Written by: Nia S. Amira, an Indonesian author, journalist, and linguist. She writes on culture, international affairs, multiculturalism and religious studies. Her articles have appeared in over thirty media, published in Europe, Asia, and the US.
I have known Iran, the people, and their tradition for nearly 6 years. Though for somehow I have not been in Iran, my heart has already been captivated since I had read the glamorous story of Persian Nobles back in 1977.
The last 5th of March 2018, I came to the Iranian Embassy and had a special interview with H.E. Valiollah Mohammadi Nasrabadi (56), the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Indonesia. Heading to Persian New Year or Nowruz, the Ambassador looked charming in his Pirahan, the typical Iranian cloth. Ambassador Mohammadi was happy to share his warmth feeling of the last result of some Indonesian media traveling to Iran. After the Western countries opened the economy sanction, Iran enjoys the freedom as a sovereign oil producer country in the Middle East. Mohammadi feels grateful that the media in Indonesia keep writing about the reality in modern Iran and the open heart of the Iranian people to the foreigners.
Time flies quickly and this year is his 3rd year of assignment. Mohammadi has been trying to build a very good communication with the Indonesian government and society, especially concerning the Iranian issues that were misled mostly by the Western media. He could be one of the busiest Foreign Ambassadors who should deliver his country’s foreign policy in much better way so not to be misunderstood by large Islamic groups in Indonesia.
Valiollah Mohammadi Nasrabadi, the husband of Fatemeh Mohammadi and father of 2 sons, is keen on history and politics reading, not to surprise by his background in International Relations. His first impression of Jakarta was, unhappily, a city with huge of traffic but he said it was decorated by kind smiling people everywhere he met. Communication is the best part of his nature and he thinks at this time, Iran has more chance to work together with Indonesia in many mutual sectors as part of the Islamic brotherhood. Mohammadi who has been in Sumatra described that Lake Toba is his favorite place to go.
Tabriz is one of the beautiful cities in Iran and famous throughout the country for its culinary style of Chelo Kabab. One of Chelo Kabab’s first distinguished fans was Nasser-e-din Shah of the Qajar Dynasty. Chelo Kabab is also the chosen food for Mohammadi whilst Nasi goreng becomes number one choice for him as the local food. Yazd is his home, where people can find the most delicate Bakhlava (Pakhlava) in Iran. Mohammadi said he respects the present Indonesian government and that Iran will strengthen the bilateral relations with its counterpart in the years ahead. Mohammadi’s first assignment as Ambassador was in South Africa, then further to Ghana in West Africa. Indonesia becomes the third country and the closest one to Iran. It is such a wonderful country with the greatest number of Muslim in the world and as the key's country in Southeast Asia,” told Mohammedi in a warm conversation in his office.
The smiling Ambassador picks blue as his favorite color, he added that in the future, Iranian Embassy will engage more arts and cultural performances and bring Iranian artists to Jakarta, knowing that Indonesia is the heaven of culture and that can be the good reason to collaborate with. It is no doubt that culture is one of the beautiful diplomatic ways and the key to having a good communication with other nation.
Spring is always a beautiful season and everyone feels grateful after the white cold winter. The flowers bloom and the people finally feel warmer. If in Korea, they called Jinhae for spring festival and Matsuri in Japan. In Iran and other countries in Central Asia and Caucus region, people celebrate spring festival called Nowruz or Novruz.
Nowruz is the symbol of a New Life, a New Year according to the solar Hijri calendar, the official calendar in Iran, and related to the vernal equinox. The track of Nowruz’s roots has been traced since the 6th century when Zoroaster was a dominant religion in Iran until the arrival of Islam during the first three centuries. To Iranian, the main cultural practices related to Nowruz is the Haft Sin, a table decorated with seven specific objects placed on it to symbolize a good fortune. The objects are sabzeh, which is wheat or barley growing in a beautiful pot, symbolizing rebirth; samamu, a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat and has an affluence symbolic; senjed, the fruit of wild olive and symbolic of love; serkeh or vinegar which symbolizes age and patience; sib or apple which symbolizes beauty and health; sir or garlic is symbolic of medicine; the last one is somaq or sumac which is symbolic of the sunrise’s color.
Every family tries to make the best Haft Sin and alongside the 7 elements, additional items can be added on the table, including mirror, candles, rosewater, goldfish, and painted eggs and the incorporation of the Holy Koran and Hafez’s book of poetry. Hafez is one of the greatest Persian poets of the 14th century who lauded the joys of love and wine and tavern. In every Iranian's home, there is always Hafez’s book to recite on Nowruz day along with the member of the family.
Nowruz is not alone, on the last Wednesday of the year, there is another tradition called Chaharshanbe Suri, or a Zoroastrian fire-jumping festival aiming to send your sickness to the fire and in return, you receive the warmth for the New Year. In being a tradition and cultural celebration that has survived and evolved for centuries, Iranian people are always motivated to celebrate Nowruz, also those who live in Indonesia. They embrace Nowruz with a happy feeling and with big enthusiasm to delightful spring with family on the 21st of March, just like in their homes in Iran.
Ambassador Mohammadi envoys his warm greetings of Nowruz to the people of Indonesia; to the beautiful new life in springtime; to the colorful nature, and to the warm brotherhood.
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