Hundreds of Iranians have flocked central Yerevan marking the Iranian New Year (Nowruz) and enjoying the relative freedom of the Armenian capital. Some say up to 13 thousand Iranians have arrived here, although I wasn’t able to varify the number at this point.
Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.
I was in Yerevan only for two days on March 22-23, flying in between two trips abroad. The sight of cheerful Iranians running in and out of the most expensive stores and restaurants in central Yerevan seriously cheered me up. Armenia presents ambitions projects on developing tourism every year so the fact so many Iranians are finding Yerevan an attractive destination to celebrate a major national holiday, should certainly be welcomed by everyone here.
Meanwhile, the presence of hundreds, if not thousands of Iranians in Yerevan doesn’t seem to go down very well with many Armenians. This country which is monoethnic in essence has very low tolerence for diversity, which shows when you look at the evil looks many Armenians give to Iranians who nevertheless enjoy themselves in Yerevan and speak highly of hospitality of people here.
Some of the complaints voiced by Armenians I talked to on the topic, as well as posts by Armenian bloggers can be grouped into the following categories: (warning, its all fascist crap)
- these are not Iranians but Iranian Azeries, and since Armenia is technically at war with Azerbaijan, these people should be thrown out;
- the Iranians are having sex with Armenian women;
- c) they are loud, not well behaved.
This is all bullshit of course, and just shows how unprepared Armenia is for becoming a tourism destination and how sick this society is. If we don’t get over this attitude, I don’t think this country has a chance of surviving in a globalized world.
Meanwhile, many Iranians say they plan to spend most of their 15-day holidays in Armenia injecting much needed cash into the striving economy and struggling tourism industry. I say, welcome Iranians, and have a very Happy New Year Nowruz!