Like many other people who have the idea of traveling to Iran, you might have heard about Iranian hospitality. So what is especial about Iranian Hospitality that everybody talks about it?
To clarify what I`m going to talk in this article, let me bring some examples! Have you ever been offered to stay with a random local person that you just met five minutes before? Have you ever been pampered by local people because they believe visiting their town means being their special guest? Have you ever been in a place where people generously offer their food and snack without expecting anything back? Have you ever had a last minute invitation to a local traditional wedding or ceremony and be treated like a VIP guest? If the answer to these questions is “not yet”, you should definitely travel to Iran to experience Iranian Hospitality! Iran is a place where you would never be worried about accommodation, food and loneliness!
How deep routed Iranian Hospitality is?
As a woman who was born in Iran and has been grown up in this culture, I should mention that Iranian hospitality is something more than trying to be polite! It was sometimes annoying when we were kids though, but that`s how we are grown up!
When I was a small kid, I remember that my mom always used to teach us how to behave with our guests. We were always asked to save our yummy cookies or best fruits for them because guests were important people!
As a small kid, I also remember that in every house, there used to be a separate comfy well decorated room used only for the guests. No matter how rich or poor the family was, the best part of their home belonged to their guests.
Another example that I remember is about my grandma! Like any other housewife in her town, she used to cook some extra food everyday. This extra food was served to a random stranger who was visiting their town on that day! My grand parents -like other families- believed that they should always be ready to share whatever they have with random travelers or visitors.There was no need for any arrangement in advance.
Beside the cultural part of this attitude, Muslims are advised to treat their guests with so much respect and love. This fact plays an important role in Iranian hospitable culture as well.
Can I share some examples of Iranian hospitality?
I remember that once I was hosting a German couch surfing friend. It was Nowrouz -the New Year holiday in Iran- and all the accommodations were booked out according to domestic travels of Iranian people. My guest left Tehran to Shiraz without booking any place in advance and as you can guess, he couldn’t find any room for the night. He told me later:
“I was wandering around the city to find somewhere for the night that suddenly I met a random young guy. I just asked him if he knew any suitable place to stay. After a very short chat, he generously offered me his own house! He did it without even knowing me for more than couple of minutes! As I went there, I noticed that they had a family dinner so the family offered me their yummy food and took really a good care of me! I stayed there for couple of days and they showed me around without expecting anything in return. I couldn’t believe it!”
Another story that I heard from my Australian friend was: “It was Ramadan -The Muslim`s fasting month- and my family and I were struggling to find an open restaurant for lunch. It was such a hot day and we were starving! Suddenly one of the restaurant owners noticed our situation and opened his restaurant only for us and served four yummy chicken kebabs with rice! I can never forget how delicious that food was!”
These stories and other similar ones might happen to you when you are traveling in Iran. You might see random people who can not speak English but they do their best to sort out your confusion. I remember that once my friend’s old grandma had called my friend- who could speak English- to make sure everything is all good with a random tourist in the bus! While traveling around Iran,you will see people happily starting a chat with you or welcoming you. Therefor, the English word you will hear more than any other word is ” Hello! Welcome!”.
Is this Iranian hospitality only for foreigner tourists?
The answer to this question is definitely “No. It is not!”As a woman who has spent 30 years of her life living and traveling in this beautiful land, I can mention lots of stories about this hospitality culture.
I remember many times when we were camping in remote rural areas and the nearest town residents were bringing us eggs, home made bread, butter and tea for breakfast everyday! A similar experience occurred with an old man who walked with us for 8 km to show the best camping spot near the spring.
Another story happened with a man whom we were hitchhiking with. He not only offered us a place to stay at night, but also prepared some food for our next day without expecting anything in return.
Or the drivers who stopped their cars to buy us a cold drink on a hot day or invite us to a restaurant to have lunch with them. There are lots of other stories that I can surprise you with by sharing them, however, I would prefer you experience it yourself.
So what is Taarof? Any useful tips?
Now that we are talking about Iranian hospitality, I should mention an act/ phrase called Taarof. Taarof is a really confusing expression and manner in Iran, which might confuse you a lot.
Taarof basically is a manner of being polite and hospitable, but everybody knows that it should not be taken seriously! You might see the Taarof words, when you are to pay for taxi or shopping. The salesperson or taxi driver might tell you something which means:”That`s alright dude! You don`t have to pay!”. However, the truth is you should decline the offer politely and pay your money! I know that it looks so confusing, but it will be fun as well.
You will find similar examples as soon as you start traveling in Iran! Don`t panic though! you will easily realize when it is about Taarof and when it is a serious offer! But what if you are doubtful about an offer? Don`t worry! Just memories the word Taarof and ask if it is a Taarof!
As a conclusion, I can say that hospitality is something deep routed than just a polite manner for Iranian people! As long as you are new to Iranian people`s home, car, town or country, you are their guest and you will be treated like a guest!