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Nowruz-Norooz-Nouruz-No-Rooz-Nowroz-Nowrouz-Noroz-Nouruz-Nourooz

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:24 pm
by Parvaneh
Name: Nowrūz (Persian: نوروز‎, IPA: [nouˈɾuːz], meaning "[The] New Day")

ِDiscibtion:

The oldest of Iranian traditions, Nowruz (also referred to as eyd-i sar-i sal and eyd-i sal-i now) recalls the cosmological and mythological times of Iran.[1] Its founder is a deputy of Ahura Mazda on earth, a position that imparts to him and the celebration a spiritual dimension and a particular sense of secular authority.[2] The celebration is organized according to the dynamics of love between the Creator and his creation, the material world. The annual return of the spirits of the departed to their homes is celebrated by their offspring according to primordial rites of which only a faint trace remains among the Persians and the Parsees[3] of today. That, however, in no way diminishes the importance of the bond that is refreshed at every Nowruz.

The word "Nowruz" is a compound of two Persian words, "now," which has the same etymology as the English word "new" and means new, and the word "ruz," which means both "day" and "time." Literally meaning the "new day," nowruz is usually translated as "new year." The Persian Nowruz begins on the first day of spring (usually the 21st of March).[4] The 21st of March, therefore, is equal to the 1st day of Farvardin of the Islamic solar calendar. [5]

In the mind of Iranians, the word nowruz invokes colorful images that are sumptuous, elegant, and opulent as well as delightfully simple, refreshing, and cordial. Although colored with vestiges of Iran's Mazdian and Zoroastrian past, the Nowruz celebration is neither religious nor national in nature, nor is it an ethnic celebration. Jewish, Zoroastrian, Armenian, and Turkish Iranians and Central Asians celebrate the Nowruz with the same enthusiasm and sense of belonging.[6] Perhaps it is this very universal nature of the message of Nowruz that speaks to its wealth of rites and customs as well as to its being identified as the unique fount of continuity of the Iranian culture. These rituals were particularly important at the court of the King of Kings.[7]

On the occasion of the Nowruz, the Chief Priest becomes the first from among the people not directly related to the court to greet the King of Kings.[8] Once in the Great Hall, he approaches the throne with a golden goblet full of red wine in one hand and a fistful of green sprouts in the other. Accompanying him are servants carrying an enormous amount of gifts including a gold ring, gold coins, a sword, a bow and arrows, and a pen and inkpot, a horse, an eagle, and a beautiful youth. When he reaches the royal space, he stands at a prescribed distance and performs the Nowruz ritual of wishing the King and the Kingdom long life and prosperity. He then tastes the wine, approaches the King with slow steps, stretches his arm and respectfully hands the goblet over to the King. Then, slowly, with his other hand, he places in the King’s other hand, the green sprouts. All the time reciting a benediction and wishing the King happiness, gladness, and joy for the coming year. When the benediction is over, he steps aside, walks back in slow motion and bids the servants to place the items that they have brought as gifts in their prescribed places before the King.[9] Then, following the priest’s example, princes, governors, nobles, and dignitaries shower the King with their gifts. Each king, prince, and nobleman at court repeats the priest’s last act of homage and wishes for the King happiness in the coming year. Throughout the day, then, a never-ending line parades before the King.[10]

Preparation for Welcoming the Nowruz

Sabzeh and Khane Tekani

Preparation for the Nowruz begins early in March with sprouting of sabzeh (lentil, wheat, or barley seeds) and a thorough khane tekani (house cleaning). The former harks back to the agrarian background of the Iranian tribes that celebrated the main transitions in the climate that dictated the dynamics of their lives. The latter, that entails washing carpets, painting the house, and cleaning the yard and the attic, stems from the Zoroastrians' preoccupation with cleanliness as a measure for keeping Evil away from the kingdom of Good.[11]

Symbolically, khane tekani signals to the spirits of the ancestors that their kinfolk are ready and willing to entertain them. In other words, they are invited to descend on their previous homes to help them nourish the growth of the sabzeh, the main source of their sustenance that has been depleted during the long and cold days of winter.

Kharid-i Nowruz

The sprouting of seeds and house cleaning are followed by kharid-i Nowruzi (New Year shopping). Nowruz shopping, a family affair performed mostly to engage the children in the celebration, must include all the members. Everyone must be measured and outfitted with new clothes, shoes, hats, and the like. In addition, as we shall see below, the sofreh (Nowruz display cloth) requires certain items—sweetmeats, confectioneries, candles, fruits, and nuts—which also are bought at this time. In addition to what is bought, women of the household bake various types of sweet breads and sew special clothes for the little ones. At the end, a trip must be made to the bank for acquiring shiny, new coins and crisp, fresh banknotes to give out as eydi (gift) and for the sofreh.

Khwajah Piruz (Haji Firuz)

The month during which Nowruz celebrations are held is an extraordinary time in the life of the community. In ancient times, this aspect of Nowruz was so prominent that the mayors of towns were literally displaced by the most victorious person in carrying out the commands of Ahura Mazda and his six Spentas (holy immortal). This victorious (piruz) khwaja, or lord, was given the rule of the realm for the period. As a part of his duties, Khwaja Piruz saw to it that all the people of the realm were provided with the amenities and joy that were due them. In time, especially after the fall of Iran to the Arabs, who would not relinquish rule to defeated foes, the office of Khwaja Piruz deteriorated into its Arabized form, Haji Firuz. Only the duty of stimulating laughter and providing a good time has remained of what must have been a complex set of social affairs. Today, Haji Firuz is no more than a spectacle that occurs during the last few weeks before Nowruz. He and his troupe of musicians appear on the streets and alleyways all over the country.


Known as the traditional herald of the Nowruz, Haji Firuz is a black-faced character clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat playing a tambourine and singing, "haji firuze, sali ye ruze." (It is Haji Firuz time. It happens one day a year!). People of all ages gather around him and his troupe of musicians and listen to them play the drum, saz or kamancheh, and dance. Those who are impressed with the troupe's performance shower it with coins and paper money.

Often, well-to-do Iranians invite Haji Firuz to their homes to perform for their wives and daughters who would otherwise never see Haji Firuz in action on the street. Here, the group plays popular folk music, performs a variety of comic routines, and tells jokes. At the end of the performance, the members are invited to a nice Nowruz meal and are handsomely compensated for their contribution with an eydi (Nowruz gift).

