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 Mohammad 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
Mohammad, Imam Mohammad 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 Imam
Zadeh 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 Mohammad Baqir (A.S.) 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 Imam Zadeh 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 Imam Zadeh, 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 Imam Zadeh 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 Imam Zadeh. Then the carpet is
brought back to the shrine among ardent emotions and sentiments.
As mentioned before, the martyrdom of Imam Zadeh 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 Imam Zadeh Soltan Ali's migration to Ardahaal and his
martyrdom. Each year on the martyrdom anniversary of this Imam Zadeh, the story
is retold in a set of Iranian traditions during his symbolic burial service.
* Source: irib.ir