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    Banu-Pars (Pir-e Banu) or Mazraey-e Meher, Aqda, Yazd, Iran

    Iran - Banu-Pars (Pir-e Banu) or Mazraey-e Meher, Aqda, Yazd, Iran


    If when journeying to Pir-e Sabz from the city of Yazd, one turn east at the city of Ardakan, to go instead to Pir-e Banu, one would turn west from Ardakan towards Turkabad, Shamsabad and Aqda. Here the traveller might wish to pause and reflect - for this is hallowed ground, the Haftador (Hapt-Adar) where seven holy fires once burned with vigour. From there the traveller would head southwest into the nearby mountains towards the village of Zarju. Passing beneath the peak of Mount Anjir, Kuh-e Anjir, and on arriving at the pir, the traveller would have travelled over 115 kilometres from Yazd. The traveller would also have arrived at the place where legend tells us fled Banu-Pars, the youngest daughter of the last Sassanian king Yazdegerd III and queen Hastbadan.

    As the young princess fled before the Arabs, she was beset by thirst and paused briefly at a farmer's and requested the farmer for a glass of milk. He began to oblige by milking his cow. When he had finished and placed down the pale of milk, the cow stirred and kicked the pale slipping the milk into the ground. Now with the Arabs closing in on her and no time to wait, she fled into the folds of the mountain. With no water in sight and he pursuers now in plain sight, she lifted her arms in prayed pleading to be saved from the clutches of the enemy. As with the others, the mountain responded by opening its side and without a moment to loose, she disappeared into its embrace.

    The princess Banu-Pars is known by several names such as Sherbanu and Khataribanu.

    Years passed and a blind man happened to rest at the very spot where the princess had disappeared into the mountain. In his sleep a vision of a beautiful maiden came to him telling him what had transpired at that very spot and he knew he must built a shrine at that place and while still asleep resolved to do so. When he awoke, his sight returned to him.

    And so it is that even when Zoroastrians seem blinded and when darkness surrounds them, there is hope that one day they will awake to see the light. But they must be committed to keep alive the memory of the brave souls who have passed before them, continue to maintain the faith despite every adversity, work together as a community helping those in need, and labour to build rather than destroy.

    Today, the shrine, popular with Zoroastrians and non-Zoroastrians alike, is also called Mazreh-e Meher Yazad, meaning the Farm of Angel Mithra and Pir-e Banu Pars. It has another name as well: Pir-e Meherbanu, the ancient holy place of the lady Meher.

    Some pilgrims visit a nearby shrine in the Tutgin valley near the village of Zardju called Shekaft-e Yazdan, that is, the Rock Cleft of Angels, in conjunction with their visit to Pir-e Banu.

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    This workshop is designed according to the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme in order to give young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of our common cultural and natural heritage. It seeks to encourage and enable tomorrow’s decision-makers to participate in heritage conservation and to respond to the continuing threats facing our World Heritage. The idea of involving young people in World Heritage preservation and promotion came as a response to Article 27 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention). Furthermore, Patrimonito means 'small heritage' in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. Patrimonito has been widely adopted as the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Programme.
    Date: 29th December
    Number of trainees: 7
    Duration: 3 hours

    The workshop of "Patrimonito" was held on 29th of December. Participants arrived around 10:30 and they were welcomed by hot chocolate and Persian cup cakes. After a little introduction by trainers and trainees, the process started by making two groups and letting them choose a name for their group, each group was accompanied by a mentor then each group was given some images of world heritage sites in Iran and some descriptions, each group was asked to match images and descriptions, the mentor was guiding them throughout the activity. All trainees were participating actively and trying to remember their experiences about their travels to these places. When they were done with the activity, the mentors started giving the answers and a brief explanation about each site; mentors were using trainees’ ideas and experiences to complete their tasks.

    Shortly after that, the second part started which was a presentation done by two of mentors. The aim of this presentation was to define the value of these world heritage sites and duties of each person as a "Patrimonito", and what happens if there is no "Patrimonito" and nobody cares about our tangible or intangible heritage. In this part trainees started questioning and understanding the whole concept of being a "Patrimonito", they also added their own suggestions on how to protect our heritage and by the end of this part, they were completely aware about their role as a "Patrimonito".
    Now it was a best time to have a short break, during the break trainees were introduced to some of intangible heritages as they were served by traditional food and snacks and even they way of serving was according to traditions and everyone had this opportunity to discuss about intangible heritage while enjoying some traditional food and snacks.
    When the break was done, everyone was asked to choose a heritage either tangible or intangible and they had to introduce their chosen heritage to a tourist by making a postcard using what they have learnt. They were given all of necessary tools such as color papers, color pencils, glue, scissors, images of heritage and a mentor was with them in order to help them completing the task.

    When they were done, they handed out their postcards and with the mentors they sat together and spent a few minutes asking and answering about what they have learnt. Then they were told to say their vows for protecting their heritage and caring about it, the mentor said the vow and the trainees repeated after her and they officially became a "Patrimonito".

    The last but the best part was when they were given the certificates, and they were told that since they are aware of the value of the heritage and they know how to protect it, they are chosen as "Patrimonito" and they should continue their mission by introducing the value of heritage to others. They were granted certificates and labels and the workshop of "Patrimonito" was finished by taking some memorial photos.