Charshanbe Souri

The actual Nowruz ceremonies begin on the eve of the last Wednesday of the out-going year. Early in the evening of that day, referred to as charshanbe souri or "Red Wednesday," several rather large bonfires are made. Every member of the family jumps over the fire and says, "sorkhi-e to az man, zardi-e man az to," which literally means "Give me your redness and take away my wintry sallow complexion". The jumping over the fire is followed by a get together in which nuts and fruits are served. This party is mostly for the benefit of the children of the family who are entertained, long into the night, with stories that they will remember with joy throughout their lives.[12]

While the party goes on, the fire dies out. The ashes are gathered and, as the symbol of the bad luck imposed by winter, are taken out of the house and buried in the fields. When the person in charge of burying the ashes returns and knocks on the door, those who are in the house ask, "Who is it?"

"It is I," says the person returning.
"Where are you coming from?"
"From a wedding," is the response.
"What are you bringing with you?" is the last question.
"Happiness and mirth," is the response.

Only then the door is opened and the herald of the new life, who has warded off the bad omen and the evil eye, is ushered in.

Fire is of particular significance in ancient Iranian cultures. The charshanbe souri fire might have been related to the signals sent to the spirits of the departed to guide them to their previous abodes to enjoy the prayers that their descendants perform for their benefit. The fact that traditionally the fires were lit on the roofs of houses speaks directly to the necessity of the fire to be distinct and visible.

Qashoq zani

As part of the charshanbe souri festivities, and very much like Halloween, children—sometimes accompanied by adults—visit their neighbors' houses in disguise. The disguise is usually something like a veil (chador) covering the entire body. Each member of the party carries an empty metal bowl and a metal spoon. At the neighbor's door, they create a chorus with banging the spoons on the bowl and on the door. The neighbor opens the door and places a treat in each visitor's bowl. The party then proceeds to the next house. As a rule, the members of the party must remain silent and anonymous throughout the process. Often boys and girls, who otherwise would have no occasion to see each other, meet across the threshold.[13]

Falgush

A more culturally interesting aspect of the charshanbe souri celebration is the falgush performed by girls in their teens and young unmarried women. For this, the teenagers, or the unmarried women, huddle in the corners of dark alleys and listen to the conversations of passersby. The contents of the first sentence of a conversation exchanged is regarded as an omen (fal) or portent for the future. For instance, if a young girl, who hopes to get married sometime during the next year, hears the following, "There is no way that any sane person would say no to such an offer..." she would be elated. Conversely, if she hears something like, "Do you think we didn't try? It's like talking to a brick wall,..." she would be utterly disappointed.

Tup-i Morvari

Tup-i Morvari, or pearl cannon, was a large cannon kept at the Arg (citadel) of Tehran. Studded with pearls, the cannon was rolled out on charshanbe souri night. Tehrani women, wishing to get married in the coming year, climbed on the cannon and walked under it hoping that their wish would come true.[14]

Gereh Gushai

Those who have encountered problems for which there have been no solution often stop the first passerby crossing their path and ask him or her to undo a knot they have tied in a shirt tale. The willingness or unwillingness of the strange passerby to undo the knot is an omen for the resolution of the problem in the coming year.
Pishvaz-i Nowruz

Still as a part of the charshanbe souri festivities the family places several low-denomination coins (pul-i siyah), a piece of charcoal, seeds of the wild rue, and a piece of rock salt in a new earthen water jar. Then, the jar is taken up to the roof and from the edge of the roof the contents of the jar are tossed into the street. While filling the jar the person says, "My pains and misfortunes into the jar!" and when tossing the contents, says, "My pains and misfortunes onto the street!" Serving as a preventative measure, the items in the jar have the power to foil any attempt by Evil at harming the family during the coming year. Often, water is also added to the contents to aid the absorption of evil and to make it sink deeper into the ground.

Shab-i Jom'e

The dinner for the Thursday before Nowruz must include pilau and chicken. Fulfilling this ritual assures one that there will be a similar dinner at least once a week during the coming year.

Sofreh-i Nowruz

A few days before the arrival of Nowruz, a rather large tablecloth is spread on the floor of the main room of the house and the following items are placed on it:[15]

Lighted candles, which represent the goodness and warmth that enters life with the coming of spring and the dissipation of evil that has had the world in its cold grip, are placed on the sofreh. In a large setting, an open fire would replace the candles. The number of the candles must be the same as the number of the offspring in the household. Often an egg accompanies each candle. It should be mentioned that the candles on displays must be allowed to burn themselves out. It is bad luck to blow out a candle.

A copy of al-Qur'an (holy book of the Muslims) or the Avesta (holy book of the Zoroastrians) or the Bible or the Torah (depending on the faith to which the family belongs) is placed in a prominent place on the sofreh. The holy scripture refreshes the bond between the faithful and the source of good emanating from the light.

Haftsin or seven edible things the names of which in Persian begin with the letter "sin" or "s" are placed in a tray or otherwise placed next to each other on the sofreh. Sib (apple), somaq (sumac), sir (garlic), samanu (a paste made with wheat sprouts), senjed (jujube fruit), sohan (a candy made with honey and nuts), siyahdane (sesame seeds), serke (vinegar), and sangak (bread baked on a bed of rocks) are the usual edible items from among which seven are chosen.[16] Since the edible items on the haft-sin are not to be eaten until after the change of seasons, often non-edibles such as sekke (coins), sonbol (hyacinth), spand (the wild rue), sepestan (sebestens), samovar (samovar), sa'at (clock), or sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts) are substituted. The seven "sin"s symbolically recall Ahura Mazda and the six Amesha Spentas who help him regulate the affairs of man according to the "din" or order prescribed by Ahura Mazda's Ahuric Order. It should be added that today the seven "sin"s are interpreted rather differently, as the following example illustrates:

Samanu sweetness, fertility, having many children

Senjed love

Sir medicine for recovering from evil

Sib health, natural beauty, fragrance

Somaq color of the sun at sunrise

Serkeh age and patience; wards off bitterness in life

Sabzeh purity, opulence, and good fortune[17]


Even though no particular authority has sanctioned these items, and they are not based on any overall analysis of the theological and/or cosmological values that ancient Iranians might have had for them, more often than not, the general public follows these interpretations. What else could an apt interpretation of sekke (coin) in this context be but affluence, wealth, and prosperity? Ironically, this is one of the "s's" that comes into fruition right after the tahvil-i sal. Coins equalling the number of family members are distributed among the members by the family patriarch (grandfather or father).[18]

Additionally, it is said that in pre-Islamic times, haft-sin could have been haft-shin—shir (milk), shekar (sugar), shahd (nectar), sharbat (compote), shane (comb), sharab (wine), and sham' (candle). "Shin" has been changed to "sin" to accommodate Islam's disapproval of sharab or wine. Why that one item could not have been replaced with a different item beginning with "shin" is not known.[19]

Other traditions relate haft-sin or haft-shin to seven trays (sini) filled with seven delicious food items or seven different growing seeds, or seven varieties of nuts offered to the king. Others consider the seven "s's" to have been Life, Health, Happiness, Prosperity, Joy, and Beauty, all forming the seventh "s" which, according to Zoroastrian traditions, represents Truth.

