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Thousand-Year-Old Wedding: Pir-e Shalyar celebrations in Iranian Kurdestan
By Kian Amani - Iran; Source: Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR)

In the high mountains of Iran's Kurdish region, a long and winding road leads to the ancient village of Oraman Takht. In the cold depths of winter, an annual festival is held here to commemorate the wedding of a priest named Pir-e Shalyar more than a millennium ago.

Watch youtube video of this 1000 year celebration here


The story of Pir-e Shalyar mixes myth with history. It's widely believed he was a Zoroastrian priest who lived in this area in the early part of the eighth century, a short while after the Muslim Arab invasion of Iran.

Pir-e Shalyar's legacy is a book of poetry consisting of proverbs, tales and wisdom, which offers an insight into the lives and practices of the people of his time.

According to local lore, Pir-e Shalyar worked miracles and healed the sick. The story goes that some ruler - perhaps the king of Bukhara, or the governor of some far-off region - sent his mute, beautiful daughter to Pir-e Shalyar to see if he could help her. As the girl approached the holy man's home, she regained the power of speech. It is their marriage that the celebration commemorates.

While people in this region embraced Islam over a thousand years ago, they still mark the date of Pir-e Shalyar's wedding, with Islamic traditions and litany and Sufi practices blended into the festival.


Tehran gallery to exhibit Iranian wedding photos

TEHRAN, Jan. 8 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iranian photographer Hassan Sarbakhshian plans to hang his works depicting wedding ceremonies in various regions of Iran at the Mah-e Mehr Gallery for three weeks beginning on January 13. Sarbakhshian took the photos during a tour of the country over the past year.


The confrontation between tradition and modernity, the cultural anthropology of the country's ethnic groups, and various ceremonies and customs are the themes of the photos.



Sarbakhshian is also scheduled to attend a discussion session at the gallery on January 16.



He had focused on the people of side alleys and bazaars in his previous exhibition at Tehran's Khak Gallery last April.



He plans to publish a book of his photos on the theme of the culture and social ceremonies of Iran's great civilization by March 2008.



His book "Time Pulse", featuring photos of Iran in general, the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the hajj, was published in 2005.


Photos by Amir Ali Javadian (source: ISNA)

Iran is a diverse country consisting of people of many religions and ethnic backgrounds cemented by the Persian culture. 70% of present-day Iranians are Iranic peoples, native speakers of Iranian branches of the Indo-European languages. The majority of the population speaks the official Persian language, and other Iranian languages or dialects. In addition Arabic is spoken in Southwestern Iran, and Turkic dialects, (i.e. Azeri, etc) are spoken in different areas in Iran. The main ethnic groups are Persians (51%), Azeris (24%), Gilaki and Mazandarani (8%), Kurds (7%), Arabs (3%), Baluchi (2%), Lurs (2%), Turkmens (2%), Laks, Qashqai, Armenians, Persian Jews, Georgians, Assyrians, Circassians, Tats, Mandaeans, Gypsies, Brahuis, Hazara, Kazakhs and others (1%). (source: wikipedia)

Iran's Ethnic Groups (click map to see higher resolution)
Map by BBC; Sources: CIA World Factbook, www.citypopulation.de, GlobalSecurity,
1996 Iran Census, Petroleum Economist, Times Atlas

Various ethnic groups or people of different regions of Iran have their own traditional weddings ceremonies.  The photos presented here capture some of these ceremonies.

Traditional Iranian wedding ceremony depicted in a teahouse painting by Ahmad Khalili
click image to see high resolution)

Traditional Iranian wedding ceremony depicted in a teahouse painting by Abbas Boloukifar

Photos: Turkmen Wedding in Gonbad-e Qabus, Iran

Photos by Mehdi Ghasemi, ISNA

Gonbad-e Qabus is a city in the province of Golestan in Iran. It had an estimated population of 135,868 in 2005. The city is famous for a historic brick tower by the same name.

Photos: "Gooleh" Wedding Ceremonies in Gilan
Photos by Ali Estefadejo, ISNA
The following photos are from the traditional Gooleh wedding ceremonies in Gilan province of Iran.




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