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Longing for Celebrations

Lately, celebrations have become challenging. Of course, people continue to celebrate things like birthdays, New Year, marriages, the Republic, and freedom. Each individual has their own description of the celebration.

In the general sense, as per the definition offered by the Turkish Language Society, celebration means “expressing the joy of any happy event to the person who has achieved it, with speech, writing, or gift-giving.” Naturally, it would be limiting to define celebration based solely on this definition. Cultures, too, have their own way of celebrating.

The concept of celebration has varied through life’s testing of countries, organisations, and individuals; one might even say its chemistry has been disrupted. Having grown up surrounded by the traumas of our parents, which they have experienced without the ability to overcome them, we continue living in new conditions that seem improbable and strive to “celebrate.” Resilience has become the most fundamental element of celebrations. Those who endure and resist, calling us to “celebrate despite everything,” are the ones wearing out the most. “Being resilient” is regarded as adapting (whatever the conditions) and preserving the fundamental structure. What 22-year-old Mahsa Amani went through in Iran in mid-September showed us how difficult resilience can be. When she was detained by the “morality police” on the alleged claim that she wore her hijab improperly and died under custody, “women living under regimes with narrow minds and worlds” started a fight. Amani’s death sparked widespread protests during which female students removed their hijab, raised their hands, and cut their hair. Celebrations were replaced by memorials, happiness with concern, anger, and anxiety. Many artists, primarily in Iran, refused to stay silent in the face of these “memorials” all around the world.

Iranian artists who preferred to remain anonymous painted a fountain in New York with red to depict the “pond of blood” in Iran and remembered Mahsa Amani. Symbolising Tehran’s sinking into blood, the work became an instinctive reminder of sacrifice in the name of women’s rights. New York-based Iranian artist Shirin Neshat displayed an artwork that draws attention to the worsening condition of human rights in Iran, following Amani’s death, at Piccadilly Circus in London and Pendry West Hollywood in Los Angeles. British rock band Coldplay accompanied the exiled Iranian artist Golshifteh Farahani for the song “Baraye Azadi - For Freedom” during their concert in Buenos Aires, Argentine. The song was composed by prominent musician Servin Hajipour, inspired by the messages on social media following the start of protests after Amani’s death. Based in New York, Iranian art professional Pari Ehsan told me: “Iranian women are writing a new history for themselves and, in the meantime, they inspire people all across the world to stand up against oppression in their own land. We want you to see them. Listen to them. Give strength to their stories of hope and courage, rising on the burning ember of a dying regime. ”Today, celebrations have become synonymous with memorials. Besides technology, informatics, marketing, and production, change has also affected the way we deal with the world, i.e. we express ourselves. Each day, month, and year we learn about new people or incidents to commemorate. “Creating meaning” requires a meticulous and attentive period of research, with almost no room for error. And it begins with “listening.” The more the world listens to Iran, the more we see issues to commemorate. How well are you listening to Iran?


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