Still others contend that while the first tray to Ahura Mazda was empty (Truth is a combination of things with no substance of its own), the other six trays were filled with flowers, sugar, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream, eggs, water, mirrors, candelabra, burning coal, silver, and gold. These items, according to this belief, represent Truth, Good thought, Dominion, Piety, Prosperity, Immortality, and Obedience.[20]


Those who are more serious about Nowruz will not choose any of the following for their haft sin display:

Sonbol (hyacinth), sekkeh (coin), samovar (device for boiling water in preparation for tea), sikh (skewer), sepayeh (tripod), sarv (cypress), santur (a type of musical instrument), sangak (a type of bread roasted on hot rocks), sohan (a kind of sweets), sa'at (clock), etc.

There are a number of reasons why these items often appear on the sofreh as a part of the haft sin. They are chosen because one or other of the ingredients is not readily available. Therefore, traditionally these items have been, unwillingly, accepted as replacements for items that are hard to come by. This is more the case when Nowruz is celebrated outside of its original home, Iran, where all the haft sin items discussed below are found in abundance.


The Haft Sin

The items enumerated above are not chosen by those who take Nowruz seriously because those items do not meet the five requirements for acceptance of the "sin"s for the haft sin. The requirements are:



1. The item should begin with the letter "sin"

This is the easiest requirement and it is the first thing that people know about the haft sin. In fact, this is the criterion that all the items listed above meet.

2. The item chosen should be a part of the Persian

culture. For instance, sonbol is Arabic, samovar is Russian, etc. They do not meet requirement #2

3. The item should be edible

4. The item should be of plant origin

For instance, sarv (cypress) is of plant origin but it does not meet requirement #3

5. The item should not be a compound noun, such as sibzamini (potato) or sabzi polo (cooked rice with vegetables)

These restrictions, however, are overt requirements. The covert requirements are more fundamental. They are cultural constraints imposed by the ancient religion. In fact, those are the main reasons for which ancient Persians created the haft sin in the first place and made it the centerpiece of their most important annual celebration. It was with the help of these primordial symbols that, on that auspicious day, they welcomed the seven "sin"s into their homes. In the following poem, Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi speaks about the seven "sin"s:

Row sine ra chun "sin"ha

Haft ab shui as kinha

Vangah sharab-i ishq ra

Peymane show peymane show


Cleanse your heart from vengeance,

Like the "sin"s, with seven waters.

Then, for the wine of love,

Become a cup, become a cup!

The seven "sin"s that Rumi speaks about are the seven Spentas (holy immortals). Actually, they are Ahura Mazda, the wise Lord, and his six archangels worshiped by ancient Iranians. On the occasion of the Nowruz, Ahura Mazda and his Spentas were invoked by ancient Iranians. On their welcoming display, they were given the most prominent spot. This is how ancient Iranians understood their haft sin.


1. Ahura Mazda, the chief deity encompassing the sky, and their defender against Ahriman (evil). He is represented by sir (garlic), a plant the roots of which contain cures for many ailments.

In the placement of the "s"s, sir is placed in the center.


2. Vohu Manah, representative of water, the second element in the order of creation after the sky, and of rain. Water is also that which erodes and flattens. Its representative on the display is sumagh (sumac).


3. Spenta Armaiti, the female representative of earth and symbol of humility and benevolence. She is represented by sib (apple).


4. Asha Vahishta, representative of the green meadows and fertile fields. Sabzi (vegetable) represents Asha Vahishta on the haft sin display.


5. Khshathra Vairya, or choice dominion, is when the building blocks of life are put in place. It is the time of germination of life, plant, and animal. A sweet dessert, samanu, is made of wheat germ and placed among the haft sin.

6. Haurvatat represents struggle for wholeness, health, and perfection. Senjed, a most wholesome fruit, represents Haurvatat on the display.


7. Ameretat represents the goal of creation, immortality. Its representative on the display is serke (vinegar), the immortal soulmate of wine extracted from grapes.[21]


These seven "sin"s that have passed the test of the five requirements for being placed on the sofreh cannot have an eighth because, besides Lord Mazda and his six Spentas, there are no other archangels, or angels, in the pantheon that are acceptable.


Haft shin, Haft chin, other Clusters of Seven

It was mentioned above that in some circles, it is believed that after the Arab conquest the letter "shin" replaced the letter "sin". It should be explained that after the demise of Zoroastrianism in Iranian domains, a policy went into effect that required all Iran's cultural legacy be deemphasized. This policy was also intended to relegate Iran's cherished celebrations to oblivion. As a result of this policy, references to Iran's cultural heritage were explained by Muslim overlords, especially prominent religious figures, with appropriate and logical explanations, but not with the correct and true explanation. The explanations were contextualized in a way that they were understandable and acceptable to the general public. Often pamphlets were written to explain involved subjects and, on occasions, a sonnet or a quatrain such as the following did the trick:

Jashn-i nowruz az zaman-i kiyan

Minahadand mardom-i Iran

Sham' u shir u sharab u shirini

Shikar u shahd u shaye andar khan[22]

From the time of the Kiyanian[23]

Iranians celebrated the Nowruz.

On the display they placed

sham', shir, sharab, shirini, shikar, shahd, and shaye.[24]

This poem explains that, originally, haft sin had been haft shin. Because Islam frowns upon drinking wine, after the Muslim conquest, the seven "shin"s have been changed to seven "sin"s. Logically, this makes a lot of sense. The only problem is that, in addition to the fact that these seven elements do not represent the ancient Iranian deities discussed above and their relation to the "s"s in the haft sin, the words used in the poem are not ancient Iranian words. For instance, the ancient Iranian word for wine is not sharab, it is badeh. Similarly, the ancient Iranian word for candle is not sham', it is spandar. The very etymology of the words used indicates that the explanation is a post-Islamic attempt at explaining a complex Iranian phenomenon. It also indicates that, unlike Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi, who knew about the exact nature of the "sin"s, this poet did not have a clue as to the origin of either the haft sin or the Nowruz display.


The Sofreh Arrangement

A mirror placed on the sofreh face up with a plain hard-boiled egg placed on the middle of it.

A bowl of clear water with an orange and a leaf of a rose bush floating in it.

Live goldfish in a bowl of clear water.

The barley, lentil, or wheat sprouts that had been growing since early March decorated with a red ribbon around the outside and an orange seated in the center.


