Intangible Heritage: Iran’s Major Religious Ceremony Scrapped as Covid Bites

Intangible Heritage: Iran's Major Religious Ceremony Scrapped as Covid Bites

Qalishuyan, a religious ritual which was held annually in the central city of Kashan, has been called off this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Qalishuyan ritual or any other related (congregational) mourning ceremonies won’t be held in Mashhad-e Ardehal,” IRNA quoted Kashan Governor Ali-Akbar Mortezaei as saying on Thursday.

“Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, and according to regulations issued by the national headquarters for coronavirus control, we should put stricter restrictions in place because people’s health is our first priority,” the official noted.

Passed down from generation to generation, the religious ritual is traditionally observed by hundreds of faithful Shia Muslims who came together in Khaveh village of Mashhad-e Ardehal near Kashan.

The ritual was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012. It takes place on the nearest Friday to the seventeenth day of the seventh Iranian calendar month of Mehr, started Sep. 23.

Qalishuyan is practiced to honor the memory of Soltan Ali, a holy figure among the people of Kashan, Fin, and their nearby cities and villages.

According to legend, he was martyred, and his body found and carried in a carpet to a stream, where it was washed and buried by the people of Fin and Khaveh. The mausoleum of Soltan Ali is the site of a ritual where a carpet is washed in the holy stream by a huge gathering.

In the morning, the people of Khaveh gather at the mausoleum in order to sprinkle rosewater on the carpet. Having completed the wrapping rituals, they deliver it to the people of Fin outside, who rinse the carpet in running water and sprinkle rosewater drops with neatly cut and beautifully decorated wooden sticks.

An alluring destination, Kashan boasts a bunch of architectural wonders, an atmospheric covered bazaar, boutique hotels, and a UNESCO-registered garden.

Many travelers opt to bypass the delightful oasis city that is sprawled on the edge of the Dasht-e Kavir on their journeys between Tehran and Isfahan provinces.

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