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Photographer's Note

"Imam Reza welcomes you in his house"- these words welcomed us, non-believers, at the courtyard of the complex whose central point is the shrine of our host. Having spent 16 hours on the bus from Tehran we arrived in Mashhad- Iran's holiest city, a pilgrimage centre for believers from inside and outside the country, a place where you'll see devotion in the streets, a city whose physical and religious centre alike is exactly the shrine of the only of the 12 Imams (spiritual leaders of Islam) buried in the country.
Tourists (non-believers) are not allowed entry to the shrine itself, in fact, they are only allowed to walk into the courtyard and several selected rooms (including museums) -but- only accompanied by a guide provided at the site. As much as I hoped to admire the beauty of the complex itself, it was not meant to be, yet it was still worth spending all those hours on the bus. One of the reason was a meeting with Fatima, our young guide who welcomed us so warmly at the gates of the comples,a devout Muslim, who- while showing tolerance for our beliefs, expressed also hope that we too would some day find the true path to God:-) Talking to her you could get rid of the feeling that you are an intruder in this holy place, we felt treated like guests - but hospitality is such a natural element of Iranian culture that it shouldn't have surprised me.

After the visit we stayed outside the complex, watching the people and trying to understand as much of what we were seeing. In spite of the welcome I felt like I did not quite belong there, still , the confrontation with the atmosphere of the place was a fantastic experience. Read all the books, study the history, and then look into the eyes of the everpresent ghost of Khomeini- and try to understand Iran...I still can't.

bantonbuju, Baileys, mdchachi, mark88, Philippe, vhemmati, zips, anitaj trouve(nt) cette note utile

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Additional Photos by Aleksandra Borzecka (starbug) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 501 W: 4 N: 1033] (6924)
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