Registration of four Iranian celebrations in the list of the intangible living heritage of the Silk Road
Four Iranian festivals of “Cheleh-Neshini and Yalda Night,” “Chaharshanbeh Soori,” “Mehregan,” and “Sedeh,” along with “Iranian folk music” were registered as an intangible living heritage of the Silk Road.
According to ISNA news, coinciding with Yalda celebration, on December 21 the public relations of the National Commission for UNESCO in Iran announced: “These celebrations were registered in the first world conference on intangible living heritage of the silk road, hosted by the International Information Center and Intangible Cultural Heritage Network in Asia and Oceania (an ICHCAP-UNESCO Grade 2 Institution) in South Korea and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) in Samarkand.”
The meeting was held following the resolution of the third meeting of the Silk Road Living Heritage Network Preparation Committee, with representatives from Silk Road countries, especially Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, as well as intangible heritage experts and researchers from universities of Asia/Pacific countries, on October 22 and 29, 2021, with scientific lectures and discussion around the silk road intangible heritage topic. The second meeting entitled “Review and approval of celebrations” was held on December 10, 2021.
In the first session researchers in the field of intangible heritage, including Dr. Elizabeth Black, a professor at Shahid Beheshti University, and Dr. Huo Li, a professor at Hanjiang University in South Korea, highlighted the importance of celebrations as part of the most important silk road heritage, based on UNESCO intangible heritage convention (2003 convention). Each of the representatives of the countries, by presenting generalities of cultural, social capabilities, and status of the festivities, approved that live celebrations on the Silk Road be submitted for review and approval in the 2021 program. Other cultural and intangible heritage components will be reviewed and introduced in the following years.
In these two meetings, Dr. Hassan Bastani Rad, Representative of the National Commission for UNESCO and National Liaison in the UNESCO Silk Road Program and Director of the Silk Road Research Center of Shahid Beheshti University, introduced Iranian celebrations and folkloric music of the different regions of Iran for approval in the first world conference on intangible living heritage of the silk road.
At the first meeting (October 28, 2021), Bastani Rad introduced the position and function of the Iranian solar calendar as the most accurate and one of the oldest in the world, which is still alive and is the national administrative and official calendar of Iran and some other countries like Afghanistan, and is also a cultural calendar of countries who celebrate Nowruz, Chaharshanbeh soori, and Yalda night.
He said: “Although many countries and cultures do not use the Iranian calendar as their official and national calendar, some of their national, public and important celebrations are Iranian, and according to the Iranian calendar. From among them 12 countries are official members of the Nowruz club, including countries like Mongolia in which Nowruz is celebrated by some tribes. These countries observe Nowruz and other Iranian celebrations according to the Iranian calendar.
These countries observe Nowruz and other Iranian holidays according to the Iranian calendar. Still, their official calendar is not the Iranian solar calendar, and administrative system, though this may not have emanated from their history and culture. But the Iranian chronology has a deeper connection with the culture of these countries.
Bastani Rad added: “When we talk about the festivities as the living heritage of the Silk Road, it is appropriate to accept that Iranian festivals, which were held regularly and seasonally and monthly and are still held in Iran and many different continents, have attributes such as They are known as ancient, diverse, universal and alive, and one of the secrets of the permanence of these celebrations, in addition to the deep cultural impact, is the connection of the festivals with nature, culture, art, peace, friendship and social and cultural diversity, which is rooted in the most accurate world calendar (the Iranian solar calendar) from where it derives its meaning and concept. Therefore, Iran is one of the few countries whose official and national calendars are still alive. Accordingly, various countries, such as the member countries of the Nowruz Club, celebrate the emergence of their shared heritage with Iranian culture, history, and heritage under Iran’s national, historical, and official calendar, without the Iranian solar calendar being their official calendar.”
The scientific director of the series “What do I know about Iran” and editor of books such as “Yalda Night,” “History of Astronomy in Iran,” and “Silk Road”, believes that scientific accuracy in the Iranian solar calendar is due to several thousand years of efforts to calculate and correct it, including the time when Hakim Omar Khayam calculated the exact time for holding these celebrations, including Nowruz (beginning of spring and new year in the Iranian calendar), Yalda (the longest night in the Iranian calendar and geography of Iran) and other Iranian celebrations and stated: “Iranians would regularly hold celebrations each month on various occasions, and still a number of these celebrations are held by all Iranians and different nations and cultures that have common roots with Iranian culture. It is important that in Iran and other surrounding countries in Asia and Europe or anywhere in the world, people, regardless of the time difference with the official time of Iran, the exact day, hour, minute, and second in the Iranian calendar and the official time of Tehran, Occasions such as Chaharshambeh Soori, Nowruz and Yalda are celebrated.
In these meetings, where only five celebrations or events related to the celebrations could be presented and approved, Iran introduced the Mehregan, Yalda, Sedeh, and Chaharshanbeh Soori celebrations. The delegates approved Iran’s 4 celebrations for presenting at the S.Korea Intangible Heritage Center and IKAS and to UNESCO for their global registration. Also, the representatives approved the Iranian folkloric music as the only music festival in these meetings.
The critical point is that in introducing the Regional Music Festival of Iran, which has been held regularly for the past 14 years, a collection of dozens of different types of music in Iran, such as Azerbaijan, Kurdish, Lori, Bakhtiari, Zar, Turkmen, Baluchi, Qashqai, Khorasani, and Gilaki, Mazandarani are presented. Connecting Iranian music with celebrations and diversity of Iranian music, variety of instruments, as well as creating cultural interactions with neighboring countries through regional music, are some of the most critical components provided by Iran to record regional music at the meeting of Seoul World Intangible Heritage Center and Asian Studies Center in IKAS Samarghand.
One of the most important events of these meetings was that based on IKAS proposal it was decided that in addition to the national files of each country, a joint file called “Nowruz,” which has already been registered in the UNESCO world intangible heritage and which was proposed by Iran as the host of the Nowruz club and secretariat, be completed, since in addition to the celebrations that deserves an all-encompassing and universal celebration from Asia and the Pacific.
At the same meeting, Mongolia suggested that it wanted to join the Nowruz Club because one of the Kazakh tribes in Mongolia is celebrating the festival with all its components.
The ancient Nowruz celebration was registered in the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List on September 30, 2009, with the membership of seven countries, including Iran, Azerbaijan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. In 2016, since Afghanistan, Iraq, Kazakestan, Tajikestan and Turkamanestan also requested for membership, the ancient Nowruz celebration was registered as a joint celebration of all these countries.
Iran has also prepared and submitted Yalda and Mehregan celebration files for inclusion in the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List, but these files have not yet been registered globally. Yalda celebration was also registered in the list of national intangible heritage in 2019.