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Interview with Mobed Mehraban Pouladi, in Hamshahri newspaper, on the subject of Sadeh Festival

Sadeh is celebrated in Iran to commemorate and honor Mother Nature, and the most outstanding part of this celebration is the bonfire. The main purpose of lighting the fire is to respect light, eliminate the impure elements and create purity and also spread happiness.

What you will read here is part of Hamshahri’s interview with Mobed Mehraban Pouladi, Deputy Director of the Mobed Association of Tehran.  This interview was published on 11th Bahman, Issue No. 9, on the occasion of 10th Bahman, the national celebration of Sadeh, and the lighting of the fire.  Sadeh has been celebrated in Iran for thousands of years, exactly on the same day as 10th bahman.  Sadeh should continue to be celebrated in Iran.  This interview is with Mobed Mehraban Pouladi and Seyed Ahmad Mohit Tabatabai, a cultural heritage expert and director of the National Council of Museums.

Universal respect for light and nature

Mobed Mehraban Pouladi, one of the Zoroastrian mobeds and vice-president of Zoroastrian Mobed Association of Iran, said in an interview with Hamshahri:  “Sadeh has been held since the Achaemanid era in Iran.  According to Mobed Pouladi, Sadeh is celebrated in Iran to preserve and protect nature.  The most outstanding part of this festival is setting a fire, the basic purpose of which, in addition to honoring light, is to destroy impurity and ask for the happiness of others.  Gathering firewood by the people for the fire, is also a sign of togetherness and harmony.  Zoroastrians also consider this day as a day of love and humility. Mobed Pouladi considers the lighting of fire as a sign of light, enlightenment, and the beginning of civilization and says: “light and heat are necessary for nature and human life. Sadeh is celebrated with this intention.”

He added that Zoroastrians celebrate Sadeh in many cities in Iran, and also in countries where Zoroastrians live, such as India, Canada, Australia, USA, Sweden, etc. Sadeh is also held in neighboring countries.  Mobed Pouladi said:  “Lighting a fire by King Hooshang is an Iranian legend. Thus, in Iranian mythology, fire arose from the collision of two incendiary stones and was thrown by throwing an incendiary stone by Houshang Shah, the mythical king of Iran. Sadeh is celebrated to respect light.  Hooshang Shah is one of Iran’s first mythical kings, like Keyoumars and Jamshid.  Creation of calligraphy in Iran is attributed to Keyoumars, Nowruz to Jamshid and emergence of fire to Hooshang.” Mobed Pouladi called the national registration of this celebration an important step that can lead to global registration, due to its widespread scope.

Hamshahri wrote:  Last year Sadeh was registered in the national list of Iran’s intangible cultural heritages.  The Iranian Zoroastrian community as well as the cultural heritage experts believe that Sadeh should be registered in UNECSO’s world heritage list.  The mythical fire that Zoroastrians attribute its origin in Iran to Hooshang Shah, the mythological king of the Pishdadi Dynasty in ancient Iran, and is referred to as a sign and symbol of civilization in Iran, was lit up yesterday evening, as the sun set, in many cities of Iran and also in some foreign countries, with a difference that this year, due to the corona pandemic ll over the world, the bonfire was lit without spectators and participating in the Sadeh festival was only possible virtually, in Iran and the world. 

Return of Light and Warmth

In an interview with Hamshahri, Seyed Ahmad Mohit Tabatabai, a cultural heritage expert, and director of the National Council of Museums, described the Sadeh celebration as one of the most ancient Iranian festivals dating back to before the Sassanid period and before the arrival of Islam in Iran. He said: “in Iran, the old celebration of Sadeh is following by the Iranian calendar of the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere, which announces the end of the cold and the beginning of life again, and the rising of the sun.”In Iran, the very ancient Sadeh is celebrated according to the Iranian calendar of the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere, which tells of the end of the cold season and beginning of new life, and the rising of the sun. For this reason Sadeh is held on 10th of Bahman, when the warming up of the Earth is celebrated by lighting a fire, as a sign of the return of warmth and life.”

Sayed Ahmad Mohit Tabatabai states that the Sadeh was of great importance for the people of the northern hemisphere whose life was based on animal farming and agriculture, added: Festivals and customs are the wealth of a nation and culture, and bring together different ethnics and groups. The head of ICOM Iran said: “Sadeh is celebrated in different countries in different form with some changes in the calendar of different cultural groups, forming the large cultural society of Iran.”

He added that Sadeh is also celebrated in Armenia.  the only difference is that this celebration is held in February, when the Armenians set up a big fire, an Armenian priest recites prayers around the fire, and in the end the participants carry a piece of the fire from the big fire to their homes.  Thus, the Iranian Sadeh is celebrated in Armenia in its ancient form but in a conventional manner.  The head of ICOM Iran considers Sadeh being worth globalization, and adds:  “Sadeh is an ancient Iranian festival, is part of the historical Iranian identity and is worth being registered as an intangible heritage. The direct and indirect effect of celebrating the warming of the earth and moving towards the beginning of spring and revitalization is essential and credible for the region’s cultural groups. It is worth considering globally as an ancient custom that has continued to be performed in different forms in accordance with today’s conditions, and thus be registered as a world heritage.

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