In addition to these, there are representatives of the other kingdoms sustaining life on earth, i.e., products from the animal kingdom in the form of cheese and yogurt, the plant kingdom in the form of flour, vegetables, rice, and of the water kingdom in the form of the goldfish are also placed on the sofreh. Pomegranates and pussy willows also are sometimes seen. The latter is especially important as it blossoms at this very time of the year.[25]

An upright mirror and plenty of colored eggs, cookies, and various types of fruits and sweets, candies, and nuts are added to decorate the sofreh.

Sa'at-i tahvil

Sa'at-i tahvil means the hour during which the old year ends and the new year begins. In an Iranian house, during the Nowruz celebration, sa'at-i tahvil is a most crucial moment in the life of the family, especially with regard to forgiving past failings, putting away petty frictions that would otherwise fester into conflicts, and looking forward to more constructive relations. And, of course, this is the moment when the egg rolls on the mirror and the orange flips over in the bowl of water. The moment is announced by the resounding boom of cannons fired in the square, by a brief speech delivered by the leader of the nation, and by the debut of a popular song contributed by a popular favorite artist.

Just before the change of the year, all members of the family, in their new clothes and holding a new coin in their hand for good luck, gather around the haft-sin display and, quietly and patiently, watch the solitary white egg on the mirror. Each one imagines a huge bullfish in the ocean of time carrying the world on one of its horns. Any moment now, the bullfish will toss the world over to the other horn, resulting in a tremor that will dislodge the egg and send it rolling to the side of the mirror.

As soon as the egg rolls, the members of the family, rejoicing, kiss each other, exchange Nowruz greetings, eid-i shoma mobarak! (May you have an auspicious new year!), exchange gifts, and proceed, especially in the case of children, to make the rounds of the elders of the family first and of the neighborhood.[26] Adults, too, have a set schedule of visits and of receiving visitors.

As a rule, the patriarch of the house stays home until all those younger, and lower in rank, than him come and pay their respects, then he would return those visits. Visits are short. Sweets and tea are the most often served items. The rounds of visitations might last as long as thirteen days.

Beliefs attached to Sa'at-i tahvil

Several beliefs related to sa'at-i tahvil are interesting. The first thing to eat, for instance, should be an egg because it is believed that eggs ensure good fortune. In fact, in some traditions, the patriarch of the family must eat all the eggs that have accompanied the candles placed for each offspring on the sofreh! The first person entering the house after sa'at-i tahvil might decide the good or bad fortune that would visit the house in the next year. Often, a member of the family known to be blessed with good fortune is sent out to become the first visitor. Things brought into the house, especially their color, have the potential of influencing the course of the future of the family. The color white is regarded to be auspicious. Black is believed to be associated with grief and strife. Even the place where the individual is at sa'at-i tahvil is significant in that he or she might be stuck to that or a similar location for the entire duration of the coming year. In this context, therefore, one tends not to be anywhere near schools, offices, or the bazaar.


Sizdah Bedar

The Nowruz ceremonies end on the thirteenth day of the first month of the New Year. On that day almost all the people (except thieves!) leave the towns and villages and spend a day in the countryside enjoying the beautiful weather that accompanies the change of seasons. With them they bring the the sabzeh that had been displayed and throw it into running water. They hope that along with it, the sabzeh will take all the sins, worries, and concerns of the past year. The New Year then begins with a fresh slate on the 14th day of the month.[27]

With regard to the sabzeh, it should be noted that some rural folk might plant the sabzeh rather than throw it into running water. It should also be noted that one should not touch other peoples' sabzeh on that day. Before the sabzeh is thrown, girls at the age of being married, and unmarried women, often tie the blades of the sabzeh saying, "sal-i digar, khane-i showhar, bachcheh dar baghal!" (Let next year find me in my husband's house with a baby in my arms!"

Alak Dolak

Alak Dolak is a children's game versions of which are also played by grownups. The number of players can be anywhere from two to ten. The game described below is played by two players.

Items needed:

1. Two pieces of wood.

a. alak is a piece of wood about eight inches long and half an inch thick

b. dolak is a piece of straight wood about two and a half feet long and about an inch thick

c. two bricks or similar rocks

Players:

1. batter, uses the dolak and hits the alak

2. catcher, tries to catch the alak and then throw it at the dolak

How to play:

1. The two bricks are placed parallel on the ground. They should be high enough for the tip of the dolak to comfortably fit under the alak and lift it.

2. The alak is placed across the bricks

3. With the tip of the dolak, the batter flips the alak into the air.

4. As the alak twirls, the batter hits it very hard

5. On the other side, the catcher tries to catch the alak as it approaches him

6. The batter places the dolak alongside the bricks so that the tip of the dolak touches the end of one of the bricks on the side he is standing

7. The catcher throws the alak and tries to hit the dolak, which is on the ground by the bricks

Possibilities

1. The catcher fails to catch the alak in the air

2. The catcher catches the alak in the air but fails to strike the dolak by the bricks

3. The catcher catches the alak in the air and strikes the dolak by the bricks

Reward and penalty

In the case of (1), the play is repeated

In the case of (2), the catcher and the batter change places

In the case of (3), the batter pays a penalty

The batter has to carry the catcher on his back from the bricks to the place where the alak was caught.

The game goes on with the catcher as batter.

Varieties of this game are played during sizdah bedar with members of different families participating in the competition.

Eydi, Hediye or Kado (gifts)

Nowruz visits may include exchange of gifts. Exchange of gifts, however, should not be confused with eydi (New-Year gift), which can take a number of forms depending on circumstances. Within the family, the head of the household may give either coins or new bank notes of certain value to the members of his family or to visitors as eydi. The coins may be gold, silver or of some special make. On Nowruz day, the family may stage a small "money-hunting" game. This is very much like finding Easter eggs in the grass. The money, however, is usually placed under the edges of carpets in various rooms in the house.

Nowruz visitors during the early days of the celebration are children and young adults. They visit the older members as a sign of respect. Similarly, employees visit their bosses and directors at this time. The reason for the lack of such a visit is usually interpreted as the existence of some deep-rooted hostility or hatred on the part of a young family member or an employee. The visitors do not bring any gifts but may receive a gift. During the latter part of the twelve-day Nowruz celebration, the older members of the family visit the younger members. This visit may include gifts, usually larger gifts like carpets and cars, as eydi. Bosses and directors often delay a promotion to be given as an eydi to a deserving employee on the occasion of the Nowruz.

