There have been noisy and in places unruly
street celebrations in Iran to mark the annual
Festival of Fire, an annual ritual that dates
back to pre-Islamic times.
State-run media said at least 15 people had
been injured in Tehran alone as people jumped
over bonfires and let off fireworks to celebrate
Chahar Shanbe Suri, a festival marking the end
of the Persian year.
The festival, known as the Festival of Fire,
has its origins in the ancient Zoroastrian
religion, and Muslim clerics have tried to
would bring offerings to the Kings at
BBC's Tehran correspondent says some youths let
off dangerous home-made explosives, as opposed to
the usual fireworks, using the festival as an
opportunity to vent their frustration at
restrictions on social freedoms. The French news
agency, AFP, said 40 people were arrested in
Tehran in clashes with police.
annual ritual takes place on the last Tuesday
before the Persian New Year or Nowruz, on 21
bonfires are lit on the streets and people jump
over them to "purify" themselves and
banish evil spirits ahead of the year to come.
Since the Islamic revolution, the clergy has
remained opposed to the popular festival, which it
sees as superstitious and anti-Islamic. But the
ancient ritual has survived many generations and
Before Islam came
to Iran in the 7th Century, the main religion was
Zoroastrianism, named after its founder Zoroaster
(in Greek) or Zarathustra (the old Persian name).
Some scholars argue that it was the world's first
built fire temples to fight evil
The Zoroastrians held seven things to be sacred
including the four elements of which fire was
considered to be holy.
ancient fire temple at Isfahan
The present-day Festival of Fire is rooted in
the Zoroastrian cult focusing on the battle
against evil and the main symbol in this battle
was the sacred element Fire.
The most important places of worship were Fire
Temples, ruins of which are scattered across what
is now Iran as well as parts of Iraq, India and
along the Caspian Sea.
The ancient festival of Nowruz has survived as
the main New Year festival in Iran to the present
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