SEEZDEH BE DAR
By: Massoume Price
At the last day of the New Year celebrations, the 13th of the first month, it is the universal custom in Iran to pass as many hours as possible out of doors. All people will leave their homes to go to the parks or local plains for a very festive picnic. It is a must to spend this day in nature and the occasion is called ‘Seezdeh be dar’ (getting rid of the omen of the 13th day). This was not celebrated in this manner before Islam and might be several rituals in one.
It is possible that this day was devoted to the deity Tishtrya (Tir) protector of rain. In Zoroastrian calendar each day is named after a deity and this particular day in the month of Farvardin is named after Tishtrya. In the past there were outdoor festivities to pray to this Eyzad and ask for adequate rain that was essential for agriculture.
Iranians today regard this day as bad omen and believe that by going into the fields and parks they avoid the misfortunes that could befall on them. This notion is contrary to the Zoroastrian doctrine where all days were regarded as sacred and were named after venerated deities. However, according to popular belief, Imam Jaffar Sadegh, the 7th Shiite Imam has labeled the 13th day of the month as a day with unfortunate consequences, therefore Iranians could have combined the two. By going out doors into the fields the ancient festivities were observed while the Islamic ideas are also incorporated into the occasion.
All kinds of food and delicacies are prepared with tea, local drinks, fruits, bread, cheese and fresh herbs. The wealthy Iranians will spend the day in their country homes and estates. The occasion is a communal one and all close relatives and friends will participate. Wheat or barley shoots (Sabzeh) that are grown especially for New Year and are kept throughout the festivities are discarded in nature mainly in running waters and small rivers on this day. The picnic ends with the setting of the sun. The occasion has no religious significance and is celebrated by all. With the more modern Iranians there is music and dancing while most people will play games and sports. It is also believed that unwed girls can wish for a husband by going into the fields and tying a knot between green shoots, symbolizing a marriage knot.