In modern times, Nowruz visits have expanded into parties. Some of these parties are communal in nature. Members of the Iranian society organize them. They charge a fee for food and drinks. Other similar parties welcome the guests as "members" of the family. In the latter situation, it is appropriate to bring a gift. The gifts given usually include, but are not restricted to, confectioneries, especially gaz made in Isfahan or sohan made in the holy city of Qom. Although, even in Iran, these sweets are not made at home, they are available from Iranian specialty shops in most major cities. Other types of sweets, pistachio nuts, dried nuts and fruits, books, flowers, and liquor (outside Iran) are also appropriate gifts for the occasion.

http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/No ... troduction

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No-Rooz, The Iranian New Year at Present Times

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:32 pm
by Parvaneh
No-Rooz, in word, means "New Day". It is the new day that starts the year, traditionally the exact astronomical beginning of the Spring. Iranians take that as the beginning of the year. This exact second is called "Saal Tahvil". No-Rooz with its' uniquely Iranian characteristics has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian (This was the religion of ancient Persia before the advent of Islam in 7th century A.D.).

Iranians consider No-Rooz as their biggest celebration of the year, before the new year, they start cleaning their houses (Khaane Tekaani), and they buy new clothes. But a major part of New Year rituals is setting the "Haft Seen" with seven specific items. In ancient times each of the items corresponded to one of the seven creations and the seven holy immortals protecting them. Today they are changed and modified but some have kept their symbolism. All the seven items start with the letter "S"; this was not the order in ancient times. These seven things usually are: Seeb (apple), Sabze (green grass), Serke (vinager), Samanoo (a meal made out of wheat), Senjed (a special kind of berry), Sekke (coin), and Seer (garlic). Sometimes instead of Serke they put Somagh (sumak, an Iranian spice). Zoroastrians today do not have the seven "S"s but they have the ritual of growing seven seeds as a reminder that this is the seventh feast of creation, while their sprouting into new growth symbolized resurrection and eternal life to come.

Wheat or lentil representing new growth is grown in a flat dish a few days before the New Year and is called Sabzeh (green shoots). Decorated with colorful ribbons, it is kept until Sizdah beh dar, the 13th day of the New Year, and then disposed outdoors. A few live gold fish (the most easily obtainable animal) are placed in a fish bowl. In the old days they would be returned to the riverbanks, but today most people will keep them. Mirrors are placed on the spread with lit candles as a symbol of fire. Most of the people used to place Qoran on their Sofreh (spread) in order to bless the New Year. But some people found another alternative to Qoran and replaced it by the Divan-e Hafez (poetry book of Hefez), and during "Saal Tahvil" reading some verses from it was popular. Nowadays, a great number of Iranians are placing Shahnameh (the Epic of Kings) of Ferdowsi on their spread as an Iranian national book. They believe that Shahnameh has more Iranian identity values and spirits, and is much suitable for this ancient celebration.


"Sizdah-Bedar" After the Saal Tahvil, people hug and kiss each other and wish each other a happy new year. Then they give presents to each other (traditionally cash, coins or gold coins), usually older ones to the younger ones. The first few days are spent visiting older members of the family, relatives and friends. Children receive presents and sweets, special meals and "Aajil" (a combination of different nuts with raisins and other sweet stuff) or fruits are consumed. Traditionally on the night before the New Year, most Iranians will have Sabzi Polo Mahi, a special dish of rice cooked with fresh herbs and served with smoked and freshly fried fish. Koukou Sabzi, a mixture of fresh herbs with eggs fried or baked, is also served. The next day rice and noodles (Reshteh Polo) is served. Regional variations exist and very colorful feasts are prepared.

The 13th day of the new year is called "Sizdah Bedar" and spent mostly outdoors. People will leave their homes to go to the parks or local plains for a festive picnic. It is a must to spend Sizdah Bedar in nature. This is called Sizdah Bedar and is the most popular day of the holidays among children because they get to play a lot! Also in this day, people throw the Sabze away, they believe Sabze should not stay in the house after "Sizdah Bedar". Iranians regard 13th day as a bad omen and believe that by going into the fields and parks they avoid misfortunes. It is also believed that unwed girls can wish for a husband by going into the fields and tying a knot between green shoots, symbolizing a marital bond.

Another tradition of the new year celebrations is "Chahar-Shanbeh Soori". It takes place before Saal Tahvil, at the last Wednesday of the old year, well actually Tuesday night! People set up bon fire, young and old leap over the fires with songs and gestures of merriment like:
(Sorkhi-e to az man) Give me your beautiful red color
(Zardi-e man az to) And take back my sickly pallor!

It means: I will give you my yellow color (sign of sickness), and you give me your fiery red color (sign of healthiness). This is a purification rite and 'suri' itself means red and fiery.
No-Rooz Greetings:
No-Rooz Mobarak (Happy No-Rooz, Happy New Year);
Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak (Happy New Year to you);
No-Rooz Pirooz (Wishing you a Prosperous New Year);
Sad Saal be in Saal-ha (Wishing you 100 more Happy New Years).

After all No-Rooz is a fun time for all of the Iranians, old and young.
- See more at: http://iranchamber.com/culture/articles ... Usee3.dpuf


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No-Rooz, The Zarathushtrian New Year

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:05 am
by Parvaneh
Calendar
Almost all of us know that the year is approximately 365.25 days long. All of us know that the seasons are regular and March means the coming of spring, June the beginning of summer, September the beginning of fall, and December means the coming of winter.

Many know that spring begins with the vernal equinox on about 21 March, summer with the summer solstice or about 22 June, fall with the autumnal equinox on about 23 September, and winter with the winter solstice on about 23 December.

Some know that the "tropical," solar, or seasonal year is of exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45.5 seconds, or 365.2422454 days, that one day is added every four years to compensate for the loss of four 5 hr 48 min 45.5 sec, that each of the equinoxes and solstices have their precise time of beginning pre-calculated and published by many world observatories and other astronomical establishments, and that the astronomical and astrological worlds follow the tropical year.

Very few know that the official Iranian and Afghani calendars, both of Zarathushtrian origin, are tropical. Only a small number of us know that if the beginning of the year is considered from the precise start of vernal equinox, there shall never be any need to have a leap year at all -- the reason why the ancient Zarathushtrians did not have it!

The Iranians of old had a tropical calendar for many centuries. The downfall of the Sassanian Empire in 7th century disrupted the astronomical structure of the religion and the state. The 365-day year, followed by the majority of Zoroastrians in India and Pakistan with little astronomical knowledge, for the last eleven hundred years has advanced the calendar to where No-Rooz now occurs in the late summer. However, almost all Zarathushtis in Iran and a minority of Parsis of India and Pakistan follow the "Fasli" or seasonal calendar. It is an almost tropical calendar. It is corrected by observing the leap year.

Meanwhile, although Iranians, converted to Islam, observed and are observing the Muslim lunar calendar for religious purposes, the Iranian calendar was soon restored within a century for administrative and economical reasons.

