Radio Zamaaneh reports that Khamenei has denounced the festival of Chahar Shanbe Soori, marking the start of Iranian New Year celebrations:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei described the ceremonies connected with the fire festival on the last Wednesday Eve of the Iranian year “void of religious roots and cause of great harm and corruption.”

The religious evaluation of Iran’s Supreme Leader was published on his official site and goes on to add that Iranians must “avoid” celebrating this event.

This fire festival, which is called Chaharshanbeh Souri, is an ancient Iranian pagan festival which involves the building of bonfires and symbolic gestures and chants that summon the fire to burn all sickness and lend its energy to a healthy new year.

A number of Shiite clerics have described the event “superstitious” and called for its dismantlement.

IRNA reports that another senior Shiite Cleric Ayatollah Sobhani has also spoken against the events of the last Wednesday Eve of the year and maintained that it is “a superstitious event and its customs are contrary to Islam and logic.”

He says: “The customs connected with the last Wednesday Eve of the year as it has become customary in Iran are backward and the harms are evident to all.”

Hashem Hoseini Boshehri,a member of Qom Seminary Teachers, has also announced that the events of last Wednesday Eve of the year “have no logical or religious basis.”

Iranian opposition forces have announced that they will take part in the events of the last Wednesday Eve of the year, which falls on March 16, and use it as an opportunity to reaffirm their protests against the current government which they claim has come to power through election fraud last June.

These protests have continued in the past nine months and during this time, protesters have used specific dates of national significance in the Iranian calendar to take to the streets and express their demands.

Iranian police force has warned the public that anyone arrested during these events would not be released until after the Nowruz holidays.

Opposition leader, MirHosein Mousavi has urged protesters not to use this day to stage protests to avoid hardliners from the turning the events into a violent confrontation.