Chaharshanbe Suri or the Scarlet Wednesday is an Iranian tradition festival celebrated by the people on Tuesday evening—on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Persian year. It is also the first festivity of the Nowruz celebrations festival.
A novel about this festival says that Siavosh—the symbol of honesty in Shahnameh (The Book of Kings, written by the legendary Iranian poet, Abolghassem Ferdowsi)—asked his father, Touran Shah, to blaze seven great fires to prove his innocence on the last Tuesday of the year. When Siavosh successfully passed through fires and defended his dignity, Touran Shah set up a great party across the country to honor his son a day later Wednesday.
In this context, the people of Iran mark Chaharshanbe Suri by jumping over the fire. “My yellowness—the sign of weakness, poverty, and scare—for you, your redness—the sign of power, welfare, and bravery—for me,” Iranians recite, addressing the fire as a purification practice.
Under the theocratic dictatorship, Iranian families use this festival as a means to vent their anger over tyranny. Despite the regime’s oppressive and propaganda measures, the people are more enthusiastic about marking this national celebration.
Iranians, particularly youths, set images and effigies of regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and regime president Ebrahim Raisi ablaze, showing their hatred against the entire ruling system. On March 1, the Social Headquarters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside Iran called on Iran’s youth and people to celebrate the Fire Festival and torch posters of Khamenei, and Raisi, as widely as possible.
Field reports say crowded cities such as Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Tabriz, Ahvaz, Shiraz, and other cities looked like battlefields, and youths pushed back security forces and intelligence agents in many districts.
“In Tehran, the people celebrated the Fire Festival with firecrackers in different areas,” reported PMOI/MEK on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. “The people also expressed their opposition to the regime by writing slogans on walls. In Tehran, graffiti on walls read, ‘Death to Khamenei, the puppet of Russia,’ referring to the regime’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
In northern Iran, residents of Gorgan and Rasht celebrated Chaharshanbe Suri with anti-regime slogans. “Death to Khamenei,” citizens chanted. They also burned the images of Khomeini, Khamenei, and Raisi.
“In Rasht, Resistance Units, the network of the MEK inside Iran, posted printed slogans on walls,” PMOI/MEK added. “‘Death to Khamenei. Death to Raisi, the butcher of the 1988 massacre. Viva Rajavi. Long live freedom,’ the posters read.”
Further reports show the people marked the Fire Festival in Tehran and its suburbs such as Ghaleh Hassan Khan, Shahr-e Ray, etc., as well as in Kermanshah, Qom, Zanjan, Isfahan, Azerbaijan, and even inside the notorious prison of Evin with anti-establishment activities and slogans.
“Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the dictator,” political prisoners chanted while jumping over the fire. “State Security Force put 20,000 of its forces on alert in Tehran alone,” said the opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on March 15. “Defiant youth in Tehran and cities throughout Iran torched photos and dummies of Khamenei and Khomeini during Fire Festival, chanting ‘Death to Khamenei, death to the dictator, hail to Rajavi.’”