The Iranian haircut police

The Iranian haircut police

If you’ve got a penchant for a spiked up punk rocker head of hair or even an 80s style mullet, you may wish to take heed if hanging out in Tehran this summer and and wishing to pop in to the local barber to keep yourself in trim.

That is because The Guardian have this week reported that the authorities in Iran have banned “Homosexual” and “devil worshiping” haircuts in a move seen as somewhat of a trend where each summer they crack down on anyone donning haircuts or or clothing seen as imitations of western lifestyles.

Seen as more of a moderate leader compared to his predecessor, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has been critical of such crackdowns which are seen more of an enforcement of Islam than an implementation of the law. However the head of Iran’s barbers’ union Mostafa Govahi has threatened the revocation of licenses to any barbers who are styling their clients with such ‘banned’ looks. He has also added that barbers across Iran had been given a list of ‘appropriate hairstyles for men. And that ‘Haircuts that show symbols or signs of devil worshipers or those adopted by homosexuals are banned’ (however giving no details on what kind of style these are exactly).

So if you’re out and about in Iran this summer with any kind of nonconformist styles on the street, remember you may feel the force of the annual crackdown and be marched off to the nearest barber with their ‘approved’ list of styles!

If you want to find out more about traveling in Iran, check out our Globe Trekker destination guide with Ian Wright, and  discover the wonderful hospitality and culture of the Persian people in Globe Trekker – Iran.

Iran is a notoriously tough place to exist freely as a homosexual. Illegal and punishable by death it ranks as a serious no-go country for any gay travelers. For more gay-friendly destinations you can see our guide to all things Gay Travel in our show ‘Gay Traveler’

See also our show on Gay Prides all over the world!

Happy Nowruz to all our Persian Friends!

Happy Nowruz to all our Persian Friends!

Nowruz celebrates renewal and rebirth, symbolized by the coming of spring. It is partly rooted in the ancient Zoroastrian tradition, but is a joyous holiday that was celebrated thousands of years ago. The first day on the Iranian calendar falls on the March equinox, the first day of spring, around 20 March, which is Nowruz. The word Nowruz is a blend of two Persian words –  “now” which means “new,” and “roz” which means “day.”

The festival of Nowruz is celebrated by many groups of people in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, but particularly by Persians and many other Iranian peoples.  Zoroastrians worldwide celebrate Nowruz as the first day of the New Year.   Nowruz is the most important holiday in Iran. Preparations for Nowruz begin in the month Esfand , the last month of winter in the Persian solar calendar.

Hajji Firuz is the traditional herald of Nowruz. He oversees celebrations for the new year perhaps as a remnant of the ancient Zoroastrian fire-keeper.  His face is painted black (black is an ancient Persian symbol of good luck) and wears a red costume. Then he sings and dances through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and heralds the approaching New Year.


Image by Neda Dorudi

This is  called Chahārshanbe Suri and  takes place the day before the last Wednesday of the year, and he gets everyone to join in.  This festival is the celebration of the light (the good) winning over the darkness (the bad); the symbolism behind the rituals are all rooted back to Zoroastrianism.

In association with the “rebirth of nature”, extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost all Iranian households, and hyacinths and tulips are  always around the house.  This spring clean is known as Khouneh Tekouni (literally  ‘shaking the house’)


Image by Neda Dorudi

Haft Sīn  or the seven ‘S’s is a traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The haft seen table includes seven items all starting with the letter sīn  in the Perso-Arabic alphabet. The Haft Chin table includes the following items which symbolize Zoroastrian divinities such as ātar and asmān.

Mirror – symbolizing Sky
Apple – symbolizing Earth
Candles – symbolizing Fire
Golab – rose water symbolizing Water
Sabzeh – wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants
Goldfish – symbolizing Animals
Painted Eggs – symbolizing Humans and Fertility


Image by Neda Dorudi

The traditional dish at Nowruz is Sabzeh Pillo which is eaten with rice and smoked fish. families visits each other and presents are given to the children.

Nowruz takes place over 13 days, and on the the thirtieth day families leave their homes and picnic outdoors, as part of the Sizdah Be-dar ceremony. Every one takes food and joins in this grand picnic.

How did you and your family celebrate Nowruz?  Send us your pictures @globetrekkertv


Image by Neda Dorudi

For more information about traditional Iranian Foods, read our food guide here:

Explore more about the colourful region with it’s famous hospitality in our Globe Trekker Episode with Ian Wright as he explores the heart and soul of Iran; its customs and culture!

Globe Trekker – Iran from Globe Trekker on Vimeo.