As a traveler visiting Iran for the first time, Zoorkhaneh ritual or Varzesh- e Zoorkhaneh is probably one of the most interesting things you will see here. Zoorkhaneh ritual is a symbolic and traditional system of athletics that has been done by Iranians, since 3000 years ago during Zoroastrianism and Mithraism era. These athletics are known to be the ancient roots of wrestling and weightlifting that were done for training warriors. This ancient ritual is registered by the UNESCO as an intangible world heritage.
|Zoorkhaneh in Yazd.|
Today, Iranian men still do the traditional exercises in Zoorkhane, which is usually a domed construction considered as a sacred place. Everything in Zoorkhaneh (house of strength) is symbolic. The entrance door is short and causes the athletes to remember to be noble and modest as they bend to enter the Zoorkhaneh.
Inside the Zoorkhaneh the athletes wear leather pants and circle around the Gowd, which is a big polygonal hole, and follow the movements of Pahlavan who is their leader. For becoming a Pahlavan, loyalty and courtesy is as important as being physically strong. Zoorkhane rituals are combined with Persian music and literature. A man called Morshed, sits out of the Gowd, Plays Tonbak (Iranian music instrument like a drum) and sings heroic poems from Shahname, which is the masterpiece of Iranian literature written by Ferdowsi.
There are still many Iranian men who choose Zoorkhane as their sport club. There are many active Zoorkhanes in the cities of Iran. While you are in Iran, don’t forget to search for the nearest Zoorkhaneh to you and watch the Iranian men exercising just like their ancestors did thousands of years ago!
|A Zoorkhaneh in Iran.|