In Iran, the ruling mullahs are dreading Iranians' coming beloved fire festival
In Iran, the tradition of "Charshanbe Soori" is the festival of fire, which occurs every year on the night before the last Wednesday of the Iranian calendar year. During this festival, which dates back to the 7th century, Iranians traditionally celebrate by lighting bonfires and jumping through the flames.
In this ancient custom, they sing: "Sorkhie to az man, zardie man az to," which means: "I give my ill to the fire and receive the redness and warmth from fire."
This ancient Persian "Festival of Fire," with its historic and ceremonial roots, is one of the most beloved celebrations among the Iranian people.
This year, Iranians will hold the fire festival on March 19, 2019. It always begins at the sunset of the last Wednesday of the Persian year. It will begin that way this year, too.
For Iranians in recent times, it has become an occasion to air their grievances against the leaders of the regime.
In recent years, Iran's security forces have been cracking down on celebration early to discourage it — up to two months before it begins, actually, by banning firecrackers, sparklers, and even gatherings of families and neighbors in streets.
In this fire festival, ordinary Iranians pile tinder from bushes and pieces of wood in public places such as streets, alleys, and squares and then set them alight. People gather around the bonfires and jump over them with shouting. The intention is to hope for enlightenment and happiness throughout the coming year. But it's not only that. What's problematic for Iran's detested rulers is that, with the help of fire, the people also recall tribulations. The fire is conducive to meditative thinking. These include the long battle against dictatorship and the ignorance of reactionary forces throughout their history. For Iranians today, this especially includes the 40-year dark era of the ruling mullahs in Iran, from 1979 until now. By the light of the fire, Iranians think about the reality of their situation and, for many, the need to end the regime.
The fire festival also has other customs. Spring housecleaning is carried out to welcome the new year. This year, many people hope the whole country will wipe out the regime for a complete cleaning.
So with the fire festival, it is not uncommon for Iranians to think of ending the repression, torture, executions, and human rights abuses that have taken over their country and contemplate how the arrival of spring, as the New Year begins (on March 20, 2019) and brings hope for ending this regime forever.
In response to the festival this year, the mullahs and their security forces have put bans in place on fireworks, letting businesses know they can lose their licenses to do business. These economic threats are meant to discourage people from buying fireworks to celebrate the festival. Additionally, checkpoints are being put in place, and the security forces are making it uncomfortable for individuals to gather to celebrate.
The MEK (the Farsi initials for the democracy-promoting People's Mojahedin of Iran) inside Iran have called for mobilization by the Iranian people together with the "resistance units" during the celebration, marking the festival as an annual anti-regime event. They have made this fire festivity a platform for the uprising and to welcome new year.
Statements issued by the prosecutors general and revolutionary prosecutors of various provinces and cities throughout Iran indicate that they are preparing for an influx of arrests. It's so extreme that in many instances, they have declared the creation of a separate branch to deal with violations and possible crimes related to the fire festival.
I am not projecting as I describe the Iranian festival this way: during the past decades, the fire festival in cities across Iran became the scene of protests and expressions of outrage against the regime. Last year, the sound of exploding grenades and firecrackers was heard constantly in many cities, following the explosion of firecrackers by angry young Iranians. In this case, the regime's agents blacked out a whole town where it happened, and the attack of security forces on people turned to confrontation. Then clashes broke out between the youths and regime's mercenaries, who tried to disperse them.
But this year, the fire festival will be very different from that of last year, especially after protests that rocked Iran during the past 16 months. The regime is even more fearful of the fire festival this year and has issued harassing directives in the public media to deter the people from holding the customary annual celebration.
The mullahs not only fear more of the ongoing protests by Iranians throughout the country, but fear new calls for a nationwide uprising to mark this particular celebration by the resistance units. Senior Iranian officials have also acknowledged the resistance units as the organizer of the recent flare-up of protests across the country. The upcoming fire festival and the calls for protest make the situation more crucial for the regime and its suppression forces.
With the coming heated fire festival, the people in Iran have this message for the regime: "Fire is the symbol of our long battle against dictatorship, we are all altogether, and repression will not affect us."
Imagine the fear of mullahs!
Image credit: WSJ YouTube screen grab.