Embracing 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Kashan is an amazingly underrated city with an immense history, sociable people, and magnificent architecture.
However, the grandeur of this city is rarely shown in the mass media. What is not reflected through is the beauty of its landscapes, the details of its striking architecture, the hospitality of the locals, and so much more.
many time-honored cultural elements, passed down from generation to generation in the city of Kashan, have been registered in the national intangible cultural heritage list.
Different ceremonies and rituals are held in Kashan and nearby regions. Each of those ceremonies have a story and are held due to a specific reason.
Festival of Rose and Rosewater
Every year, by late April, dozens of festivals of rose and rosewater start to take the center stage in Kashan along with other nearby townships and villages. The distillation ceremonies, which are commonly known as “Golab-giri”, usually attract thousands of people from different parts of the country and abroad to witness the iconic tradition of the region. While Kashan and its neighboring villages are covered with pink roses and the scent of the flowers spreads over the area, visitors can have a unique experience watching the process of making rosewater from harvesting to steaming rose petals.
Esbandi (or Esfandi) is an elaborate festival that was widely held in the ancient times in the Kashan district on the eve of the month Esfand (the last month of the year according to Solar Calendar), though some of it’s rituals are still held in some of the towns and villages around Kashan. The ritual would begin several days earlier, with a complete spring cleaning, a visit to the public bathhouse, and buying of new clothes. Villagers would travel to Kashan to procure the necessary provisions. There, in the bazaar, shopkeepers would elaborately decorate their merchandise and illuminate their shops. Exchange of gifts played a central role in Esbandi. The most common gift exchange is the gifts women engaged to be married would receive from their fianc ’s household. Cooking and feasting were the most important aspects of the Esbandi. At night family members would stay home; visiting with relatives was considered inauspicious. The women cook special foods and prepare some other snacks such as dried fruits, nuts, etc. They believe that eating the Esbandi foods cause to keep away noxious creatures,
especially the infamous scorpions of Kashan.
Ritual Dramatic Art Of Ta, zīye
Ta’zieh literally means condolence, comfort and is derived from the root word “aza” meaning mourning. The art form is a type of passion play that is considered to be the Iranian theater’s national form. The art form has its origin in some well-known rites and mythologies like the Yadegare-Zariran, Sug-e-Siavush, and Mithraism. Ta’zieh has many characteristics similar to European opera and thus is often called Persian opera. The art form also influences Persian symphonic music and Persian cinema. Heroic tales of sacrifice and love and resistance to evil are the common themes used in Ta’zieh.
The Festival of Rolling Babies in Roses
One of the sweetest and most exhilarating rituals being practiced in Kashan is Gol Ghaltan (literally meaning rolling in flowers), which is believed to be a symbol of bringing blessings to the family of a newborn. People in this region believe that rolling babies among the roses gives them joy and refreshment while keeping them untainted and free from diseases. The freshness of the petals saves the baby’s skin, allowing them to stay happy. In spring, when the pink roses bloom in the area, when gardeners, people, and tourists are getting ready for the rosewater distillation festival, commonly known as “Golab-giri”, female members of the families, mainly the baby’s mother, grandmothers, and aunts perform the Gol Ghaltan ceremony.
The Nakhl carrying ritual (carrying Nakhl, as a symbolic representation of the Imam Hussain’s coffin) is one of the largest traditional mourning rites in Kashan, which is held every year during the days of Tasua and Ashura ( the special days of mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussein in 680 (61 AH) at Karbala, Iraq) in Timcheh Amin Al-Dawlah, Kashan Bazaar. With a history of more than 500 years, the Nakl gardani ritual of Hosseinieh( a religious place) Sarfareh and Sadreh, has been registered recently in the list of cultural heritage of Iran.