Rose Harvest Festival in Iran
The Festival of Rose Water Extraction
Today we are inviting you to an aromatic festival. This is the festival of Rose Water Extraction in villages around Kashan. Every year in the month of May, damask roses bloom in different regions of Kashan and a large scale activity in farms and gardens begin. This is a long practiced tradition and attracts many merchants and tourists to the region every year. It is not an organized festival per se, rather, it is a public movement with great cultural significance.
Rose Water, extracted from damask roses, have always been famous product of villages in Kashan. Qamsar, Niasar, Barzuk and Ozvar are main hubs for growing the flowers and since they are located in different altitudes and geographical situation, their time of blooming differs from each other.
In each of these villages you go, the scent of beautiful pink flowers is accumulated in the air. There are thousands of full bottles, on the shop counters or in boxes in front of homes that invite visitors to come, try and purchase.
Rose water extract is present in many aspects of Iranian life. It is commonly used in different kinds of food, as traditional medicine and also in religious and ritualistic ceremonies. The damask rose is called Mohammadi flower in Iran, as a reference to Prophet Mohammad’s interest in their fragrance.
Therefore these flowers are treated as sacred element and are present in many appearances of culture in Iran.
A bottle of Kashan’s rose water, can be used for undusting gravestone of a religious figure, or a loved one. Rose water is used in many sweets that are made for mourning ceremonies or as Nazri, the food that is distributed among other people in order to attract their prayers towards a good cause.
People would use rose water on their skin like a perfume, when they wanted to pay a visit to someone they cared about. It is also added to traditional ice cream and in Kashan itself, a few drops of rose water is added to tea to make it more aromatic.
To pick the damask roses, farmers start work early hours and before sunrise. They believe that when the Sun comes up, its rays will decrease the scent of the flowers, so they should be handpicked before it is too warm.
Then the flowers are taken to the extraction facility, which in villages of Kashan, the traditional vessels and techniques are still in use.
Flowers are put into a large copper pot that is sealed and the steam is transferred out through copper pipes. These pipes are submerged in a water stream on the way so the steam gets cool and finally drips into copper pitchers.
In Kashan, there is an additional activity on the rose water extract that is called Do Atasheh. It means that this first extraction goes underneath the same process again to result in richer and more pure scents.
When you are in Kashan’s flower villages, you can visit the damask rose farms, and see the extraction facilities in gardens or even the front yard of some houses, that leave the doors open for guests to come and have some tea.
They can present their work and offer to sell the fresh rose water directly, without the intrusion of some dealers. This is an authentic experience for visitors to purchase organic and homemade rose water that resembles the scent of heaven.
Fereshteh Sabetian is a World Heritage Studies graduate, a solo traveler, a coffee enthusiast and a cat lover :)