Amordad News

Narcissus of Behbahan: Fragrance of Life

Translated by Shabboo Goli

When archeological excavations uncovered a golden coffin from the Elamite princes, estimated to be more than 4,000 years old, what attracted the most attention were the cufflinks on the coffin embellished with a design of narcissus on the coffin. From this ancient sign we can see that the narcissus of Khuzestan was so valuable and beautiful for the Khozians, from a very distant past, that they would use this flower as a pattern on their clothes. The flower plains of Behbahan still preserve such admiration and love among its people.

In the southeast of Khuzestan lies the city of Behbahan with its multitude of historical monuments and ecological beauties. The climate there is mountainous and warm. One of the oldest narcissus plains of Iran can be seen there. This is because the narcissus flowers of Behbahan are unique and extraordinary among other species of narcissus in Iran, and its like cannot be found in any other area.

Among the species of Iranian narcissus, Behbahan narcissuses are known as Golgonbak, Meskin or Meskinak, Shahla, and Panjegorbehi (cat paws). The most fragrant among them is the meskin type; its shape and form are also very beautiful. But, surprisingly, this beautiful narcissus does not have many customers in the flower market of Iran, compared to other narcissus flowers! Maybe because meskin narcissus are smaller in size than the other species. The Shahla type has more customers.

In the narcissus plains of Behbahan, this wonderful flower is cultivated by rain-fed and irrigation methods. The area of this plain reaches 300 hectares and the time of harvesting its flowers is from the first days of December to the end of March. More than 400 million narcissus plants are cultivated annually (Khoznews website, December 2019).

But what has made Behbahan’s narcissus more famous is the festival held every year in the last days of December. In this spectacular celebration, various ethnic groups from Khuzestan, Isfahan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Ilam, and the provinces near Khuzestan travel to Behbahan and participate in this glorious occasion, with the air full of the fragrance of this flower. Behbahan festival holds one of the most spectacular programs, including local games, plays by theatre groups, making the day full of joy and color! On this day and at the same time as the beginning of the festival, the “Narcissus bell” will be sounded in Behbahan schools.

narcissus flowers plain behbahan

They and many other programs have given the Behbahan narcissus plain such a status that they nationally registered that area in 2014. We have heard that the Behbahan Narcissus case of global registration has been pursued for many years; how long will it take? It should also be mentioned that in the Dutch festival, Behbahan narcissus plain and its beautiful flowers won first place.

But not everything is as it should be. Unpleasant and disturbing news is the conversion of Behbahan narcissuses into wheat fields. So much so that the area under narcissus plantation has been reduced from several hectors to one 30 hectors. (Shahrvand newspaper website; December 2017). Reports indicate a 23% decrease in Behbahan daffodil flower production (ISNA News Agency; December 2021). This decrease is also due to the continuous drought of these years, and not everything should be blamed on the narcissus fields changing into wheat fields. The price of daffodils has also increased significantly in recent years. Each hectare of narcissus is 350 million Tomans, and the value of the entire area under cultivation of narcissus in Behbahan is more than 875 billion Tomans (ISNA report; December 2021).

It is said that once upon a time, the plain of Behbahan narcissuses was so dense that their bright colors and pleasant scenery were visible from a distance. It was heartwarming and joyful, and the lovely scent of narcissuses was scattered everywhere and filled Behbahan with its aroma. In the fifties Behbahan had more than 30 narcissus plains.  Since the plains have been smoothened and used for other purposes, the number of Behbahan daffodil fields have reached 5 in number. (Khuzestan Tourism Guide website; December 2011). Let us take care that the narcissus of Behbahan does not become so scarce that only a memory stays from them! In addition to the narcissus fields can be found in the provinces of Ilam, Kurdistan, Fars and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad.

 

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