Iranians to shun Persian fire festival: Khamenei



Iranians to shun Persian fire festival: Khamenei Tehran: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday urged Iranians to shun next week's Persian fire festival as an un-Islamic event which causes "a lot of harm."

Seven people have already been reported killed in the runup to the festival, ISNA news agency said, quoting a police chief.

Charshanbe Soori, an ancient pagan festival, is held on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Persian calendar year. This year, the ritual falls on the night of March 16.

Khamenei, Iran's all-powerful cleric, said on his website that Charshanbe Soori has "no basis in sharia (Islamic religious law) and creates a lot of harm and corruption, (which is why) it is appropriate to avoid it."

The festival is a prelude to Nowrouz, the Persian New Year which starts on March 21 and marks the arrival of spring.

In the past few years, local municipalities have helped Iranians organise the festival but it is unclear whether they will do so this year in the wake of Khamenei's remarks.

Iranians celebrate the fire festival by lighting bonfires in public places on the night before the last Wednesday and leaping over the flames shouting "Sorkhiye to az man, Zardiye man az to (Give me your redness and I will give you my paleness)."

PTI