TEHRAN – Lorestan is preparing to host its fifth edition of the tribal festival aimed at contributing to the development of tourism in Iran’s western province.
“The 5th Ethnic Culture Festival will be held at the historic Falak-ol-Aflak complex from May 8 to 12,” CHTN said on Saturday, citing the provincial tourism chief.
“Viewed as a great opportunity to harness tourism (battered by the coronavirus), the event will focus on traditional music and rituals, dishes, handicrafts and souvenirs,” Seyyed Amin Qasemi explained.
The event also provided booths and special booths for tourism insiders and tour operators, the official noted.
Qasemi said last August that tourism in Lorestan had suffered a loss of some 5.3 trillion rials since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many measures have been taken in the tourism sector to minimize the damage caused by the virus, including postponing the payment of taxes including income tax and VAT in installments, Qasemi said.
Home to various nomadic and tribal communities, Lorestan was inhabited by Iranian Indo-European peoples, including the Medes, c. 1000 BC. The Cimmerians and Scythians ruled the region intermittently from around 700 to 625 BC. The Luristan (Lorestan) bronzes, known for their eclectic array of Assyrian, Babylonian and Iranian artistic motifs, date from this turbulent period.
Additionally, Lorestan was incorporated into the growing Achaemenid Empire around 540 BC and successively became part of the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian dynasties.
Nomads and tribal tourism
Tribal tourism, also known as ethno-tourism or ethnic tourism, allows potential tourists to feel like natives by living with a nomadic or rural family or enjoying an independent stay. However, as the name suggests, this is a recreational trip rather than an anthropological research expedition.
Experts say that this branch of tourism has gained a lot of support and attention in the country over the past couple of years. Many tour operators believe that the tribal areas could be considered the heritage of human authenticity in their new cultural and human aspects.
Iran has a culturally diverse society dominated by a wide range of inter-ethnic relations. Native speakers of Persian (Farsi language) are considered the predominant ethnicity generally of mixed ancestry, and the country has significant Turkish, Kurdish and Arab elements in addition to Lurs, Baloch, Bakhtiari and other minorities smaller ones such as Armenians, Assyrians, and Jews.
The Persians, Kurds, and speakers of other Indo-European languages in Iran are the descendants of Aryan tribes who began migrating from Central Asia into what is now Iran in the second millennium BCE.
Besides the modern roads, highways and bridges that are ubiquitous in modern Iran, there are still arduous paths, flattened by the feet of nomads and the hooves of their cattle in the endlessly repeated movement of migration for millennia.
Migration is a way of life for nomads as cattle herding is their main source of income. In the spring, they head with all their belongings to cooler pastures, usually on the mountainside, where grass is plentiful for their flocks of sheep and goats. And in the fall, they return to the previous tropical plains as their well-fed cattle grow stronger to endure the winter.
Accompanying nomads during their migration, even for a day or two, can be an unforgettable experience. As a traveler, one has the chance to visit, live, eat and sleep in a nomadic camp with a real nomadic family. Colorful dresses, vast black tents, colorful-eyed children with rosy cheeks, a modest lifestyle, a picturesque landscape and local dishes are probably some of the delights of such visits.
Indigenous language, music, cuisine, clothing, songs, anecdotes, crafts, performances and local rituals such as celebrations and wedding ceremonies have always inspired many people to experience life among the tribes.
According to data compiled by the Nomadic Affairs Organization of Iran, the country’s nomadic inhabitants fell from 38.6% of the entire Iranian population in 1245 (1866) to 9.6% in 1345 (1966) and around 1% now. . And nomads and tribes are found in all Iranian provinces except Kordestan.
Statistics suggest that Iranian nomads are somehow disappearing over time. A short answer might be that modern life is attracting new generations to big cities for a more relaxed lifestyle and even higher education. Many young people have left behind struggles with the grueling labors of nomadic life that sometimes mix with drought and dust storms.
Nowadays, the traces of modern life are unmistakable in the lives of the survivors of the ancient land. However, many Iranian nomads have long resisted modernity through isolation, a result of their way of life, deep traditions and patriarchy.
The majority of Iranian nomads use mobile internet, cell phones, etc. for they always set up their tents on the sides of the snow-capped mountains. And these days, rental cars and trucks, rather than domestic animals, take them, their herds, to high pastures in the highlands and vice versa.
Many nomads surprise visitors with the dignity of their rough, overworked hands and the integrity of their compassionate eyes at first sight. In popular Iranian culture, literature and public opinion, nomads have always been a proud part of the nation.