Among the religious traditions of Iran, is giving Nazr. This means devoting one’s self to an action in the name of God, in return for a prayer, it is usually repeated once a year. Simply said it’s promising God to do a good dead once a year, which in most cases is giving away cooked food. For example a woman starts a nazr, for the health of her family, to cook ash sabzi each year, on the last day of Ramadan.
The days choose for nazr in Iran are usually based on the luner hejri calendar, on Islamic religious days. It can be celebrations such the birth of Mohammad, the profit, or mourning days such as the death of Mohammad. The usually response on receiving a nazr is “we hope your nazr (prayer) will be accepted”.
Nazr can be a complete meal, rice and stew. The most common is gheyme stew and rice. In case of a meal it is prepared at noon, so it can be eaten for lunch. Ash is also very common for nazr, it should be prepared by morning, so it can be eaten as breakfast. Halva is also a common breakfast nazr. Nazr can be simple lemonade, usually distributed on the street among cars and pedestrians.
Since cooking large amounts of food for nazr takes hours, relatives would gather and help throughout the procedure, which has turned cooking and distributing nazr food into fun family and friends gathering in Iran. Relatives are the first to receive nazr. Respecting neighbors is highly regarded in Islam, and they are second to receive nazr foods. The remaining would be either distributed or given away on the street or in poor neighborhoods.
On religious days, its very normal to receive up to 2-3 bowls of nazr from neighbors. Nazr is not only for lower social levels, since it’s considered a blessing to eat nazr. Everybody is grateful to receive and consume it and it is distributed in high and low neighborhoods.
A very common type of donation from old times in Iran is nazr. Wealthy families would donate large sums for nazr on religious occasions. Many mosques also gather donations and prepare large amounts of nazr for the less fortunate.
In the last few years a webpages called “Nazr Yab” which means, nazr finder, has become popular. It shows on which days, where and what kind of nazr in distributed.