Mystic Iran- a movie made by an Iranian woman for Iranian women. After speaking to Ms. Aryana Farshad, she sent me the Iranian version of her documentary about women dervish. Seldom did a movie have such an effect on me.
The movie starts with Shohreh Aghdashloo’s mesmerizing deep voice a narrator. The first scene shows a part of Persepolis, talking about the great Darius, who brought the first Monotheistic religion, Zoroastrian to Persia. Beliefs and practices of the old Persians are explained and the followers, which are still living in the present Iran, are shown. You see true Persian features, unaffected by Arabic ones. Lighter skins, auburn hair and of course the long Persian nose. Men and women are shown during a religious ceremony, lighting candles and praying while reading from the holy book, Avesta. Despite what some may believe Zoroastrians do not pray to fire. The Zoroastrians call their God Ahura Mazda, and fire is used as a sign of purity, and sign for the continuous circle of life.
The scene changes and the middle of Tehran is seen, cars, smoke and a different range of houses rising into the sky, in front of the Alborz mountains. Aryana was born in this city, now after living for numerous years in the West, coming back on search of her roots. She travels further into the mainland, passing Kashan and going to Kurdestan, visiting the Sufis.
While many might be familiar with the practices and religious dances of male dervishes, not too many people know that female dervish exist.
Aryana attends the male ceremony, which she was not allowed to attend in person, but had to watch from the window. Men of different ages, get up and start to move to the drum beat, which can be heard. Even while watching this scene, I got goose bumps, by their movements and by their singing. These men, who I would have not even thought might still be able to walk, would dance, bounce and jump in the middle of the formed circle. Completely mesmerized by the drumbeat, lost in their belief, lost in the name of God, saying God’s name repeatedly, each one reaching their Nirvana in a different way. At the end, each of them is breathless, making the perfect bun to their waist length hair, as if nothing has changed. And yet something has changed: each one has a certain light in their eyes, looking beyond earth and materialism. Having been on a journey from their bodies, leaving everything behind for a certain period of time, being in unity with God.
The scene switches to women in white tshadors, walking up a hill. While walking, one of them is playing the drum. The beat fills the air. You can feel and hear the echo in the mountains of Kurdestan. Honestly, I did not know that women dervish even existed. Their leader is the woman, who made it made it possible for Aryana to understand the world. They leave and go into a room to fall into the final stage of meraj.
The camera leads us into a room, where a woman is introduced. She is a great sufi, who is in the process of baking bread. The crew asks her to dance, which she shyly refuses. But as soon as the drum sound reaches her, she is not herself anymore. She moves, slowly first, and then she says the name of God, louder and louder, rising up. You could see her love for the One, her devotion, her willingness to leave everything behind and rise. At one point, her hand reaches out for one of the logs on the ground, which she led to her lips. Instinctively I said that she would burn herself. Nevertheless, she breathed in the smoke from the log. Later on, she stamped on the fire, without anything happening to her. Sufis say that the internal fire leads you automatically to the external one.
At the end the movie goes back to the Zoroastrians and Persepolis. Showing different sites of Iran and its long history, cultural and religious story.
I would absolutely recommend this movie to anyone who has Iranian roots, or is interested in the religions. It is very well done, informative and shows a beautiful side of Iran. A Mystic Iran.