Social Media Calls for Simple ‘Chaharshanbe Suri’

Social Media Calls for Simple ‘Chaharshanbe Suri’ Social Media Calls for Simple ‘Chaharshanbe Suri’

In the past few days a text message has been circulating in the social media networks urging people to boycott Chinese firecrackers and explosive materials while observing ‘Chaharshanbe Suri,’ which is round the corner.

The last Tuesday of every outgoing Iranian year is known as ‘Chaharshanbe Suri’ or ‘Red Wednesday’, and celebrated by Iranians by lighting bonfires in the streets and jumping over them “to shake off the darkness of winter and welcome the lightness of spring,” a Persian ritual passed down since ancient Zoroastrian times to welcome the New Persian Year ‘Nowruz’ (starts March 20).

Chaharshanbeh Suri, literally the ‘Eve of Wednesday,’ is always held on the last Tuesday of winter, a few days before the Vernal Equinox or the start of spring.

The message further states that small bonfires can be lit in the streets to jump over, and the ancient Persian ritual should be observed as it used to be centuries ago, in a simple way. “The main aim of the festival is to cleanse the misfortunes and impurities of the past year and welcome the New Year with good health and happiness and not with burn injuries, as is often the case with dangerous firecrackers. All children must be made aware of the risks.”

A campaign to boycott firecrackers has also been started to raise people’s awareness about the harm such explosive materials can cause, Khabaronline reported.  

Unfortunately, the ancient tradition has transformed over time from a simple bonfire to the use of firecrackers and explosive materials that cause grievous injuries in many instances.

According to official figures, 2,700 people were admitted to the emergency burns centers in 2014 and firecrackers fatally injured four people.

The number of victims of burns injuries indicated a 250% increase compared to the year 2000, when there were three deaths and 421 moderate and 22 severe injuries.

This year, the first incident has already occurred, long before the festival was due, when a blast destroyed a two-story building stored with explosives and dangerous materials on January 30.

 Arrests Made

Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari announced recently that “like in the previous years, we will take legal action against those who disturb peace, and detain offenders till April 1,” when the Nowruz holidays end.

General Yahya Sharafi, head of the Crime Prevention Department, said that during the current year, 1,355 persons were arrested in connection with smuggling of explosive substances, including 611 in the past month.”

“In the first 11 months of the current year, 5,634 kilograms of explosive materials were seized.”

If people avoid crackers it would not only prevent injuries but also help check noise and air pollution, he said, and urged parents to be vigilant over their children and prohibit them from contact with dangerous firecrackers.

As the average age of the victims of burn injuries is usually between 13 and 18 years, it is necessary to increase young people’s awareness of the dangers of playing with fireworks and explosive materials.  

The Education Ministry has chalked out a plan to help prevent burns injuries during the festival and all schools have been directed to invite fire experts for a week before the ritual and speak to students about the dangers of explosive materials and firecrackers.

Fire experts have warned that illegal firecrackers can cause death and grievous harm.