Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/109

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PERSIA.


soften their rigour. Some will sleep all day, during the Ramazan, and pass the night in excesses of every kind; and such people, nevertheless, think that they are duly observing the fast.


SECTION IV.

PILGRIMAGE.

The only pilgrimage enjoined by the Mahometan religion, is to the kaabah, or temple of Mecca, the object of the veneration of all true Musulmans. The Persians, however, are far from strict in their observance of this precept. They think, and justly too, that this act of piety cannot well be performed but by those who are in good health, and whose circumstances will allow them to take such a journey without injury to their families. Many, however, acquit themselves of tiffs duty by substitute. You meet in Persia with numbers of Arabs., who sell the tide of pilgrim which they have acquired, or who travel to Mecca instead of another for a certain sum of money. To prevent fraud, their employers require them to bring back the certificate which the sherif of Mecca delivers to pilgrims.

The Musulman who has visited the sacred city, bears for the rest of his life the honourable title of hadjee, or pilgrim. On his return from Mecca, he usually passes through Jerusalem and Hebron, which he also considers as sacred places, on account of his veneration for Abraham; and in his way back to Persia, he traverses the Arabian Irak, where he pays his devotions at the tomb of Ali and his son Hossein.


CHAPTER IV.

RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS.

The Persians have a great number of religious festivals in celebration of the birth and death of their prophets and saints, the principal mysteries of their faith, and the most memorable events of their religion. None of them is obligatory; their observance is purely optional, and some of them are not even distinguished by any ceremony. It would be too long to enumerate all these festivals; we shall therefore confine our notice to a few of them.

We have seen that the conclusion of the Ramazan furnishes occasion for a religious festival, kept with the greater enthusiasm and piety because it terminates the strictest fast. The Aid-el-corban, or festival of the sacrifice, is also attended with great rejoicings: it has been instituted in commemoration of