- Title: IRAN: Iranians prepare for Nowrouz, the Persian New Year
- Date: 21st March 2007
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (FARSI) FARIBA PANAHI, A TEHRAN HOUSEWIFE, SAYING: "I wish all of Iranian have a very happy Nowrouz (New year). I wish good health, success and peace for Iranians in our new year." (SOUNDBITE) (FARSI) ALI RADFAR, STALL OWNER, SAYING: "We will definitely have a difficult year economically and politically, because Iran's nuclear issues will mean imposing more sanctions from the West, but we will pass through it."
- Reuters ID: LVA1XEAY88UZJVI03YDFHL8AUMY2
- Duration: 00:00:27
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Story Text: Iranians filled open air markets in the capital Tehran to buy festive goods in preparation for the Persian New Year, Nowrouz.
At midnight local time during the night of March 20 and March 21, the ancient Zoroastrian Persian new year will begin, and launch nearly two weeks of holiday.
Women and men gathered at stalls and bought items traditionally used as Nowrouz decorations, hailing spring and symbolising new life. On sale were bowls of small goldfish, bundles of flowers, pots of herbs and coloured eggs. Garlic, traditionally used to ward off evil spirits, was also on display.
Tehran residents stocked up on sweets and savouries for the family feasts usually prepared for the New Year celebrations.
Iran celebrates several non-Islamic holidays, and the pre-Islamic Nowrouz vacation is one of the most popular, bringing the country to a virtually stop for 13 days, at the end of which Iranians celebrate the arrival of spring with outdoor picnics.
The season's festivities are also an opportunity for young Iranians to meet and flirt in a country where mixing in public between unrelated members of the opposite sex is outlawed.
The Islamic Republic has an awkward relationship with its ancient Zoroastrian religion, whose festivals are widely observed by Muslim Iranians.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the government has usually tried to crack down on pagan partying, prompting clashes between police and youths testing the boundaries of Iran's social restrictions.
But analysts say since the election of conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, hardliners who opposed the liberal policies of former President Mohammad Khatami may have less need to flex their muscles.
Others say the authorities do not want to alienate the people during Tehran's stand-off with the West over its nuclear ambitions.
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