Dive into the Culture & Traditions of Iran
Before sunrise, rural residents come to the farm group by group for the Kashan rose water festival. After a while, women’s skirts are full of roses. Also, men’s baskets. A gentle breeze wafts the scent of rose flowers to us. We go together to the manufactory in this almost intoxicating scent.
Details You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip
Golabgiri (taking damask rose water) is a festival taking place every year from mid-May to mid-June. The ceremony happens in many cities in Iran, but the most famous one is the Kashan rose water festival. A traditional town with the buildings out of “One Thousand and One Nights” tales. Kashan earned its reputation as the “Historical Houses City” based on its mysterious houses. Every year in mid-spring, rose gardens throughout Kashan, come into flower, especially Qamsar and Niasar. Taking rose flower is the ancestral career for many people here. Persian rose water is a valuable gift from this city, and it’s used in cooking, treatments, and also in religious ceremonies.
- Kind: Iranian traditional rose harvesting festival
- Location: Kashan, Iran
- Dates: mid-May to mid-June
History of the Festival Through Ancient Stories
Many centuries ago, when the merchants transported many valuable goods, Persian rose water was being traded. They found many medical benefits for damask rose and its essence. Even Persian rose water was paid as tax.
Let’s travel to old Kashan. If you walk around the city, you might see a babbling brook. Follow it, and you reach a pinkish field. People are taking delicate damask roses. Mothers who have infants put their babies in the rose cradle. Sometimes a woman gets tired under the hot sun and sits in the shade of a weeping willow. But she can’t rest for so long as the flowers would lose their scent. Others are carrying flowers to the local manufactory. Some are taking petals. The large copper pots are ready to fill with fresh leaves, and that’s the first step to start rose water production.
Golabgiri was taken place from a long time ago. But from the last decades, it’s changed to a festival which attracts many visitors. They saw rose water production, pinkish rose farms, and high quality rose water are attractive for many visitors. Furthermore, the locals realized this festival can help them to introduce themselves and their valuable product to others. Also, they wanted travelers from different places to experience how Iran’s image is different from what others describe.
Culture and Ambience of This Festival
Many men and women standing next to each other on a massive rose field pick the flowers in such rhythmic harmony. It is pleasing to the eyes to see their pace and order in picking roses altogether. Some mothers put their infants among damask roses. They say it helps babies to be protected against allergic diseases. Some visitors learn about taking the rose water process. Furthermore, others who look for peace, get lost in the birds’ song and flowers’ scent.
Golabgiri isn’t just a festival, as it relates farming to art, culture, and even religion. Golab is a symbol of Kashan and shapes the Kashani people’s identity. Rose water is used in many ways. Kashani people are proud of using rose water for cleaning Kaaba, the most important place for Muslims. Rose water festival is an important time in Kashan as it attracts many visitors. Men, women, and children from different cities come together to watch, enjoy and buy rose products.
While you watch picking roses by men and women in traditional clothes and taking a deep breath in the village fresh air, maybe an elder woman comes out from nowhere and kindly offers a cup of tea with rose leaves. A hospitable village man starts talking to you about local life in this region of the world. Furthermore, you have the chance to try fresh and organic rose water in the traditional manufactories. All of these experiences together are what makes Iran rose water festival much more noteworthy to experience.
More Magical Stories from Previous Participants of the Festival
As I got to Qamsar, I could smell the rose aroma. The scent of flowers guided me to a garden. From the half-open door, I could see pink flowers. Many women with colorful traditional dresses were picking the flowers.
Suddenly I saw a creek and a rose is floating on it. I followed the rose through the farm. I thought maybe somebody wants to guide me to a special part of the farm! Bushes were getting less dense, and I could see this little creek empties into a pond. Inside the ponds, there were several large copper pots. As I was thinking about the pond and pots, women with baskets full of rose’s leaves arrived. They filled the containers with fresh rose leaves. When a young girl saw my excitement, she started to talk about how it works. She said with a sweet local accent that they add water to the leaves and turn up the fire beneath the pots. She said the key to the whole process is patience. “We’ve learned to be patient growing up in the dry desert. I think that’s why we are so good at this”. She said with a lovely smile.
As she walked away to help her family, I got lost in my thoughts of how sweet people of this region have been to me. The scent of roses brought me back to where I was. They were opening the lids. The young girl screamed with joy: “Come have some of this fresh rose water! Come.
Before sunrise, under the twilight sky, only tempting things can take you out from the bed, make you get dressed, rush to your car and head you to the farms. Rose farms are far from the houses, and we need to take a car and drive for a while. The village is located in a valley. When I’m driving down from the road, I can see a fade pinkish shadow. They are damask rose farms.
Damask rose shrubs are as tall as me, with dense pink subtle flowers. I step carefully among the thorny bushes. The scent of damask roses, combined with orange-red sunlight and crisp air, is tranquil and dreamy. Here, at this moment, I believe in paradise. The flowers are supposed to be picked before sunrise. Even before the prying of the bees.
I started to pick the roses. Everything has its way, and so does picking the flowers. I take the stem with my right hand and pick the flower with my left thumb.
The enchanting scent is becoming more and more. Orange and red sky is turning to blue. The air is getting warmer, and I don’t need my sweater anymore. I can see little rose thorns in my fingers, but a sense of serenity distracts me. My clothes, my hands and even myself smell of damask rose. Picking flowers with my fingers is exquisite, but even more exquisite is smelling sack of flowers.
Participating in the rose water festival is one of those unforgettable experiences which keeps rattling around in my mind.
What Makes This Festival Special and Unique?
- Getting in touch with Iranian rural culture by making the connection with locals and learning their daily life
- Getting to know Kashan, a beautiful city popular for its historical architecture
- Spending a day in the rose fields enjoying the beautiful spring weather and lovely aroma of the fresh flowers
- Picking flowers from a rose garden
- Trying high-quality Persian rose water
Why Do We Care?
Keeping traditional Iranian festivals alive
Introducing Persian rose water to the world and attracting foreign travelers to this region to see the process of rose water production.
Getting in touch with Iranian culture
Experiencing an immersive journey through interacting with locals and experiencing the joy of sharing authentic Persian food in the heart of a rose garden field.
Changing Iran’s global image
Promoting Iran’s attractive festivals and places so the worldwide audiences get to know that Iran is different from what mainstream media portray.
Helping the local economy
Improving the region’s economy to ensure the continuation of high quality rose water production and local traditions for the next generations to come.
Why Take a Tour?
- Location: Iran rose water festival doesn’t have a centralized location. It takes place in many cities in Iran and also in many towns around Kashan. We choose the best rose gardens to maximize your joy.
- Guide: A local guide can improve travelers’ experience. He/she knows the local culture, language, and history. Kashan is a historical city with traditional Iranian architecture. During participating in Kashan rose water festival, you can head to this city with your guide and get surprised by the many historical heritage sites.
- Transportation: Most of the rose gardens are in rural areas. So finding transportation to get to gardens on time is difficult. We plan for it beforehand, and you get rid of the usual headaches of planning.