Category Archives: Iranian Culture

The sum of who we are.

One Major Essay – Our Life Story

Each one of us has to write a major life story essay. What do I mean? Let me explain. Our Iranian culture has to share stories that help out our next generations to value what we are coming from. Every cultural group has to be able to share their experiences and life changing events with their next generations.

Our children can only make informed decisions in the future by knowing about our experiences.

There is one major essay each one of us is requested to write. The requirement is a discourse, a concept that our future generations are going to create.

This is a place where our shared beliefs and common interests will be evaluated in the intersection of our mistakes and life experiences. This is where we will be evaluated and discussed by our next generations. This is what history is about.

Our children, our grandchildren and our next generations will look back and wonder why in the world their previous generations did not do more to protect them from the harmful events that are happening in our history. This is the same dilemma we have right now, why our past generations did not inform us of how our fragile and vulnerable our culture was.

For sure, all the documentaries, movies, books, and accumulated electronic based data are doing this work for us. Still, each one of us is a living book.

There is a huge number of untold stories that we Iranian need to tell in order to get the truth come forward. Right now we may be confused and embarrassed about situations we have to endure. At the same time we are handling many balls in the air, an ability that make us survivors.

We owe our children the story of our lives, to let our next generation learn from our mistakes as well as our many rich experiences.

The amount of events that has made our Iranian life what it is now is too overwhelming, too painful, and too enmeshed to describe with one single essay. In any case we have to do this.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles August 2,2008 by this author.


Shahnameh – This Magnificent Piece of Testimony From the 10th Century

How could we Iranians miss Shahnameh? How have we Iranians and non-Iranians not learned from Shahnameh? How come Shahameh is not taught in every single school around the world? Why is this book not translated into every single language in the world?

These are the questions that anyone knowing about this great, magnificent, gigantic, and significant historic testimony called: Shahnameh, the Epic of the Kings, would ask. The quality of care for our human world is the main concept that can be learned from this marvelous story of life from the past.

What does this book symbolizes? Well, Story telling has a deep root in our Iranian culture, something that has helped our ancient culture survive all the attacks. Language is basically the heart of a culture, something that will survive along with a resilient culture. The art of story telling is most certainly passed down to us by Shahnameh. Geseh or saga assists us in making sense of the presence. How? Perhaps by realizing that the key to any problem is within us, we could make sense of what is occurring for us now. Stories tell us about how other people used their inner wisdom and inner strength to overcome challenges. Telling story for thousands of years has been the only way to transfer knowledge and information to next generations. Shahnameh, The Epic of the King is the best gathering of stories from one thousand years ago. In our childhood if we had the chance of hearing our grandparents reading stories from the Shahnameh, then we remember how we dreamed of becoming those great and brave heroes. Stories in Shahnameh describes life of many characters who can still be found in our real life.

Acknowledging and understanding this metaphoric communication that Shahnameh has taught us Iranians, we can recognize the the impact of childhood stories we have heard. Act of kindness, bravery, heoric actions, love for the mother earth, respect for animals and plants, hard work, and justice was only some of those values that Shahnameh tells us. I am sure we have not learned much from Shahnameh because our world is what it is today. Yet we should keep up the hope and relearn what was put together in this book for us. Now it is time we do this for our children. Even in our adult life we tell stories about various incidents every day.

People’s narratives tell us something important. We can understand the individual’s self-belief and perceptions through the lens of narratives. Families teach children this special social skill by telling them stories of how life looked like in their time. Now it is time for us to re-learn from Shahnameh and teach that to our children. I really wish Shahnameh would be taught in every single school in our world. Is it too selfish to wish?

My main interest is mental health and healthy relationship. I write mostly about how to explore mental health as a main source of having peace within our families and our communities.

I would like to promote peace, happiness, multicultural counseling and a healthy language in our daily life. I believe that we have to expand our understanding of mental health by viewing the cultural values into our ways of dealing with the world.

I like to emphasize on helping our youth as well as our next generations to integrate within whatever cultures they live in.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles May 2, 2009 by this author.


Survival of an Ancient Culture

Our Iranian community has an outstanding need to talk about a vast number of important issues. Victimization is one concept that we do not pay attention to, although all of us, many of us, a huge number of us, have been victims of crime, trauma, sexism, oppression, gender apartheid, racism, and violence one way or another.

