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Iran ‘different from every other Muslim land’: Indian newspaper

Tehran, Iran is a wondrous contrast to how the West has often presented it, wrote The Telegraph India on Sunday.

'Iran is not just another country for India. Since the days of King Darius to the Mughals, and from the families of Jamshetji Tata and Godrej to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and Ghorban Mohammadpour, we have so much of Persia amidst us. So much that it has silently merged into our being, giving a distinct flavor to our languages, culture, strengths, morales and habits,' wrote Tarun Vijay, a member of BJP, in The Telegraph.

Referring to his stay in Iran, he wrote, 'Hence, an Iran sojourn had to be a special for me - a distinct experience - and it certainly proved to be that and much more. My first interaction in Tehran was a pleasant surprise and had all the elements of the poetic serenity of Hafez Shirazi.'

Saying that one friendly Iranian man had asked him the meaning of Hindustan, Vijay quoted the man as saying, 'Hindustan means Dostanto, the world, a great land that is friend to the entire duniya,' adding, 'It's a wonderful country, so many languages, religions, different people in a vast area, yet you are keeping them all together. You have so much to give to the world; I wish you make the entire world a Hindustan! Then there will be no problem. You can teach all how to live together.'

Vijay referred to his courtesy call on a renowned and highly-acclaimed literary figure of Iran, Mohammad-Ali Mo'allem Damghani, president of The Iranian Academy of Arts, and a personage considered to be a close aide to the supreme Iranian leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

'We discussed literature and the ancient threads that bind us together for more than an hour. He presented me a fabulously-produced limited edition of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh. And yes, another very special book, a Persian version of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Devdas, translated into that language by Fatemeh Hashemnejad.'

'Iran continued to remind me of old Persia and all its richness - the fragrance of each gulaab (rose water), the redolent recitations of the works of Ferdowsi and Hafez Shirazi and, no less, the epic Iranian mural that looks down from the ceiling of Rashtrapati Bhavan's grand Ashok Hall. Each time I attend a swearing-in ceremony there, I stare at the sheer beauty of that work. And some other paintings of Iranian origin that adorn the walls of the hallowed hall.'

He wrote that the three-day long stay in Iran just a few weeks ago changed a lot of my perceptions about that country, its people and culture. 'Iran, as routinely reported to us by the Western government and media agencies, is everything that stands against human values and democratic practices. Is that stereotype true? Should I not say something about what I saw and experienced for myself?'

Iran must be seen and understood by Indians through Indian eyes. Iran is a people, a tehzeeb that defines itself in unmatched subtlety and finesse; it's a poet's dream, it's dance, it's drama, it's fun. It is a land of unparalleled brilliance and beauty. We in India might still be debating about our Aryan roots, but Iran is sure and proud to be an Aryan land. That name itself - Iran - is directly derived from the word Aryan.'

Saying that Iran is 'different from every other Muslim land - so distinctly refreshing and civilized that it cannot but strike a visitor. It reminds you that whatever form of extremism tries to envelop a society, the soul of a people finds its expression in a thousand beautiful ways.'

We could see a softer, liberal, open side of Iranian society, a side not often showcased. Restaurants were as noisy and chaotic as in Calcutta or Bangalore, rolling with Cokes and pastas and all manner of kebabs. A large number of cars on the roads were driven by women, who not just waved at our visiting caravan but also shouted with their necks out - 'Hello! Welcome to Iran!'

Visiting the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient city of the Persians - the Parsis - also known as Takht-e-Jamshid, was an amazing experience. It reminded us of the vast empire once ruled by King Darius and Cyrus the Great. They have pioneered and contributed to the India growth story.

Contemporary Islamic Iran has kept its ancient pre-Islamic heritage preserved with such touching care and pride that we can learn a few things from them.

'Another revealing moment for me was paying obeisance at a Hindu temple and a gurdwara - both on the same campus - at Bandar Abbas; these structures are meticulously preserved and maintained by the Iranian government's culture department.'

He wrote, 'What I found incredible throughout our trip was the spontaneous show of warmth and friendship by the Iranian people. We had been fed a very different perception all this while. And had we not experienced it for ourselves, Iran first hand, we would probably have laughed away even the suggestion of what we came across as false or propagandist.'

All of this came to transpire along the 7,200-kilometre INSTC, which has been receiving the focused attentions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin for obvious reasons.

India's help in developing Iran's Chabahar port is a milestone in the overall development of the International North�South Transport Corridor (INSTC). It received a boost during Modi's Tehran visit and, in more than one way, it underlines the critical importance of India-Iran cooperation.

Although the American sanctions have wrecked the Iranian economy, 'everyone should trust that for Delhi, the road to Tehran doesn't pass through Washington DC. Our relations with the Persian people go beyond strategic needs.'

'It's a matter of the heart,' he wrote that his journey to Iran was also a matter of 'de-learning some things and weaving something new.'

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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