As you are all aware I am from India, the land with diverse cultures and multi religion. If you have to talk about diversity, India is the best example. But still there are many parts of the world which have complete different cultures and backgrounds then what we have in India. There are quiet a few such places that I have visited which are completely different from my culture, like Jordan, Egypt, Iran, and Oman where I am living currently. But the one most interesting place I found from all of these was Iran.
I felt Iran was an exceptional place till date that I have visited. Right from the language, to the food, lifestyle, dressing...everything is unique about them. Let me give you a glimpse of this place.
The whole of Iran is very picturesque, every place is unique, there are ice clad mountains, green landscapes, the famous Caspian Sea, beautiful city gardens, archeological sites....But one challenge that every tourist faces here is the language.
Very few people would speak English, it is very important to have a tour guide to visit this country, else one will feel lost. We went for 2 weeks in a Tour, so it was comfortable and really did not have much of issue, because the Tour guide could speak English and she was there all the time around us for translations. Yes she was also finding it challenging being a translator for the 20 of us.
The local food here is the kebabs and rice, and the local people would eat it almost every day, there are many other traditional dishes as well that one can relish on. If you visit this land, you will be surprised that there are no KFC, McDonalds, Subway, Pizza hut, or any international chains presence to mention. Everything is available but in their local way. There are local Burger, Pizza joints. Actually one thing I observed here was they do not want to entertain any type of other cultures in their land and stick to their own brands. Absolutely I did not see any International brands here, even in clothing, footwear, everything was local promoted. They have only promoted their home grown industries. Their economy is fully controlled by the government and hence the presence of private sectors is very weak here.
Dressing in Iran is again one another challenge. As soon as you touch the land, every single female needs to cover their head, and should be fully covered in hands and legs irrespective from where you come. They are very strict on their dressing. A couple of times in the hotel lobby we were careless with our scarf and it would fall off, the hotel guy would not miss telling us to put our scarf right. Though talking to some local people, we realized that's not what the locals want, these are enforced laws by the government. The females cannot even wear quarter sleeves dresses. It has to be full sleeve and full legs covered.
Their celebrations are also different. In India, we celebrate almost every world festival, be it our own or not, but we do. But in this place, there are other celebrations then their own traditional holidays. Nowruz, which is their New Year is celebrated in big style. Like Santa Claus in Christmas, they have a Haji Firouz, The “Santa Claus” of Iran. Haji Firouz is a character representing an African Slave serving their Iranian masters, it also represents the blatant racism. In today's time they are a part of their New Year Celebrations and all their Cultural festivities, where in they wear a red dress with a black jacket and a cap with their face and hand painted black. The black face of Haji Firouz represents the return from the world of dead and the red clothes representing their blood. They have their traditional songs which they play in the festivities.
I was lucky to witness this myself in one of the park's celebrations.
The Albourz Mountain range in Iran is one site to visit, and the locals have a story behind it. It is said that there is a Monster named Zohak who is chained up in this Mountain, whole day and night he keeps chewing the chains and weakens them, but at the crack of dawn when the cock crows the chain once again gets strong and binds the monster Zohak. Through this mythology it also conveys the message that good will always have victory over the evil, just about the time when Zohak would set free the cock crows and he again gets chained up, likewise when we think that the evil has taken over and there is no hope comes the ray of hope and goodness at rescue.
There are lot of small villages which takes us back into the time. One such village I visited was Cham. You would feel you have gone back in time to the stone age. The houses here are still very very traditional from the olden days and even the lifestyle of the people here is quite primitive. You cannot believe that something like this still exist in the world of skyscrapers and hi-tech gadgets. There is a cypress tree here which is around 3,000 years old.
This is how the village Cham looks like, they look like mud houses but they are made of bricks.
The another interesting village that I visited was Kandovan Village, where people still live in Cave houses. In my travels across the globe, I have never come across anything like this. Their houses are so different and unique. Its not that they live with sophisticated amenities but they have everything they need for their living.
The houses are something like this.
The village is on the mountain and there are steps carved out, so you need to walk up to visit the place.
Iran is rich with history and full of archeological sites. Persepolis is one of the most famous one. I have really been fortunate to visit this land. Iran was important for me to visit as it takes me back to my roots. I am a Zoroastrian by religion and the roots of my religion emerge from this country, though our forefathers left this place centuries ago to save the Religion from Islamic dominance. But when I visited this place, there was nothing familiar or similar to the same religion that we practice back in India. The name of the religion is same, but everything is different, the ceremonies, the dressing, language, lifestyle, everything is different.
In India in our religion, people from other communities are not allowed to visit our Temple, but in Iran there is no such thing. Anyone can visit the temple. A complete contrast of what we follow. In many ways this place was also an eye opener for me.
All the pictures are self clicked
I will like to invite @sugandhaseth to participate in this contest as well.
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