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Mashhad Ardahaal

the qaalishouyan ceremony

In this article, we introduce to you the Iranian village Mashhad Ardahaal which is famous for a traditional religious ceremony called Qaalishouyan. The Qaalishouyan ceremony is registered in Iran's list of Spiritual Heritage.

Mashhad Ardahaal is located near Niasar town in Esfahan province. It is located in an altitude of 1825 meters above the sea level and has a moderate weather. The language spoken in Mashhad Ardehaal is Farsi and it has a population of about 2000 people. According to the residents of Mashhad Ardahaal this village is also known as Mashhad-e-qaali.

Because of being located in a mountainous area, this village has a dense residential texture and the houses are usually built very close to each other. Being situated on a mountain slope and also near the desert's margin the village has a specific architectural style. Some of the specifications of the desert style architecture in the houses of this village are: adobe, thick walls, central yard, garden, pool, porch, pores, and the fact that most houses face the south. Wood, brick, and stone are the main materials used for the construction of the buildings in Mashhad Ardahaal but modern construction materials are also used for building newer houses.

Most of the villagers work in the fields of agriculture and gardening while some of them make handicrafts. We can name wheat, barley, grains, walnut, and almond as the most important agricultural products of the village. Carpet-weaving is the most important handicraft which is mostly done by women and girls; the carpets woven in this village follow the pattern of Kashan carpets. In addition to the aforementioned jobs, some of the residents of Mashhad Ardahaal are active in providing service; for this region is annually visited by tourists from all over the country thanks to its natural, historic, and religious attractions.

Mashhad Ardahaal's tourist attractions can be taken into consideration from several points of view. The location of this village on the desert's margin, the panorama of the endless desert and its starry sky, together with gardens and green farms inside the village, have made it so outstanding that many desert-goers are drawn to the village every year.

Mashhad Ardahaal complex is a famous building in which the holy tomb of Soltan Ali-ebne Imam Muhammad Baqir, a descendant of the prophet of Islam Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him and his progeny), is placed. This building has been built upon the order of Majd-eddin Obeydollah Kashani; and during the Safavid and Qajar eras was repaired and some other buildings were added to it. Because of the martyrdom of Soltan Ali, son of the 5th infallible successor of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Muhammad Baqir (A.S) in Ardahaal, this village is called Mashhad-e Ardahaal or Mashhad-e Soltan Ali. [Mashhad means the place of martyrdom].

Among other tourist attractions of the village there are three old castles with defensive function. The tomb of great Iranian contemporary poet and painter, Sohrab Sepehri, is also located in Mashhad Ardahaal which in turn draws considerable number of tourists to this village.

As mentioned above, what is most effective on attracting tourists to Mashhad Ardahaal village is a religious ceremony held in there every year. This religious ceremony, called Qaalishouyan, is held yearly on the second Friday of Mehr month-approximately corresponding to September- at the mausoleum of Imamzadeh Soltan Ali.

This mausoleum has a spectacular shrine and dome with golden tile-work and blue minarets. It is recorded in history that in the early 2nd century A.H., upon the invitation of people of Feen and Kashan, Imam Muhammad Baqir (PBUH) sent his son, Ali, to this region to propagate Islam and guide the people. Sultan Ali spent three years guiding the people of this region towards Islam till the time his presence and popularity became known to one of the Omayad governors who at that time unrightfully ruled over Qom. That ruler raised and deployed an army to murder Soltan Ali in the year 106 A.H. which led to the martyrdom of Soltan Ali and his companions in Ardahaal. Upon receiving the news, the people of Feen departed for Ardahaal to assist Soltan Ali, but they were too late and Soltan Ali was martyred. They wrapped a carpet around him, washed him in a near stream and buried him. Since those days, the traditional ceremony of Qaalishouyan is held each year on the second Friday of Mehr with thousands of people of Feen and Kashan attending it.

On the day of Qaalishouyan, many people gather in Ardahaal to attend the symbolic ceremony of washing the dead body of Imamzadeh or the son of Imam Baqir (A.S). The residents of the Feen village of Kashan and some other villages carry out this traditional ceremony. During this ceremony, a carpet is taken from inside the shrine of Imamzadeh, it is rolled and put over the youths' shoulders and then it is carried to a spring some hundreds of meters east of the holy shrine. Having long wooden staffs in hand, another group of people follow them and symbolically fight the murderers of Imamzadeh by moving the staffs in the air. The carpet is put down next to the spring and spring water is poured onto it as a symbolic show of washing the body of Imamzadeh. Then the carpet is brought back to the shrine among ardent emotions and sentiments.

As mentioned before, the martyrdom of Imamzadeh Soltan Ali took place in the year 106 A.H. The people living in the margin of desert have taken advantage of the elements of the epic of Imam Hussein's martyrdom in Karbala to tell an epical narrative of Imamazadeh Soltan Ali's migration to Ardahaal and his martyrdom. Each year on the martyrdom anniversary of this Imamzadeh, the story is retold in a set of Iranian traditions during his symbolic burial service.

Source: irib.ir

Other links:

Esfahan, The Second Heaven

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