Legend and History
No-Rooz in Persian means "New[-year]-day". It is the beginning of the year for the people of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Tajikistan. Other Asian republics of the former Soviet Union are joining the group, and the latest report says that Turkey too has decided to declare No-Rooz a holiday. It is also celebrated as the new year by the people of the Iranian stock, particularly the Kurds, in the neighboring countries of Georgia, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. It begins precisely with the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on about March 21.

Tradition takes No-Rooz as far back as 15,000 years-before the last ice age. King Jamshid (Yima or Yama of the Indo-Iranian lore) symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry and a more settled life in human history. Seasons played a vital part then. Everything depended on the four seasons. After a sever winter, the beginning of spring was a great occasion with mother nature rising up in a green robe of colorful flowers and the cattle delivering their young. It was the dawn of abundance. Jamshid symbolizes the person/people who introduced No-Rooz celebrations.

Avestan and later scriptures show that Zarathushtra improved, as early as 1725 BCE, the old Indo-Iranian calendar. The prevailing calendar was luni-solar. The lunar year is of 354 days. An intercalation of one month after every thirty months kept the calendar almost in line with the seasons. Zarathushtra, the Founder of the Good Religion, himself an astronomer, founded an observatory and he reformed the calendar by introducing an eleven-day intercalary period to make it into a luni-solar year of 365 days, 5 hours and a fraction.

Later in the post-Gathic period, the year was made solely a solar year with each month of thirty days. An intercalation of five days was, and a further addition of one day every four years, was introduced to make the year 365 days, 5 hours, and a fraction. Still later, the calendar was further corrected to be a purely solar year of 365 days 5 hr 48 min 45.5 sec. The year began precisely with the vernal equinox every time and therefore, there was no particular need of adding one day every four years and there was no need of a leap year. This was [and still is] the best and most correct calendar produced that far.

Some 12 centuries later, in 487 BCE, Darius the Great of the Achaemenian dynasty (700 to 330 BCE) celebrated the No-Rooz at his newly built Persepolis in Iran. A recent research shows that it was a very special occasion. On that day, the first rays of the rising sun fell on the observatory in the great hall of audience at 06-30 a.m., an event that repeats itself once every 1400-1 years. It also happened to coincide with the Babylonian and Jewish new years. It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient peoples. The Persepolis was the place, the Achaemenian king received, on No-Rooz, his peoples from all over the vast empire. The walls of the great royal palace depict the scenes of the celebrations.

We know the Parthians (250 BCE to 224 CE) celebrated the occasion but we do not know the details. It should have, more or less, followed the Achaemenian pattern. During the Sassanian time (224 to 652 CE), preparations began at least 25 days before No-Rooz. Twelve pillars of mud bricks, each dedicated to one month of the year, were erected in the royal court. Various vegetable seeds-wheat, barley, lentils, beans, and others-were sown on top of the pillars. They grew into luxurious greens by the New Year Day.

The great king held his public audience and the High Priest of the empire was the first to greet him. Government officials followed next. Each person offered a gift and received a present. The audience lasted for five days, each day for the people of a certain profession. Then on the sixth day, called the Greater No-Rooz, the king held his special audience. He received members of the Royal family and courtiers. Also a general amnesty was declared for convicts of minor crimes. The pillars were removed on the 16th day and the festival came to a close. The occasion was celebrated, on a lower level, by all peoples throughout the empire.

Since then, the peoples of the Iranian culture, whether Zartoshtis, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha'is, or others, have, under Arab, Turk, Mongol, and Iranian rulers, celebrated No-Rooz precisely at the time of vernal equinox, the first day of the first month, on about March 21.

Zartoshtis have six seasonal thanksgiving festivals, called "Gahanbars," to celebrate in a year. Vernal Equinox, called Hamaspathmaidhaya in Avesta, meaning "Middle of Equal Paths," or in simpler rendering "vernal equinox" is the top celebration. It was called in later days as "Nava Saredha" and still later Now Sal, both meaning "New Year". Today it is known as No-Rooz, New Day. It is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

The early Zarathushtrians counted their era, the Zarathushtrian Religious Era (ZRE), from No-Rooz (vernal equinox) of 1737 BCE. It may be noted that the credit of precisely calculating ZRE goes to an Iranian scholar, the late Zabih Behruz. Right now, we are going through the last month of 3739 ZRE. It was practically revived by the Zarathushtrian Assembly 12 years ago and has been happily adopted by the Zartoshtis in Iran and abroad, including in North America.

The Zarathushtrian era was abandoned when the Achaemenian monarchy was influenced by the prevailing custom in the Mesopotamia. The year started with the accession to the throne of every monarch. That is the reason why Zoroastrians-followers of the Fasli (solar), the Shahenshahi (majority of Parsis), the Qadimi (a minority of Parsis and Iranis of India and Pakistan) calendar-have the Yazgerdi era, the year King Yazdgerd ascended the throne in 632 CE. Both Shahenshahi and Qadimi reckoning have a year of 365 days only. They have advanced almost seven months by gaining one day every four years. It means that they gave up the leap year (avardâd sâlgâh) about 852 years ago-in about 1150 CE. All Iranian Zoroastrians follow the Fasli, the seasonal or the solar calendar.

When Iranian Muslims returned to the solar year, they reckoned with the Hejra year in solar terms. It will be 1381 Khorshidi (solar) this No-Rooz. The months are Zoroastrians-Farvardin, Ordibehesht, Khordad, Tir etc.-in Iran and Zodiac months in Afghanistan.

No-Rooz Table
Every house gets a thorough cleaning almost a month before. Wheat, barley, lentils, and other vegetable seeds are soaked to grow on china plates and round earthenware vessels some ten days in advance, so that the sprouts are three to four inches in height by No-Rooz.

Today, the ceremony has been simplified. A table is laid. It has a copy of the sacred book (the Gathas for Zarathushtrians), picture of Zarathushtra (or a Saint's picture by other creeds), a mirror, candles, incense burner, bowl of water with live gold fish, the plates and vessels with green sprouts, flowers, fruits, coins, bread, sugar cone, various grains, fresh, colorfully painted boiled eggs like "Easter eggs," and above all, seven articles with their names beginning in Persian with the letter "S" (seen) or "SH" (sheen). The usual things with "S" are vinegar (serkeh), sumac (somâgh), garlic (sîr), samanu (consistency of germinating wheat), apple (sîb), senjed (sorb), and herbs (sabzi). Those with an initial letter "SH" include wine (sharâ), sugar (shakar), syrup (shîreh), honey (shahd), candy (shîrîni), milk (shîr), and rice pudding (shîr-berenj). The seven articles are prominently exhibited in small bowls or plates on the table.

The table is laid with a white cloth. White represents spotless purity.

