The 40th day of winter: Kurdistan Celebrates Pir Shaliar – in pictures

The festival of Pir Shalyar is an old traditional ceremony in Kurdistan associated with the pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian times. It is held on the 40th day of winter. 

Pir (also translated as saint), Shaliyar is believed to have cured the daughter of the king of Bukhara; the ceremony intends to mark their marriage.

Uraman Takht, the city hosting the festival, is located in the eastern part of Marivan, Kurdistan.

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The Kulla Ball is a vest that is made of fleece and does not require sewing. This vest dates back several thousand years in the history of Horaman. In Horaman, if a ruler was powerful yet just, the men wore kulla balls without ears (shoulder pads), but if the ruler deviated and did not serve the land and its people, the men wore kulla balls with earmuffs and demanded to overthrow the throne. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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The men are tired of years of war with Iraq and all that it entails. Each of them harbour stories of war and captivity in their chests. Under the warm sun, they review their memories together. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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Daf musicians and reciters for the commemoration of Pir Shaliar’s wedding celebration. This ceremony is annually performed over the span of three days. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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Reading prayers from an electronic tablet near a holy house. The man says he loves technology because he no longer needs his glasses since he can simply enlarge the text. He is still young at heart and proves this with a wink. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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On the commemoration of Pir Shaliar’s wedding day, men and children gather from the early morning to the afternoon on the rooftops and terraces. Women simply watch the religious ceremonies from behind windows in their homes. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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An elderly man is padding horse and donkey saddles with fleece. Colloquially, they are referred to as four-legged tailors. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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The dance of Hal Bareke is held during the celebrations in Horaman. This dance is a symbol of prayers and supplications performed by dervishes. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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Behind a curtain in a small room, a man is sitting on a bare floor with two different saws and sandpaper. He is making hair combs with little pieces of wood which his eldest son puts on his shoulders and takes to town to sell at the end of each month. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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An old lady is saying her prayers with a rosary. With a kind look on her face, she wants me to take a picture of her. When I show her the photo on the camera monitor, she tells me that her eyesight is too weak for her to see the photo, but she encourages me to continue being happy, claiming that she can see that! Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.
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Rojin is a beautiful and kind girl. She loves the color blue and wants to become a teacher in the future. Photo by Anahita Ahamdi.

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