As it does every year, Tehran is clearing before the Persian New Year, but this year, since the celebration falls during Ramadan, Iranians must adjust.
On Tuesday, when Iranians celebrate the beginning of the year 1402 on the Persian calendar, over 300 million people in a dozen nations, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Turkey, will wish each other “Nowruz mobarak,” or Happy New Year.
The 3,000-year-old new year festival of Nowruz, which marks the rebirth of nature, starts on the first day of spring and ushers in nearly two weeks of silence on Tehran’s normally busy streets as residents flee to the countryside.
“For 15 days, we try to forget the difficulties of everyday life by having a good time, eating carefully prepared meals and offering gifts to family and friends,” said Laleh, a student leaving Tehran for her home city of Tabriz in the northwest.
This year, Muslims who observe Nowruz, including nearly all of Iran’s 85 million people, will have to balance these customs with those of Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims during which they fast.
Muslim men and women are encouraged to abstain from food and drink from daybreak until dusk during Ramadan. Which is scheduled to start on March 22 or 23.
That creates a conundrum for the Nowruz celebrations, which end 12 days after Sizdeh Bedar, also known as “the day of nature,” when Iranians go on excursions in the countryside.
Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri issued a warning last year that people who don’t observe fasts in public may face punishment.
He continued, even eating in your car, which “is not considered a private space,” is illegal.
Mohsen Alviri, a religious authority, encourages people who want to go on picnics to fast until they break their fast.
Shiite law states that if a believer travels beyond a certain distance from their city of domicile, they are regarded as travelers and are not permitted to fast.