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Celebrating Nowruz at World Cultural Heritage Sites

Posted on Mar, 31, 2014
Contributed to WCHV by WCHV

T.j-wchv-2During the last decade, Iranians have become gradually more aware of pre-Islamic period of their history despite the policy of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) tainting that period with obscurity and misleading messages. The result has been the renewed public interest in ancient intangible cultural heritage on the one hand, and a ever-increasing internal tourism and visitors to the ancient Persian sites.

One of the main occasions in this respect is the Iranian New Year, known as Nowruz (or the New Day) that begins at spring equinox. Over the past decade, the number of visitors to sites such as Pasargad and Perspolis has increased ten-fold. While the IRI cultural authorities have not been able to erase the physical reminiscences of the past due to the efforts of Iranians outside the country and the pressure of the international organizations, they have become more and more restrictive against such visits, especially during the Nowruz holidays.

This year the Pasargad site was totally closed to the hundreds of visitors who had come from many parts of the country. They had come to be present around the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great, when the equinox moment arrived and the Iranian New Year began

Cyrus the Great is now recognized as the father of Nation by many Iranians.

As the equinox was to arrive late at night this year, all the lights in the Pasargad area were switched off and the site was totally in darkness. From the early morning, the guards had walked amongst the visitors and had confiscated cameras. Nevertheless, people stayed right behind the fences, singing and chanting. In some instances, there were signs of anger but there was an overall mood of happiness and celebration in the gathering that was shaped in such a surreal setting.  In fact, it has been reported by many news outlets that many historical heritage sites had record number of visitors in the first few days of the New Year and Perspolis reportedly had the highest number of visitors. 

Persepolis which literary means the “City of Persians” was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire.  Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of city of Shiraz in the Fars Province in Iran.


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