Ouraman Takht, a small town with a population of 2,000, lies near the city of Sarvabad in Kurdistan Province. It is known for its history, and for its Pir Shalyar ceremonies. Ouraman seems to be as old as time itself – documented sources date it back more than 1,300 years. Based on locals’ claims, the ceremony has been performed for nearly 900 years.
Every year in February, on the last Wednesday before the half-moon, the marriage of Pir Shalyar is re-enacted. This ceremony is one of the oldest traditional celebrations in Iran, and has its roots in mythological beliefs and ancient religions.
In the legends of the Ouraman people, there was a mythical character called Pir Shalyar, who had achieved special abilities through spiritual greatness. One of these, as told in a legend, was him curing Shah Bahar Khatun, the daughter of the king of Bukhara.
Attending the ancient ceremony is of great significance, and many tourists from Iran and abroad make their way to the city each year. Domestic and international photographers are on hand to capture the event.
This year, many photographers from all over Iran, as well as some from places like Spain, Ireland, Turkey and Iraq, descended on the town to witness the festivities.
The ceremony includes the sacrificing of sheep, playing the daf [a tambourine-like drum], special dancing, eating ash [a traditional stew], then reading poetry and praying during an overnight vigil.
Here are some photos from this year’s Pir Shalyar ceremony.