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Iran celebrates despite rain

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranians on Tuesday celebrated the last day of the Persian new year holiday with picnics in parks and outdoor festivities despite heavy rain.

Because of the rain since Monday, parks were not packed as usual on Sizdeh Bedar, but some Iranians still managed to get out and enjoy themselves.

It is believed to be bad luck to stay indoors on the 13th day of Nowruz, the Persian new year, which began March 20. Sizdeh is 13 and bedar means passing in Persian.

"We love our traditions and in some cases, we are even stubborn and insist on remaining loyal to them," said Farshad Dargahi, as he was trying to fix a nylon sheet to protect his family from the downpour in Mellat Park in northern Iran.

"I've never stayed at home during Sizdeh Bedar and as you see, this rain didn't dissuade me today," he said, his sons playing soccer nearby.

Sizdeh Bedar has several customs. Iranians throw trays of sprouted seeds that have been sitting on their nowruz tables outside the homes.

Traditionally, the young make a wish and tie blades of grass together. People hope to put their failures behind them and start the new year with prosperity.

At a wide lush area next to Modarres Highway in northern Tehran, several cars were parked and families sheltered under a bridge.

"Whether this is superstition or insanity I don't know, but I just know that we should not stay home this day," said Babak Daryaei, a 20-year-old university student.

Daryaei said he joked with his elder sister that "she will remain single for many years" because she chose to stay at home.

The Nowruz celebrations date back to Iran's pre-Islamic past. Unlike other Muslim Mid east countries, Iran and some of its neighbours follow the Persian solar calendar, which begins on the first day of spring. On March 20, Iran began the year 1379.

The Persian calendar begins with the migration of Islam's Prophet Mohammed from the city of Mecca to Medina, an event that occurred in A.D. 622.

The Islamic calendar starts from the same point, but uses a lunar year of 354 days, making the current year 1420.




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