Feast of grapes is one of the traditional rituals which ages three thousand years which is celebrated in a different region of Iran where the grapes are grown from past until now. It is celebrated at the end of summer and it coincided with harvesting the grapes. The beautiful feast of grapes and traditional ritual of Doushab Pazan (extracting Grape juice) are two spiritual heritages in Urmia which are registered in the list of Iranian national heritage.
As a sign of gratitude to the Creator of the universe, this feast was held during the harvest of grapes and the preparation of the juice of grapes in the pre-Islamic era in Azerbaijan. After the arrival of Islam, it was held by Christians and Armenians for a long time due to religious beliefs. This feast is called Shanader by Muslims and Christians called it Ushanka. Shanidar feast (shanader or shanidar is composed of two words, “shan” which means a qualified grape in the west region especially west Azarbaijan province, and “dar” which means to pick) is often hold in the villages of Gerdabad, Digaleh, Resimanabad, Ghoshchi, Jamal Abad, Goulan, etc; respecting their own rituals and traditions.
In the past, the people of Urmia believed in their traditions and they respected the values of the blessings of God. For them, the grapes were sacred so they avoid eating them before this feast. Wearing white clothes, most of the guests were there and at the time of picking the grapes, they tried to keep the grapes from clipping and not fall to the ground, because it was considered sinful and ungrateful. Some locals believed that vinegar can only be done by certain people and that the vinegar should not be injected because it would be ruined.
The magnificent grape festival is usually held in late Shahrivar (the sixth month of the Solar Hijri calendar) or early Mehr (the seventh month of the Solar Hijri calendar) when the grapes ripe in full. On the morning of the celebration, crowds gather around Lake Urmia and also in the vineyards. Situated in the square, the crowd wait for Il Bashi (Khanlar Khani), the headmaster of the tribe and who begins the ceremony. Accompanied by four women (a symbol of four elements earth, water, air, and fire), and a little boy and girl (a symbol of life's survival), dressed in special clothing and clothing, enters the hall with a basket of grapes in hand.
Khanlar Khani start
Khanarkhani begins to speak by thanking God for his blessings and performs a special prayer of the grape feast in Azeri language and its Persian translation. After praying, the little girl and boy with small baskets of grapes welcome people and each attendee takes some grapes as a blessing. Some make a vow to sacrifice. They also ask God to protect their vineyards and crops from disasters such as hail, storms, and floods and to bless them. Thereafter, they begin to extract grape juice with special tools, utensils, and apparatus.
The brave men also perform local wrestling and then then, they play local music and sing Azerbaijani folk songs (Qushmaja and Bayati) that are not religious and they are joyful. These are performed by local folk dancers, as well as group folk dance (Yali) in a long line (the sign of unity). Grape dehydration contest, presentation grape products and derivatives such as juice, vinegar, raisins, etc. is another part of this beautiful ceremony.