Chaharshanbe Suri, the Zoroastrian festival of fire, was observed in Iran on the evening of Tuesday, March 13 (local time). Related celebrations left at least four people dead and 3450 injured; revelers reportedly launched fireworks and hurled bottles filled with gasoline into fires, causing explosions.
Additional public celebrations, associated transportation and commercial disruptions, and a heightened security presence are expected in Iran during the upcoming Nowruz (Iranian New Year) holiday, annually observed on March 21 with related festivities lasting for 13 days.
Chaharshanbe Suri is annually celebrated on the Tuesday evening preceding the last Wednesday before Nowruz. Celebrants often ritualistically jump over small fires during the holiday. According to Zoroastrian tradition, jumping over the fire, representing God's wisdom, rids an individual of bad luck in advance of the new year (Nowruz).
Nowruz is annually celebrated in Farsi-speaking countries - including Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and parts of Pakistan - and in associated diaspora and some Kurdish communities on March 21. It is a 13-day celebration that involves dinners, family visits, and recitations of poetry. Some cities also host festivals in the streets.
Increased security and travel disruptions should be anticipated in Tehran and other major cities during Nowruz celebrations.
Individuals present in Iran should remain vigilant and report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. Always be on guard when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted in an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.). Travelers should note that some Western governments advise their citizens against nonessential travel to certain areas of the country, including zones adjacent to the Afghan, Pakistani, and Iraqi borders.
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