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Qeshm Sea Festival

On the Persian Gulf island of Qeshm, the sea and fishing play a major part in people’s lives and the seasons are divided accordingly. The New Year, called the Fisherman’s Norooz, (Norooz-e Sayyad) is celebrated at the beginning of the main fishing season in late July, rather than late March which is the customary national Norooz.

One of the most extensive celebrations is held in the village of Salkh in southern Qeshm. The fishing is stopped on New Year ’s day as it is believed that the fish should be given a chance to reproduce. Instead, everyone goes to the sea to bathe and so start the New Year on a fresh note. Then they wear new clothes and prepare various festive dishes which should not contain any fish or seafood.

Other traditions include the playing of drums by a group of men dressed in white, accompanied by another group singing joyful songs whilst moving to the rhythm of the drums. There are also various contests such as rowing and tug-of-war. The appearance of two men wearing black as a symbol for bandits, a wooden camel to carry off the booty, and a man disguised as a white bird signifying purity, are among the other aspects of these celebrations.

This multimedia report takes us to the sights and sounds of these colourful festivities of the island.

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