We have carried out the heavy load of these crimes without any chance for addressing the pain and suffering associated with the years of trauma or harsh experiences. Those of us who have lived out of Iran for a long time, we know that we can never stop thinking about who we are. How many times you have wished to be someone else, belong to another continent or another planet? It is hard to be Iranian. It is hard to have a heart for what is going on. Still we have to survive. Our culture has to survive as it always has made it.

Despite all the pain and suffering that exist inside our communities, we have never been told that we are not to blame. We have never learned that victims are not to blame.

We constantly are blamed for various things. We continuously look back to understand what happened to us and even to make sense of the nonsense in our home country. Some of us are smarter than others; some of us are more privileged than others, still we need to ask ourselves, what about the masses? What about those who have lost their strength and hope? We know that humanity and human rights is a strong agency, still we have nowhere to turn to help ourselves. Our culture has survived centuries of attack and we still need to keep it alive.

Each of us has stories of embarrassment, of humiliation, of hurt by people who use their selfishness to tell us how we should be. Times have changed. We need to speak out loud about the impact of victimization on our physical, mental, and psychological being.

Mental health issues in our Iranian community are mostly due to the old and constant emotional pain that has never been acknowledged.

Some of us try to find simple answers to the tough question of what is happening with our Iranian way of life. How do we interact with the world? Where is our personal and national growth? We can not find those answers anywhere; still we have to survive this sense of ambiguity.

Talking about national growth, most of us is mortified and frustrated about what is going on, we ask: why us?

Whatever happens, we still have to survive, we need to spread the language of love, joy, help, altruism, forgiveness, humanity, justice, and respect. These are at least those cultural traits that we were raised with, for sure many of us.

In any case, we have to let go of our egos. We are fighting in the name of this and that religion, ideal, belief, and political interest instead of working for and with our commonalities. Why is that?

For sure, we are survivors; our history is about survival and coping. We have existed and we continue to exist. We need to pass on the culture of survival instead of the culture of victimization. This is for sure.

A true, genuine and multifaceted help comes with our willingness and efforts. We need to learn our own history again. We need to find those positive sources of knowledge and logic so that we can rewrite our history based on what we know now. We were taught as children that kindness, love, and respect are invaluable.

Where is that kindness, love, and respect?

We Iranian are exhausted; we are tired of all the news about the impossible life back home. Despite the impossibilities we survive and we will survive, our culture is the only weapon we have got left.

What we need to is to learn healthy survival mechanisms and healthy coping strategies.

We need peace: peace in our language, peace in our actions, peace in our thoughts, peace in our behaviors, peace in our families, peace in our hearts. Enough is enough. We can not afford losing more of our dignity. We should be able to discuss these issues without continuing what our masters have tried to teach us. We can not copy their intolerance and hatred. We can not internalize loss and grief any more. We have to learn to be open-minded and practice new skills such as listening skills. How about that?

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles June 26th, 2008 by this author.


Idendity Crisis

A couple of years ago, we were looking for a rental place. During our search, we found one place that seemed to be appropriate. After the regular arrangements, we went to see the suit that was for rent. Due to our phone contact, we learned that the owner was Iranian. We arrived on time. We rang the door bell. Soon, the entrance door was opened by a middle age man who did not waste any time to introduce himself. In that short moment of introduction, we were able to observe something extraordinary. As soon as he opened his mouth until he stopped talking, we found out some overwhelming detailed information about this man. He told us his first name, his last name, his complete titles and his professional work back in Tehran. He said: Hi, I am Mr X-Y, professor in psychology, neurology, and brain surgery from University Z…in Tehran.

After last word, we were hesitant what to say. In my mind I was checking whether we were at the right address. It took us a short moment to catch our breath and realize that we were not in a hospital and we did not ask for any brain surgery. The owner invited us in. We entered to the hall way, while still feeling there was something odd with this man. We looked at the renting suit; however there was something about this man I did not like. I think he mentioned that his wife was back in Iran and he had to go back to take care of his clinic. For some reason, I felt bad for his wife. I pictured his wife suffering in a relationship where this man tried to be the Mr. Doctor X. I do not know why my impression of this man was this negative. I remember I thought, just because he had presented himself in a way to brag about his background, I could not dismiss him.

