Big eyes and ‘oh Masuleh’ is what we get when we tell people where we’re heading to. Masuleh is a tiny village in the mountains near the Caspian sea where earth-coloured houses are built so steeply that the roof of one forms the pathway for the next.
When we arrive the view and half the village is covered in fog. What first doesn’t really make us very happy turns out to be the ideal misty surrounding for the evening.
While wandering around on rooftops of other peoples houses more and more people arrive to tiny Masuleh. People from around the region, from the next bigger city and from whole of Iran come to this place just for tonight. The narrow pathways are crowded. As the night falls hundreds of men gather around the mosque. Unimaginable singsang and rythmic hammering is well heard in every hidden corner of the village. With both hands formed to a fist they pounder themselves on the heart and parade through Masouleh.
It is the month of Imam Hosseins memorial. Imam Hossein is one of the twelve leaders of Shiism and was murdered more than a thousand years ago. Shia Muslims celebrate the death of all twelve imams, but most concentrate on Hossein and two others.
As we are fascinated by the ceremony and the crowds of people standing on every single roof the lady next to us invites us to her home. The traditional house is beautifully renovated and as perfect as a museum. After many ‘ohs’ and ‘wows’ when getting a tour through the house we drink some tea and warm our feet.
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE CASPIAN SEA
Assuming you don’t know anything about the Caspian sea (like we did) here’s some interesting info: Firstly, did you know it produces 95% of the world’s caviar? Secondly, they can’t decide if it’s a lake or perhaps a sea? The thing is that in international legal terms, each nation gets its own territorial slice of any sea it borders. But with a lake resources must be shared equally among all respective states. The exact definition has quite economic implications given the Caspian’s valuable offshore oilfields. And last but mot least, we did not go for a swim as it is forbidden in Iran for women to do so.