TEHRAN – Iranian celebrities including veteran actors Reza Babak and Reza Fayyazi have asked their fans to celebrate the Iranian tradition of Yalda Night without any gatherings as COVID-19 claims the lives of dozens of people per day in the country.
People on Yalda Night usually get together in the houses of grandparents and the elderly members of their families, where they are served with a hot dinner, fresh fruits and a mixture of dry fruits, seeds and nuts served in floral bowls.
Many people often recite poetry, narrate stories, chant, play musical instruments or just chat cozily until midnight.
Falling on December 20 this year, Yalda Night (Shab-e Yalda) needs the empathy of the Iranian nation in the fight against the coronavirus, as people should stay home, despite their important tradition.
Reza Babak has said that holding the celebration at home indicates the Iranian culture.
“I know that people will observe their own health beside the health of the others and will choose cyberspace to share their celebrations with family and friends as they celebrate this ancient and joyful night,” he said.
“The government also needs to enforce its rules to prevent people from getting together, and encourage people to stay at home so that we will witness the sun of health shining in our country and the world once again,” he added.
“After over nine months of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, the health care staff, nurses and doctors have been through hard days, indicating the fact that in order to defeat this disease we need to carry on with our humane mission,” he added.
“We are still mourning the loss of several of our dear friends and artists of the country, including (actors) Parviz Purhosseini and Karim Akbari Mobarakeh and (filmmakers) Khosro Sinai and Kambuzia Partovi, who died of COVID-19,” Babak said.
“Every one of them was a great treasure of Iranian art and culture. We need to take lessons from these bitter incidents, and do our best to observe the health protocols; and staying at home must be our first priority,” he said.
“If we do not observe the health protocols, the Yalda nights of the coming years will not bring us happiness,” he added.
Actor Reza Fayyazi for his part said that there is no doubt that getting together on Yalda night can bring happiness, but it will lead to a great loss with an unwanted guest like coronavirus.
“The truth is that getting together is very good and pleasing but we must know that this year this getting together might lead to the loss of our dear ones,” he said.
“It was few days ago when I heard the news of the death of Mohammad Afravi (director assistant) because of COVID-19 and I was all in tears the whole day after I heard the news,” he said.
“To be honest, I also miss being able to hug my brother, sister, friends and family, but what will be the cost, to lose them? So we have no other choice but to spend these hard days with more compassion and encouragement,” he added.
Fayyazi added that he and some of his friends at the Veteran Artists Institute have plans to share some live videos on Instagram such as reciting poetry of Hafez, and telling stories.
It can be said that Iranian families who have been involved with coronavirus infection must come to the conclusion that they will not get rid of the disease except by observing healthcare protocols and social distancing.
Photo: A Yalda Night spread.