Thousands injured amid Iran’s year-end ‘fire festival’ celebrations


The customary “festival of fire” celebrated across Iran on the final Wednesday of the Iranian calendar year ending March 20 once more descended into sorrow and despair for many revelers as many lost their lives, had their organs removed, or suffered severe burns.

At the weeks-long Chaharshanbe Suri celebrations that culminated on Wednesday, over 4,300 people were injured, largely by homemade bombs, and at least 26 people died.

In his statements on Wednesday, Jafar Miadfar, the president of Iran’s National Medical Emergency Organization, stated that 26 people had died and 4,368 had been injured this year, which represents a 22% rise in festival-related casualties from the previous year.

According to local health experts, Tehran, the country’s capital, saw the most deaths and injuries. The 2,500-year-old yearly event has its origins in pre-Islamic Iran, when Zoroastrianism predominated as the local religion.

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Chahashanbe Suri, which translates to “Red Wednesday” or “Wednesday Celebration” in Persian, is the final Wednesday before Nevruz, the Iranian new year that begins on March 21.

Nonetheless, weeks in advance, preparations for the celebration start, including the manufacture of firecrackers and homemade explosives. On the festival night, revelers take to the streets to jump and dance around bonfires that have been built in the streets and other public areas, burst firecrackers, and use other explosives.

The ancient holiday, he continued, has recently “lost its gloss” as a result of sad events that have resulted in thousands of fatalities and injuries.

Miadfar added that about 80% of the fatalities occurred on Tuesday night, with Tehran, Tabriz, Hamedan, Qazvin, and Kerman reporting the majority of cases.

According to official data, 79% of victims were men, 21% were women, and 44% were children between the ages of 6 and 18, many of whom were hospitalized.

At least 229 persons had their limbs amputated, 1,357 suffered eye injuries, and 867 received serious burns out of the total injured people.

While medical personnel had been placed on high alert, at least seven ambulances were also destroyed on Tuesday night, including three in Tehran, three in Kerman, and one in Qom.

According to some sources, three siblings were severely hurt on Tuesday night in the central city of Qom by an explosive-filled bag, with one of them sustaining 90% burns.

According to police officials, more dangerous devices were found and seized this year compared to previous years, and hundreds of people were questioned in several places.

This year, the Intelligence Ministry of Iran released a statement on the eve of the festival announcing the finding of “sabotage networks and explosives,” including hand grenades and homemade mortars.

Tehran police head Abbasali Mohammadian reported that at least eight persons were detained on Tuesday night for the creation and use of dangerous devices during celebrations.



Raven Ruma is a professional journalist with a keen eye on domestic and foreign situations. His favorite pastime is to keep the public informed about the current situation through his pen and he is fulfilling this responsibility through the platform of Arab News.

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