TEHRAN — Fireworks crackled on the streets at dusk Tuesday as many Iranians celebrated the pre-Islamic festival of Chaharshanbe Suri, sometimes referred to as the Festival of Fire.
Many youths loath the ubiquitous morality police — who enforce Islamic dress codes and gender strictures on socializing — and prefer to go out of town for the party. An ingenious industry has emerged to transport young people deep into the desert on bus trips for a day of high jinks and gaiety, away from morality minders. The lengthy bus voyage is part of the fun.
Like other enthusiasts interviewed, Goli did not want her surname used for privacy reasons.
On this day, three buses were transporting 90 young people from northwest Tehran to an isolated spot in Iran's central desert. There, participants planned to set off firecrackers, light a bonfire and be happy.
The highlight is the dance around the blazing pyre, pagan style. The tradition, dating to the Zoroastrian era, more than 3,000 years ago, is also sometimes called the Fire Jumping festival.