I did feel bad for him too. How come he needed to tell us who he was? We were there to just rent a basement suit. I had never met someone who would present himself with his entire profession. We ended up not renting his place; however, I am still thinking why this man introduced himself that way.

Obviously for Mr. Doctor X., it was very important to let us know who he was. But, did it matter really? It did not matter to us.

I came to think of our Iranian grocery store in our neighborhood, where the owner greets every single customer with names such as: Doctor or engineers. “Hi, Mr. Doctor or Mrs Engineer.” Even saying this in English, it becomes double weird.

I know many people loving his way of greetings, why, maybe because they feel like becoming someone with those titles.

What is really going on? Why do we need to show one another who we are? Can we not just be a person in our day to day meetings?

We Iranian know of the culture of pose or the culture of showing off.

How come having labels and status is this important for some of us?

Why is it that we are not able to let go of positions, status, labels, and masks? I am sure this man was a doctor or something, yet, in my view, he was no better than anyone else. He was just a person lost in his own label.

It is certainly my belief that healthy communication is the main step toward rebuilding what has been destroyed over decades.

I believe that we Iranian need to challenge our beliefs by analyzing our own culture, the ways in which we find our strength and also how it hinders us from self-development.

Our next generations could adjust better in their walks of life, if we can offer them a thorough and honest analysis of what has made us to be where we are now.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles November 5th, 2008 by this author.


Culture is Our Only Weapon

Culture is the implicit and explicit manifestation of our shared values, ideas, belief systems, and identity. Our Iranian culture has always been part of what we do, how we think, how we behave, and how we feel.

After three decades of living in paradoxes, we Iranian (many of us) are now learning gradually to respect our shared culture with celebrating it proudly.

Slowly but constantly we are trying to set aside our personal and biased opinions to the benefit of participating around a greater truth, the truth of co-existence. We are conceptualizing our own history with baby steps and learning to appreciate our past instead of condoning it. The external circumstances about our home country however make us doubt what we do and who we are.

We Iranians are aware of the call for a change however; this change has to happen within us, in each one of us. This is a unique historic period we find ourselves in as we are shifting, experiencing, forming, and reforming our culture and our identity. We have to be brave to recognize our areas of strength and weaknesses.

Change is about discovering and building a healthy identity, a sense of belonging, and a sense of partnership.

After three decades and many chapters of life in migration we (many of us) have started to realize that fighting does not work. We lost our mind once we lost our tolerance. We already experience the damages of lack of tolerance and our lives have been impacted deeply because of this issue. Now it is time to really learn who we are.

We share experiences of internalized discrimination and externalized dislocation, while we are sincerely noticing our own culture, something that has been passed on to us for over two thousand year; The culture of celebrations and appreciations of health, happiness, and prosperity.

Our cultural attitudes are now crossing the intersections of our Iranian lives. The culture of respect and love for our nature is part of what we celebrate as Nouroz; the love for spring, for sun shine, for fire, for water, for flowers, for new birth, and for mother earth.

We experience our culture more than ever; just look around and see how many of us participate in various events. Everywhere we are we celebrate our festivities with the support of the freedom we experience in countries we live in. There are many reasons to be grateful for the level of acknowledgment of our shared culture, the Persian culture that has survived and will survive all the attacks of those who blindly are opposing it.

Now more than ever, we are appreciating our culture as being a tool for us, not an excuse. We are now noticing that the only weapon we have is our culture.

We need this weapon to fight the darkness that the enemies of happiness try to cover us with. We have got only our culture to survive with, to be part of the future, and to continue endlessly.

The time around February and March every year, we usually witness several cultural events that we Iranian participate in. This happens everywhere we are, we tend to find resources to keep up our traditions.

We may agree that all these congregations of our Iranian population articulate the notion of dignity, cultural appreciation, and respectful maneuvers for who we are and who we have lost to be.

These gatherings for no means represent a unified culture just because we Iranian are multicultural and multi-ethnical groups of people, however it is part of a greater social context, the survival of a culture.

The audience and the participants of all these events share their joy with the others who are interested and the history.

These festivities and celebration give us the time and the opportunity to validate, to acknowledge, and to appreciate Iranian culture and Iranian living, around the world. We need more well-planned plays, dances, poetry-nights, literature review, and all kind of gathering as a real proof for the strength of a culture that has been under attack for centuries.

