1/17/2008

Traditions

Snow in Rasht, January 2008.
You must be getting so bored with me right about now! I am back in a storytelling mood, and I can't stop myself! Continuing down memory lane and the issue of identity, I want to tell you about traditions today. When I was growing up, as in any other typical middle-class Iranian family, our household was always experiencing much excitement and joy around numerous annual "occasions." Of course, events such as khastegari's, weddings, funerals, and arrivals of new babies into the family received much spontaneous due attention, but there were a set of recurring events each year which were celebrated as family ceremonies and traditions. The whole process of preparing for Nowrooz was a series of events from spring cleaning (khooneh takooni), to reupholstering the furniture, to shopping for clothes and food, to having the biggest Charshanbeh Soori event in the neighborhood, and finally Nowrooz itself, each event filled with smaller events and milestones, each individually important and well planned, down to special meals and snacks served on those occasions.
For example, making pickles in our household was an annul tradition. My mother would go to fruit and vegetable market, buy huge quantities of vegetables and herbs, and have them delivered to the house in a truck. Jamileh Khnoom would come and stay for three days to help my mother clean, wash, and chop the ingredients and put them in huge containers (dabbeh) on the terrace in the sun for several days, before they were moved inside to a cool dark place to last for a whole year to compliment our every meal. The same would take place for cooking jams, making lemon and sour grape juice, and tomato and pomegranate pastes. Even changing the sheets on our blankets (lahaf) was a ceremony, where once every few weeks several women family members would come to help my mother re-sew all the clean, pristine sheets back onto the blankets, helping her be ready for all those unannounced guests who would come to stay the night. In every small tradition, there was life and there are memories of my childhood now sitting in the folds of those lahafs, and inside those dabbehs, and forever lingering around a metal sign covered with cotton ribbons soaked in oil and lit up at sunset on Charshanbeh Soori, announcing: "Sale 1348 Mobarak Baad."
Being so accustomed to traditions, I established my own traditions with my children. A bit more updated, a bit more international at times, and less focused around domestic affairs, my children and I had our own traditions which featured some activities with their friends and cousins in a festive atmosphere. A few days before Nowrooz, for example, I would rent a mini-bus, invite my children's friends, and we would all go to Tajrish to buy our haft-sins, returning home to have lunch and color our eggs, each child taking his haft-sin items and colored eggs home at the end of the day. Or, I would rent a mini-bus to take my kids and their friends on one of the last days of summer to Tehran Bazaar (bein-ol-haramain) to buy new school year supplies. One special occasion for us was to invite their friends to come with us to go watch Tasooa and Ashoora parades (dasteh and heyat). We would walk to Meidoon-e-Chizar and watch the awesome ceremonies taking place there. If I could, I would also encourage them to go to houses of those who were serving free food, Nazri, to wait in line and pick up the neighbors' offerings. We would then return home with their friends and eat the food together.
People would always ask me why I would go through so much trouble just for a few hours, taking care of so many other kids in the process. I always told them that all my life I had considered myself a very fortunate woman because I had such good memories of my childhood. Even as they have become giant young adults, I continue to celebrate and observe many occasions with my children, hoping that the memories we have built together will also enrich their lives, giving them some of the joy I felt as a child and later as an adult. I am so full of nostalgia and memories of Meidoon-e-Chizar these days.

10 comments:

jeerjeerak said...

don't ever stop telling stories nazy joonam. i love them. they bring out somewhat similar memories in me which brighten up these cold and depressing days of winter.

Marzieh said...

سلام

راست میگه جیرجیرک جان
من هم خاطراتت رادوست دارم گاهی که وقت نکنم فقط یه سر میام این جا دیدن دوست..
به یادم میاد کارای مادرم که هنوز ادامه داره خریدن 30 کیلو بادمجان! وسرخ کردن و بسته بندی اونها تا خرید سبزی و تدارکات برای قورمه سبزی..
جوان تر هم که بود مثل خیلی از شیرازی ها 40 یا 50 کیلو آبغوره را با کمک پدرم در خانه میگرفت و ما که
بیدار می شدیم تقریبا تمام بود
نازی جان مرسی از خاطرات قشنگت که باعث شد زحمات مادرم را به یادآورم .ایام به کام

Nazy said...

Salam Jeer Jan! Boy, I'm glad I do have an audience of one or two die-hard readers these days! I did bore everybody else out of my blog! Just kidding (!), as I write for myself and being read is an added bonus. Thanks so much for making me feel good. Take heart Jeerjeerak Jan, spring is right around the corner. Stay warm and safe.

Nazy said...

Salam Marzieh Jan:

I'm glad you came again. Shirazi kadbanoo's are something else! Their pantries always have the best homemade pickles and juices and pastes! I didn't even talk about the business of "freezer management" in an Iranian home! What a lot of work for those they love. I pray for your parents' health and long life azizam. Take care.

nasim said...

salaam Nazy jan,

I accidentally came across your blog while I was searching for links related to Berkeley. We have just moved to Berkeley and I was trying to find some links about the city. I have to say that I love your cheerful stories.. they remind me so much of home.. I simply cannot stop reading your blog.. keep writing!

Anonymous said...

منظور از بادمجان همون بادنجان بود LOL و مرسی از جواب خیلییی قشنگت
عزیزم!!

مرضیه

Nazy said...

Salam Bar Hamsayeh-ye Azizam, Nasim:

Hello and welcome to Berkeley and welcome to my humble space on the blogsphere! A new friend, how very exciting! I am delighted you found me and I am honored to know that you like what you read here. Come on, let's get acquainted! Write to me at nazyk at hotmail dot com and tell me when we can meet. What a good thing to look forward to! Have a fabulous weekend.

Nazy said...

Marzieh Jan, my Night Owl Friend! Sometimes in very late hours of the day (or tomorrow's very early hours!) it appears that on this side of the world you and I are the only two people awake! You are the best! Have a good weekend.

masoud said...

سلام نازی خانم
سنت آرامش بخش است و با حفظ ماهیت میتوان شکل و مناسبات آنرا نو کرد و تو چه خوب اینکار را می کنی

Nazy said...

Masoud Jan:

Thank you and I agree about traditions. They do give us things to look forward to, and things at which to look back.

When my mother passed away, one of my siblings suggested that we give the money for her memorial ceremony to charity. I said we could give money to the charity, too, but we couldn't skip the ceremony for a person whose entire life was built around ceremonies. So, a big memorial service was held for her. We did the same for my father, too. God bless them both and all your departed. Take care my friend.