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Shangri La Stories

Stories from the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

Stories from the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

Shab-e Yaldā

The night of December 21st (in conjunction with the winter solstice) marks the beginning of the Persian celebration Shab-e Yaldā! In celebration of Shab-e Yaldā we are sharing a time-lapse video of Shangri La from night into day with audio from 2013 Artist-in-Residence, Kayhan Kalhor‘s performance at Shangri La. The time-lapse filmed by Gerard Elmore.

Shab-e Yaldā, also known as Yalda Night, is an ancient Persian festival celebrated on the “longest and darkest night of the year,” the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice. It is celebrated in Iran as well as other countries like Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The event marks the last night of autumn and the arrival of winter, and it is a time when friends and family gather to eat, drink, play music and read poetry, particularly the works of the Persian poet Hafez, until well after midnight. Symbolic foods traditionally eaten on this night are pomegranates and watermelons, representing the dawn of life and the glow of sunrise.

Shab-e Yaldā is rich with history and is associated with the triumph of light over dark and the renewal of the Sun. People stay up late celebrating with family and friends to support the sun in its toughest battle against darkness on this longest night of the year.

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