We should inspire ourselves and our next generations with facilitating open and healthy conversations about what is the most important aspect of being Iranian, the sense of encouragement that comes with spring and our new year.

Close to the March 21st every year we Iranian around the world look forward to join one or several festivities and ceremonies where a large group of us celebrate Iranian new years. This event has a clear message, an exceptional acknowledgment of our Iranian way of living which is based on socialization with others. The sense of appreciation and recognition of who we are does come with how we are trying to be part of the life within every community we live.

If our own government works hard to make life a miserable ground for its citizens, everywhere we Iranian are, outside of our home country we are being appreciated for the hard working and creative group of people we undeniably are.

The notion of acknowledgment for who we are, not what we do, this is the clear message that we should protect and pass on. These celebrations are emphasizing how we need to appreciate life and culture as if it is going to end tomorrow. This is what life should be about, living in the moment. Our culture has always been a here and now concept, yet, we have been dragged to look back instead of looking forward.

Now it is time to change. Our Iranian New Year is about the New Year, the new days, and the new life that is growing with spring.

It is significant to value our Persian heritage and our culturally significant Iranian new year as a notion of peace. Our ancestors did go visit people whom they had not seen for a long time, as a way of making peace with those whom they disliked or disagreed with.

Fire Jumping or Chahar-Shanbe-sori is also another significant event that many of us participate in every year.

On this day everywhere we are, there is a sort of excitement in the air. Our Chahar-shanbe-sori is one of those main events we have to look at closely. The last Tuesday evening of the Iranian year is the time of the year that we appreciate fire bones and fire. Traditionally, we Iranian ask the fire to offer us its healthy look, its warmth, and its strength. This evening on the last Tuesday night of the year, last week before March 21st is the live play of many of our Iranian men and women, young as old, which comes out to jump over fire and to say that they are still alive.

This gathering is the perfect proof that a culture can not be killed or censured, a culture is alive once people stand on their two feet.

Every year this gathering happens around the world in harmony, peace, congruency, and artfully.

Young children as well as elderly people all leap over the bone fires while wishing health and happiness from the fire. One asks for the redness of the fire while giving one’s paleness of to the fire. This happens while the fire does accept our paleness with no complaint. The fire has the strength to remove our paleness with its own redness. The beauty of this event is the powerful bonfires that light our life and give hope to the masses.

This event as many of other cultural gatherings are the proof for our collective desire, that we love to be happy and we love to be alive.

Every year, watching these ceremonies with a participant-observant position, I keep thinking that we should keep up this good work of passing on this notion of health and happiness to our next generations.

This is about a nation in change, re-evaluation, and refreshing of their culture. Culture is the only weapon we have and we are doomed to keep it alive. We have no other choice.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticlesJune 16th, 2008 by this author.


Imposed Culture of Grief

To investigate our Iranian mind we need to recognize some important factors. A general emotional discomfort is what we clinicians see going on among our people from Iran. Why? Well, there are thousands of reasons, to explore one of them we can talk about the prevailing existence of grief in our culture.

Grief, sorrow, pain, nostalgia, feeling of loss, and feeling of inferiority has become on major part of our now shifted and manipulated Iranian culture.

As far as we Iranians can recall, we have a history of festivities, laughter, dance and music, family gatherings, and sharing of good moments together. However since some hundred years ago, some people brought in and injected this poisonous culture of grief into our national blood. Grieving for this and that dead person belonging to some hundred years ago has become a routine. Keeping the feelings of pain, sadness, anger, and discomfort have become a way of living.

Life and death have been woven together really hard, with almost no difference at between what is what The sense of being alive, happy, independent, creative, interested, or worthy all are just blurry western ideas for many millions of us. People are leaving their homes, loved ones, cities, and memories because they are fleeing horrible inhuman life conditions in our home country. The recent wave of immigration among our people are really concerning. What is going on? We keep hearing sad and bad news from Iran; something that drain our energies and leave us more with a sense of grief over a lost life back home. What is really going on? When will we witness some joy? When is enough really enough?

Note: This article was also published in EzineArticles September 18th, 2010 by this author.


