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The Herald Of Norouz Comes To Iran

People throughout the Middle East, Caucasus, and Central Asia are preparing to celebrate Norouz, the Persian New Year, which marks the beginning of spring on March 20-21. In many countries, a costumed character appears in public to greet the holiday with song and dance. This herald of Norouz is known as Haji Firuz in Iran. The character is often played by low-income workers from small towns who travel to the cities to earn extra money with their performances. (Photos by Behrouz Mehri of AFP) (7 PHOTOS)

Sahdmehr, 12, from the northern province of Mazandaran, poses in costume as Haji Firuz.
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Sahdmehr, 12, from the northern province of Mazandaran, poses in costume as Haji Firuz.

Sajjad, age 14, plays Haji Firuz with his face smeared with soot. The custom is thought to be related to ancient Zoroastrian fire rituals, in which a designated fire-keeper played a central role.
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Sajjad, age 14, plays Haji Firuz with his face smeared with soot. The custom is thought to be related to ancient Zoroastrian fire rituals, in which a designated fire-keeper played a central role.

Toofan, 19, from the northern province of Mazandaran, poses for a portrait in downtown Tehran.
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Toofan, 19, from the northern province of Mazandaran, poses for a portrait in downtown Tehran.

Hooman, 29, plays the tambourine. Other performers play the drums or stringed instruments like the saz or rabob.
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Hooman, 29, plays the tambourine. Other performers play the drums or stringed instruments like the saz or rabob.

Arash Khoshani, 17
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Arash Khoshani, 17

Ghorban Heidari, 25
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Ghorban Heidari, 25

Iman, 22
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Iman, 22

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