75.
15. Jiroft, the Earliest Oriental Civilization. Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization, Tehran 2003.
16. “La découverte de Jiroft,”  Jiroft fabuleuse découverte en Iran Dossiers d’Archéologie, n° 287, octobre 2003,  pp. 18-63.
17. “L’ ancêtre des ziggourats à Jiroft,” Archéologia 413, Juillet-Août 2004, pp. 14-25.
with Jean Perrot
18. “Découvertes récentes à Jiroft (sud du plateau iranien),”  Académie des Inscription et Belles-lettres, Comptes Rendus des séances de l’année 2003 (juillet octobre), Paris 2003.
19. “Récentes découvertes à Jiroft (Iran): résultats de la campagne de fouilles excavation 2004,” Académie des Inscription et Belles-lettres, Comptes Rendus des séances de l’année 2004 (juillet octobre), Paris 2004.
20. “L’iconographie des vases et objets en chlorite de Jiroft,” Paléorient 31/2, 2005, pp. 123-152.
21. “À travers l’ornementation des vases et objets en chlorite de Jiroft,” Paléorient 32/1, 2006, pp. 99-112.
The list of publications in English language published in the Journal of Archaeology of Tehran University
1. “The Excavations in Tepe Ghabristan, The First Two Seasons, 1970-71”,Marlik2 (1977).
2. “The Oldest Pictorial Phrase on the Pottery from Tepe Ghabristan”,Surveyand Excavation3(1979).
3. “A Sumerian Fragmentary Statue from Khark,” in Iranian Journal of Archaeology and History, vol. 11, nos. 1-2 (Autumn-Winter 1996 and Spring-Summer 1997, Nos. 21-22), August 1998, p. 2 (in English), pp. 14 (in Farsi), 23 figs.

The personality of the year 1396/2017 for “Preservation of Environment and Natural Heritage”

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Dr. Hossein Sedghi, a hydrologist, geologist, and university professor is selected as the personality of the year 1389, in the field of “Natural Heritage and Environment” for:
– His invaluable efforts in expanding education and awareness of the environmental and natural heritage amongst the people in Iran.
– Training experts in the environmental fields
– Publishing many articles and papers and participating in interviews relevant to the natural heritage.
– Giving timely warnings and notice of changes related to the preservation of Iranian heritage and environment to the authorities and activists.

In the current critical and ever worsening conditions of natural and environmental heritage of Iran, and while most of the activists are either completely absorbed by the governmental agencies or have chosen to be silent, Dr. Hossein Sedghi is one of the rare activist in the field who has continued his activities in both informing the public and also the authorities regarding the damages that are being inflicted to the Iranian heritage. With the courage and honesty that is expected from a distinguished expert, and with keen and educated observation, Dr. Sedghi has warned and explained about the catastrophic conditions that have developed in Uromieh, Khuzestan and many other parts of Iran.

Happy Nowruz – March 20, 2017

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Nowruz is first day of Spring and the beginning of the Iranian year.  Nowruz is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox, on 20th March or the previous / following day depending on where it is celebrated.  Nowruz is celebrated and observed by Iranian people as well as several other countries across Asia including Afghanistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan and many more.   The new year starts at the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day or exactly when the Earth has completed one cycle around the Sun.

The celebration has its roots in Ancient Iran. Due to its antiquity, there exist various foundation myths for Nowruz in Iranian mythology.  The Shahnameh dates Nowruz as far back to the reign of Jamshid, who in Zoroastrian texts saved mankind from a killer winter that was destined to kill every living creature.  In the Shahnameh and Iranian mythology, Jamshid is credited with the foundation of Nowruz.  In the Shahnama,  Jamshid constructed a throne studded with gems. He had demons raise him above the earth into the heavens; there he sat on his throne like the sun shining in the sky. The world’s creatures gathered in wonder about him and scattered jewels around him, and called this day the New Day or Now-Ruz. This was the first day of the month of Farvardin (the first month of the Persian calendar).   On Nowruz, families gather together to observe the rituals and celebrate the beginning of the new year.

In addition, it is believed that originally the celebration was the holiest Zoroastrian festival, and Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin.  Since the Achaemenid era, the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox.

International Nowruz Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/64/253 of 2010, at the initiative of several countries that share this holiday (Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

 

Music for Omar Khayyam

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In this YouTube video,  you can listen to Serenad Bağcan singing poetry of Omar Khayyam translated into Turkish with the music composed by Fazil Say.fazil and Serenad Bağcan

Music for Omar Khayyam
Poetry: Omar Khayyam
Composer: Fazil Say
Vocal: Serenad Bağcan