HERAT CITY (SW) – Families in Herat celebrated ‘Yalda Night’, the longest and darkest night of the year, with traditional zeal.
This has been a tradition for ages when friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant for the ‘Yalda Night’ or ‘Chellah’.
The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life.
Dr. Ahmad Ghani Khusrovi, a professor at the Herat University, said in this regard that many families prepare their dining mats in line with the Yalda Night traditions to keep the custom alive here. Dry-fruit and fresh-fruit vendors have also reported significant surge in sales in this connection.
Observed in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Turkey, it marks "the night opening the initial forty-day period of the three-month winter" from which the name Chellah, "fortieth", derives.