National Iranian 'Ash' Festival unity of Iran's ethnic groups

TEHRAN, Nov. 22 (MNA) – The National Iranian Ash Festival as the largest food festival in Iran, is a chance for Iranians of all different ethnic groups, cultures, and languages to share their own way of cooking local foods with their compatriots.

National Iranian Ash Festival is a cultural and entertaining event in Iran which has begun work in 2005. The festival is annually held at the Gavazang (El Daghi) recreational center in Zanjan, northwestern Iran.

Gavazang Recreational Center in Zanjan

Being the largest food festival in the country, the event is not only a food festival but also a four-day chance for Iranian ethnic groups to gather together in a national event so as to improve their unity and national spirit despite having different local clothes, rituals, and traditions, cultures, dialects, and languages.

Throughout the festival, some cooks from almost all provinces of the country who are showcasing and selling their local foods, potages, audible souvenirs as well as the craftsmen and artists who are making valuable handicrafts in pavilions draw everyone's attention.

Iranian Food, worldwide Food

Being famous with the slogan of "Iranian Food, worldwide Food", the festival is basically focused on the Iranian delicious dish, called 'Ash' in the Persian language, which is a traditional slow-cooked, thick soup made with chickpeas, beans, noodles, and fresh herbs.

Ash sometimes transliterated as ash, aash, or āsh, is usually served hot and is part of Persian cuisine. It is also found in Afghan, Azerbaijani, Caucasian, and Turkish cuisine.

As there are dozens of recipes for this traditional dish, Iranian people from different ethnic groups attend this festival so as to display their specific recipe for cooking different types of Ash as well as other local foods.

Based on different recipes and tastes, this nutrient food is designed with fried meat, onion, garlic, yoghurt, whey, dried herb, and fruits as well as almond, nuts and etc.

Some sweet ingredient which is used in cooking Ash

Usually, at the closing ceremony of the festival, the organizers introduce the winners of different sections, including cooking Ash, making handicrafts, and as well as other amusing competitions.

Winners of the Iranian Ash Festival in their local clothing

Ash a culture-bound meal in Iranian society

If you wonder what is the reason behind advocating Ash as the main meal of a food festival on such a large scale. The answer is here.

The procedure of cooking this food, from providing the ingredients to preparing them, cooking the food, and serving it, requires a cooperative measure by everyone.

As cooking Ash brings people together and enhances friendship, unity, and kindness among neighbours and fellow citizens, therefore, the food has got a particular cultural role in Iranian society  

Since old times, Iranian people cook Ash on happy occasions in order to share their happiness with their beloved ones. Also, they cook this food to express their sympathy on a sad issue such as losing a person.

Roots of National Iranian Ash Festival in ancient Iran

The roots of holding such food festivals in Iran can be traced back to ancient times during which Iranian people and farmers used to share their happiness with each other through holding ceremonies to give thanks for the blessing of the earth, successful harvests in Autumn, and for the hope of a good growing season in the early spring.

Such joyful ceremonies were included coming together, showcasing the crops, food, etc. as well as doing their favourite activities and local sports and dances.

Today, the National Iranian Ash Festival, in a modern version, shares some characteristics with such ancient Iranian thanksgiving ceremonies in terms of gathering together, displaying local food, as well as performing local activities.

The Iranian ethnic groups with colourful local clothes, men who are having folk dances in the sideline of the festival, the local women who are baking traditional bread in nomadic tents as well as many cultural sections such as playing folk music, and performing amusing competitions are the elements which have given a special feeling and atmosphere to the festival.

Traditional Stick Dance of Sistan and Baluchistan

Men having Kurdish traditional folk dance at National Iranian Ash Festival

Reported and Compiled by Marzieh Rahmani

News Code 165928

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