Let me repeat the brief play put up by young members of the Zarathushtrian Assembly to define the significance of the seven plates of "S" and seven plates of "SH." The youngsters, dressed in tune with what they represent, tell us by themselves their own significance. Those with "S" inform us:

First Plate: I am "Serkeh," the vinegar. I am sour but I am a good preservative. I add taste to the things you want to preserve and relish. I symbolize tasty preservation.

Second Plate: I am "Sumac," exotic in my own way, I make your favorite kabobs have a tangy taste, a taste you relish. I symbolize taste.

Third Plate: I am "Sir," garlic. Some may not like my aroma and others love it. I lower blood pressure. I pacify. I symbolize peace.

Fourth Plate: I am "Samanu," a sweetish paste, a kind of "halwa," made from germinating wheat. I symbolize the sprouting spring, the time for happy growth.

Fifth Plate: I am "Sib," apple. I symbolize the fruits of our world, both literally and allegorically.

Sixth Plate: I am "Senjed," the tasteless berry of the sorb tree. I am the fruit of a tree which provides shade in summer. I symbolize the shelter and security you need when you want a rest.

Seventh Plate: I am "Sabzi," fresh green herbs. I come from green fields. I symbolize prosperity.

The seven plates with "SH" tell us:

First Plate: I am "Sharab," the wine. I am the nectar. I symbolize health and happiness, of course, if taken in moderation! To your health!

Second Plate: I am "Shakar," sugar. I give your favorite foods their sweetness. I symbolize sweetness.

Third Plate: I am "Shir," milk, the first food one tastes in this world. I symbolize nourishing food.

Fourth Plate: I am "Shireh," syrup. I am the sap, the fluid essential for life, health and vigor. I symbolize vigorous health.

Fifth Plate: I "Shahd," honey. I am the sweet produce of the cooperative bees. I symbolize the sweet result of teamwork.

Sixth Plate: I am "Shirini," candy, loved by those who have a sweet tooth. I simply symbolize sweetness with no sign of bitterness.

Seventh Plate: I am "Shir-Berenj," rice pudding, and a tasty food. I symbolize food for taste and health.

The copy of the Gathas symbolizes guidance for a good life. The picture of Asho Zarathushtra reminds us of the author of the Gathas, the founder of the Good Religion and the Conveyer of the Divine Message. The mirror reflects our past and shows us our present so that we thoughtfully plan our future. The candles are light, warmth, and energy to lead a righteous life that would, in turn, radiate light, give warmth, and provide energy for others. The incense burner gives the fragrance we need to meditate, pray to God, and ask for help and guidance. The gold fish symbolizes a happy life, full of activity and movement. The plates of green sprouts represent creativity and productivity, and so do the colorfully painted eggs.

As you see, the whole table is beautifully laid. It symbolizes the Message and the Messenger, light, reflection, warmth, life, love, joy, production, prosperity, and nature. It is, in fact, a very elaborate thanksgiving table for all the good and beautiful things bestowed by God.

Family members, all dressed in their best, sit around the table and eagerly await the announcement of the exact time of vernal equinox over radio or television. The head of the family recites the No-Rooz prayers, and after the time is announced, each member kisses the other and wishes a Happy No-Rooz. Elders give gifts to younger members. Next the rounds of visits to neighbors, relatives, and friends begin. Each visit is reciprocated.

Zarathushtra's Birthday and No-Rooz festival are celebrated by Zarathushtis at social centers on about 6 Farvardin (26 March).

Singing and dancing is, more or less for the first two weeks, a daily routine. The festivity continues for 12 days, and on the 13th morning, the mass picnic to countryside begins. It is called "Sizdeh-Bedar," meaning "thirteen-in-the-outdoors." Cities and villages turn into ghost towns with almost all the inhabitants gone to enjoy the day in woods and mountains along stream and riversides. People sing, dance, and make merry. Girls of marriageable age tie wild grass tops into knots and make a wish that the following No-Rooz may find them married and carrying their bonny babies!
- See more at: http://iranchamber.com/culture/articles ... 2EFBY.dpuf




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Re: Nowruz-Norooz-Nouruz

PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:20 pm
by Parvaneh
Norooz is the beginning of the year for the people of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Tajikistan and other common cultural heritage countries. It is also celebrated as the New Year by the people of the Iranian stock, particularly the Kurds, in the neighboring countries of Georgia, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. It begins precisely with the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on or about March 21st. The term Norooz in writing, first appeared in Persian records in the second century AD.


Tradition takes Norooz as far back as 15,000 years--before the last ice age. The Shahnameh, dates Norooz as far back to the time of Jamshid, who in Zoroastrian texts saved mankind from a killer winter that was destined to kill every living creature. The mythical Persian King Jamshid perhaps symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry and a more settled life in human history. In the Shahnameh and Iranian mythology, he is credited with the foundation of Norooz.



Avestan and later scriptures show that Zoroaster improved, as early as 1725 B.C., the old Indo-Iranian calendar. The prevailing calendar was lunisolar. The lunar year is of 354 days. An intercalation of one month after every thirty months kept the calendar almost in line with the seasons. Zoroaster, the Founder of the Good Religion, himself an astronomer, founded an observatory and he reformed the calendar by introducing an eleven-day intercalary period to make it into a lunisolar year of 365 days, 5 hours and a fraction. Later the year was made solely a solar year with each month of thirty days. An intercalation of five days, and a further addition of one day every four years, was introduced to make the year 365 days, 5 hours, and a fraction. Still later, the calendar was further corrected to be a purely solar year of 365 days 5 hr 48 min 45.5 sec. The year began precisely with the vernal equinox every time and therefore, there was no particular need of adding one day every four years and there was no need of a leap year. This was the best and most correct calendar produced that far.



Some 12 centuries later, in 487 B.C., Darius the Great of the Achaemenid dynasty celebrated Norooz at his newly built Persepolis in Iran. A recent research shows that it was a very special occasion. On that day, the first rays of the rising sun fell on the observatory in the great hall of audience at 6:30 a.m., an event which repeats itself once every 1,400 years. It also happened to coincide with the Babylonian and Jewish New Years. It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient peoples. Persepolis was the place the Achaemenid King received, on Norooz, his people from all over the vast empire. The walls of the great royal palace depict the scenes of the celebrations.



