Sunday, August 13, 2006
One of the tourist sites here is Shiraz is the tomb of one of Iran's world famous poets, Hafiz. The marble tomb is under that circular canopy. On the underside of the canopy is tile work similar to that seen throughout Iran. Quite beautiful and very intricate. An interesting part of the "tourist" experience is the 2 or 3 men that hang around outside the entrance with little birds that pull out small colored sheets of paper from little tins. They're a bit like fortune cookies. On the papers are a snippet of Hafiz's poetryand sometimes a verse from the Quran. Between the two they give some vague indication of what your future may hold.
We're looking to be back in the states around the end of Sep. but may wait a week or so more as it would mean about $500 in saving on airline tickets during "low season." The downfall of this possiblity is that we would be traveling during Ramadan. Since we would be traveling, we wouldn't be fasting but would have to make up the day later. I was hoping for a couple of days to get settled before the beginning of Ramadan but we'll be doing everything at once this year.
For those that don't know-Ramadan is the month of fasting. From sunrise to sunset during 1 lunar month, muslims don't eat or drink anything, they are supposed to watch what they say and see (no lies or gossiping, not watching or listening to anything bad). The point behind Ramadan is to help you set aside worldly concerns and renew your spiritual side while reminding you first hand the hardships that far too many people on this planet endure everyday because of poverty or famine. The lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Roman calendar so Ramadan moves up a bit each year. When I first started fasting 11 years ago, Ramadan was in Feb.; this year it begins at the end of Sep. Young children, people who are sick or travelling and women who are pregnant or nursing are not required to fast. The beginning and ending of the month of Ramadan are determined by the sighting of the new moon. The end of Ramadan is marked by a celebration called Eid al-Fitr. On Eid, everyone gathers at the mosque for special prayers. (It looks alot like a church service during Christmas or Easter, where there are many new faces that are rarely ever seen during the rest of the year.) The kids all get gifts and most people wear new clothes and just generally celebrate. In bigger communities, there are usually festivals set up at convention centers or other large locations where there is a bazaar, games and rides for kids and plenty of food.