Pir-e Shaliar: ancient Iranian festival celebrating abundance, good fortune

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TEHRAN – Pir-e Shaliar is an ancient annual ceremony, celebrating abundance and good fortune since centuries ago in Uraman Takht rural district, Kordestan province, western Iran.

Pir-e Shaliar, a legendary folk figure for Iranian Kurds, is warmly remembered for his allegedly magical healing qualities and mojo that locals believe could populate the land with livestock and crops in times of trouble. The figure is associated with the pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian times.

This year, the festival was held on January 29 and 30 with hundreds of people from neighboring towns and villages in attendance. 

The festival usually starts before dawn with children distributing walnuts as gifts, knocking on the villagers’ doors and getting sweets from them in return.

Sheep and goats are slaughtered as the day breaks. Then several hours are spent for cooking a special soup called ‘Veloshin’; meanwhile people celebrate the event by blessings and prayers. The soup will be ultimately distributed amongst all villagers.

People come out from their terraced houses, which roof of one is courtyard of another, to witness the ritual. Daf, a local drum, is played and the dervishes of the region gather to chant and dance, while swaying their long hair through the air.

Prior to the night, men meet in the house of Pir-e Shaliar and continue their ritual of chanting prayers and playing the dafs to pay their ultimate tribute to the legendary figure of the region.

The legend says that Pir-e Shaliar magically cured ‘Shah-Bahar Khatoun’ the beloved daughter of king of Bukhara so that he was rewarded with getting married with the girl.

Uraman region is considered a cradle of Kurdish art and culture from the days of yore. Stretched on a steep slope of Sarvabad county, the village is home to dense and step-like rows of houses in a way that roof of each house forms the yard of the upper one, a feature that adds to its charm and attractiveness.

The name Kordestan refers to the region’s principal inhabitants. After the Turkish invasion of Iran in the 11th century CE (Seljuq period), the name Kurdistan was applied to the region comprising the northwestern Zagros Mountains. It was during the reign of ʿAbbas I the Great of Iran’s Ṣafavid dynasty (1501–1736) that the Kurds rose to prominence, having been enlisted by ʿAbbas I to help stem the attacks of the marauding Uzbeks from the east in the early 17th century.



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