Happy 13-Bedar

We Iranians  and all of us who celebrate Nouroz, we welcome 13-Bedar by having a day of fun.  Basically what we do is we enjoy spring weather and we finalize our festivities of Nouroz with 13-Bedar; d ay of connecting to the nature, having family time, and enjoy our healthy style of life.

13-Bedar for sure is a day of fresh air, good food, and laughter while being out there in form of a picnic.

This tradition is secular as much as our Nouroz is, we go out, and we take our body, soul, and mind to the mother earth.  We take our planted grass and we leave it to following water such as a river. In this way we return the grass to nature, where it belongs. We help the nature and we take care of it.
This one day of picnic is part of a cultural heritage that has been appreciated and practiced for thousands year.

13-Bedar is a day for promoting health, happiness, and family gathering.  This is a day when we meet our future days in spring and the rest of the year with respecting our outdoor live.
This is a beautiful ritual and we greet one another by saying; HAPPY 13-BEDAR.

April 5, 2009-04-05
Poran Poregbal


Barometer for Our Ancient Culture

Years ago, I read an interesting quote whose author said that women are barometer for democracy in a country.   Now we may be able to argue that Nouroz is the barometer for our old ancient Persian culture.   Yes, I believe we can say that.   Just the fact that people keep enjoying this big event of the year, whether they live in Iran or around the world, we can appreciate survival of a culture that has been attached over the centuries.   All our great poets and philosophers such as Ferdowsi, Molana, Saadi, Khayam, and Hafez all have emphasized on Nouroz as a celebration of spring with the promise of new days.

Just surfing the internet, it is most exciting to see all the festivities and celebration of Nouroz by Iranian and people who are connected to this ancient Persian culture.  Nouroz is now not only being celebrated in Iran, but in many other countries and by many other nations who are somehow fascinated about  this beautiful, secular, and lively tradition.
Nouroz is really out of the ordinary, optimistic, and inclusive tradition.

Proudly we can learn from the history confirming how this culture based on validation of happiness has been handed over to us.  Although for many of us Iranians who have lived out of our home country for a longer time, Nouroz does not smell the old days we used to celebrate this tradition; still our hearts beat faster around this time of year.  Who can forget all the shopping for new clothes, new shoes, and new accessories along with goodies, fruits, and good food for these 13 days of festivity?  Still, we need to keep acknowledging spring and Nouroz. Still we have to do what our ancestors wanted us to do, to keep our culture alive; culture of peace and happiness.

Day 5 of Nouroz
Poran Poregbal


Sofreh Haft-Sin

Softfreh Haft-Sin: Sir, Somag, Senjed, Sabzeh, Samanou, Sib, Serkeh.

This is a collection of seven objects that in our culture represent the coming spring for us.  These objects have symbolical meaning and metaphorical value for our tradition.  It is incredible that each one of these objects has something to do with health and longevity. Just considering the meaning behind this gathering of unrelated things, we can appreciate the connection of Nouroz to a pragmatic and optimistic style of life.  This is amazing how much this tradition is secular, hopeful, and holistic.
Significantly we add several other things such as Sekeh, Samavar, Sonbol in addition to mirror and candles.

Five days left to Nouroz

Poran Poregbal


Nouroz Is A Style of Life

Did va bazdid = visit and re-visit

Nouroz is the time and visiting and re-visiting our loved ones while opening our doors to those who want to pay respect to us.
The beauty of Nouroz is the promise of a new year intertwined with new relationships.  The New Year and new life however require strengthening our old bonds as well as make new ones.  Nouroz is the natural drive and the health based motivation for keeping friendships alive.   We learn from our ancestors to visit elders or those we have not seen for a while.  In this ceremony we make the actual physical move to go and meet our loved ones.  The dynamic of visiting and revisiting our family, friends, and our acquaintances, has a peace promoting message.  The idea behind these Nouroz family gathering is to resolve any implicit conflict from the previous year and to create new bonds.

We have visits and we go back to revisit the same people, because this is only respectful to do so. Besides we make sure that we have paid our debt of receiving friendship.   We have to offer our alliance to people by making the effort and visit them in their home.  This thousand of year tradition is being kept alive by continuing the message of Nouroz, the notion of peace and real cheerfulness.

Five days left to Nouroz

Poran Poregbal