Cyrus the Great Day

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Cyrus Day
7aban1394.jpg
People gathering around the Tomb of Cyrus on 29 October 2015
Status Unofficial
Genre Commemoration
Date(s) 7th day of Aban
Frequency Annually
Venue Tomb of Cyrus
Location(s) Pasargadae
Coordinates 30°11′38″N 53°10′02″E / 30.19389°N 53.16722°E / 30.19389; 53.16722
Country Iran
Years active Early 2000s–present
Most recent 29 October 2017
Previous event 28 October 2016
Activity Gathering

Cyrus the Great Day (Persian: روز کوروش بزرگ‎, translit. ruz-e kuroš-e bozorg) is an unofficial holiday in Iran that takes place on 7th of Aban, the eighth month on the Iranian calendar – usually occurring on 29 October on the Gregorian calendar – to commemorate Cyrus the Great.

The most prominent event of the day is gathering in the tomb of Cyrus, located in Pasargadae.

History of observance[edit]

Cyrus the Great Day is an invented tradition introduced in the early 2000s,[1] on the internet and social networking websites.[2] Based on some historical records, 29 October was the day when Cyrus entered Babylon.[3]

The observance is unofficial, and is not designated on any official calendar, neither on the Iranian calendar nor on those of the UNESCO.[4] There has been calls for the Iranian government to recognize it as an official state ceremony.[1] In 2017, Bahram Parsaei, representative of Shiraz in the parliament voiced the demand.[5]

2016 gathering[edit]

Pasargadae on 28 October 2016

2016 Cyrus day occurred on 28 October (due to the overlap of leap years in the Iranian and Gregorian calendars) and fell on Friday (Iranian weekend).[3] Pasargadae attracted thousands of people from across the country who celebrated the day and chanted nationalist slogans.[1] Nomad people, tribesmen and ethnic minorities, including Kurds and Iranian Arabs were present in their traditional clothing.[1] The attendance was unprecedented according to spectators, and the roads leading to the tomb reportedly saw a 30/40-kilometer traffic jam.[3]

An unofficial estimation puts the attendance figure between 15,000 and 20,000.[6]

Political dimensions[edit]

During the gathering, some took advantage of the event to protest against the government. "No Gaza, no Lebanon, [we will only] sacrifice ourselves for Iran!", "Iran is our homeland; Cyrus is our father," and “Clerical rule is synonymous with only tyranny, only war,” and “Freedom of thought cannot take place with beards” were among the slogans in the amateur videos going viral on social media.[6][7]

According to Reuters, "a few marchers" shouted anti-Arab and pro-Shah slogans. A judiciary official said that the organizers of the event were arrested.[8]

2017 crackdown[edit]

In October 2017, an official statement by the local authorities of Cultural Heritage Organization in Fars Province was published and circulated on social media, declaring that Cyrus' tomb would be closed to the public from between 27 and 30 October 2017. However, the statement was denied after criticisms.[6]

All roads leading to Pasargad County were closed, due to what the authorities called "ongoing construction". Fences were erected around the mausoleum in Pasargadae and Basij militia were stationed in the region to hold a drill. Iranian Judiciary's mouthpiece wrote that the Ministry of Intelligence disrupted plans for the "illegal gathering".[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Menahem Merhavi (16 January 2017). "Cyrus Day – A Tradition in the Making". Iran Pulse Heading. Tel Aviv: The Alliance Center for Iranian Studies. 5 (80). 
  2. ^ Masoud Alzahid (30 October 2016), "Why Iranians circumambulate Cyrus' tomb", Al Arabiya News, retrieved 30 October 2017 
  3. ^ a b c Saeid Jafari (2 November 2016), "'Cyrus the Great' enters Iranian politics", Al-Monitor, retrieved 30 October 2017 
  4. ^ Fatemeh M. Safaei, ed. (30 October 2016), translated by Reza Bahar, "On naming a day after Cyrus the Great", Islamic Republic News Agency, 82287376, retrieved 30 October 2017 
  5. ^ "MP Calls For Celebrating International Day Of Cyrus The Great", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 12 October 2017, retrieved 30 October 2017 
  6. ^ a b c "Heritage Director Denies Pasargadae Shutdown As Cyrus Day Approaches", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 24 October 2017, retrieved 30 October 2017 
  7. ^ Alijani Ershad (3 November 2016), "Thousands in Iran use king's anniversary to protest against ruling regime", France24, retrieved 30 October 2017 
  8. ^ Bozorgmehr Sharafedin (31 October 2016), Tom Heneghan, ed., "Iranians arrested after celebrating ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great", Reuters, retrieved 30 October 2017 
  9. ^ "Iran Says It Foils Plot Involving Tomb of Cyrus the Great", Associated Press, VOA News, 29 October 2017, retrieved 30 October 2017