Iran (Islamic Republic of) and Afghanistan
Inscribed in 2022 (17.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Yaldā/Chella refers to a traditional celebration of the sun and the warmth of life. Practiced in Iran and Afghanistan, the event takes place on the last night of autumn, when families gather at the houses of elders and sit around a table adorned with a series of symbolic objects and foods: a lamp to symbolize light, water to represent cleanliness, and red fruits such as pomegranates, watermelons, beetroots, jujube and grapes to symbolize warmth. Broth, sweets, dried fruits and nuts that are used specifically for the occasion are also set on the table and consumed during the gathering. Activities range from reciting poetry and storytelling to playing games and music and giving gifts to new in-laws, brides and children. The event celebrates cultural identity, nature, respect for women, friendship, hospitality, cultural diversity and peaceful coexistence. It is transmitted informally within families, although radio and television programmes, publications, social media and educational materials have also played an important role in transmitting the practice in recent years. Events, conferences, trainings, workshops and awareness-raising activities carried out by research centres, NGOs, cultural organizations and educational institutes have also had a significant impact on the proper transmission of the element to future generations.