We know that the Parthians celebrated the occasion but we do not know the details. It should have, more or less, followed the Achaemenid pattern. During the Sassanid time, preparations began at least 25 days before Norooz. Twelve pillars of mud bricks, each dedicated to one month of the year, were erected in the royal court. Various vegetable seeds -- wheat, barley, lentils, beans, and others -- were sown on top of the pillars. They grew into luxurious greens by the New Year Day. The great king held his public audience and the High Priest of the empire was the first to greet him. Government officials followed next. Each person offered a gift and received a present. The audience lasted for five days, each day for the people of a certain profession. Then on the sixth day, called the Greater Norooz, the king held his special audience. He received members of the Royal family and courtiers. Also a general amnesty was declared for convicts of minor crimes. The pillars were removed on the 16th day and the festival came to a close. The occasion was celebrated, on a lower level, by all peoples throughout the empire.



Since then, the peoples of the Iranian stock, whether Zoroastrians, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Bahai, or other, have celebrated Norooz precisely at the time of vernal equinox, the first day of the first month, on or about March 21st.



Today, the ceremony has been simplified. In association with the "rebirth of nature", extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. This is also extended to personal attire, and it is customary to buy at least one set of new clothes. On the New Year's day, families dress in their new clothes and start the twelve-day celebrations by visiting the elders of their family, then the rest of their family and finally their friends. Wheat, barley, lentils, and other vegetables seeds are soaked to grow on china plates and round earthenware vessels some ten days in advance, so that the sprouts are three to four inches in height by Norooz. A table is laid. It has a copy of the sacred book, a mirror, candles, incense burner, bowl of water with live gold fish, the plates and vessels with green sprouts, flowers, fruits, coins, bread, sugar cone, various grains, fresh vegetables, colorfully painted boiled eggs like the "Easter eggs," and above all, seven articles with their names beginning in Persian with the letter "s".



The whole table, beautifully laid, symbolizes the Message and the Messenger, light, reflection, warmth, life, love, joy, production, prosperity, and nature. It is, in fact, a very elaborate thanksgiving table for all the good, beautifully bestowed by God.

Family members, all dressed in their best, sit around the table and eagerly await the announcement of the exact time of vernal equinox over radio or television. Elders give gifts to younger members. Next the rounds of visits to neighbors, relatives, and friends begin. Each visit is reciprocated.

Celebrations are, more or less for the first two weeks, a daily routine. The festivity continues for 12 days, and on the 13th morning, the mass picnic to countryside begins. It is called sizdeh bedar, meaning "thirteen-in-the-outdoors." Cities and villages turn into ghost towns with almost all the inhabitants gone to enjoy the day in woods and mountains along stream and riversides. People sing, dance, and make merry. Girls of marriageable age tie wild grass tops into knots and make a wish that the following Norooz may find them married and carrying their bonny babies.

http://historicaliran.blogspot.com/2010/03/norooz.html


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Re: Nowruz-Norooz-Nouruz

PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:20 pm
by Parvaneh
Norooz is the beginning of the year for the people of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Tajikistan and other common cultural heritage countries. It is also celebrated as the New Year by the people of the Iranian stock, particularly the Kurds, in the neighboring countries of Georgia, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. It begins precisely with the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on or about March 21st. The term Norooz in writing, first appeared in Persian records in the second century AD.


Tradition takes Norooz as far back as 15,000 years--before the last ice age. The Shahnameh, dates Norooz as far back to the time of Jamshid, who in Zoroastrian texts saved mankind from a killer winter that was destined to kill every living creature. The mythical Persian King Jamshid perhaps symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry and a more settled life in human history. In the Shahnameh and Iranian mythology, he is credited with the foundation of Norooz.



Avestan and later scriptures show that Zoroaster improved, as early as 1725 B.C., the old Indo-Iranian calendar. The prevailing calendar was lunisolar. The lunar year is of 354 days. An intercalation of one month after every thirty months kept the calendar almost in line with the seasons. Zoroaster, the Founder of the Good Religion, himself an astronomer, founded an observatory and he reformed the calendar by introducing an eleven-day intercalary period to make it into a lunisolar year of 365 days, 5 hours and a fraction. Later the year was made solely a solar year with each month of thirty days. An intercalation of five days, and a further addition of one day every four years, was introduced to make the year 365 days, 5 hours, and a fraction. Still later, the calendar was further corrected to be a purely solar year of 365 days 5 hr 48 min 45.5 sec. The year began precisely with the vernal equinox every time and therefore, there was no particular need of adding one day every four years and there was no need of a leap year. This was the best and most correct calendar produced that far.



Some 12 centuries later, in 487 B.C., Darius the Great of the Achaemenid dynasty celebrated Norooz at his newly built Persepolis in Iran. A recent research shows that it was a very special occasion. On that day, the first rays of the rising sun fell on the observatory in the great hall of audience at 6:30 a.m., an event which repeats itself once every 1,400 years. It also happened to coincide with the Babylonian and Jewish New Years. It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient peoples. Persepolis was the place the Achaemenid King received, on Norooz, his people from all over the vast empire. The walls of the great royal palace depict the scenes of the celebrations.



We know that the Parthians celebrated the occasion but we do not know the details. It should have, more or less, followed the Achaemenid pattern. During the Sassanid time, preparations began at least 25 days before Norooz. Twelve pillars of mud bricks, each dedicated to one month of the year, were erected in the royal court. Various vegetable seeds -- wheat, barley, lentils, beans, and others -- were sown on top of the pillars. They grew into luxurious greens by the New Year Day. The great king held his public audience and the High Priest of the empire was the first to greet him. Government officials followed next. Each person offered a gift and received a present. The audience lasted for five days, each day for the people of a certain profession. Then on the sixth day, called the Greater Norooz, the king held his special audience. He received members of the Royal family and courtiers. Also a general amnesty was declared for convicts of minor crimes. The pillars were removed on the 16th day and the festival came to a close. The occasion was celebrated, on a lower level, by all peoples throughout the empire.



Since then, the peoples of the Iranian stock, whether Zoroastrians, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Bahai, or other, have celebrated Norooz precisely at the time of vernal equinox, the first day of the first month, on or about March 21st.



Today, the ceremony has been simplified. In association with the "rebirth of nature", extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. This is also extended to personal attire, and it is customary to buy at least one set of new clothes. On the New Year's day, families dress in their new clothes and start the twelve-day celebrations by visiting the elders of their family, then the rest of their family and finally their friends. Wheat, barley, lentils, and other vegetables seeds are soaked to grow on china plates and round earthenware vessels some ten days in advance, so that the sprouts are three to four inches in height by Norooz. A table is laid. It has a copy of the sacred book, a mirror, candles, incense burner, bowl of water with live gold fish, the plates and vessels with green sprouts, flowers, fruits, coins, bread, sugar cone, various grains, fresh vegetables, colorfully painted boiled eggs like the "Easter eggs," and above all, seven articles with their names beginning in Persian with the letter "s".



The whole table, beautifully laid, symbolizes the Message and the Messenger, light, reflection, warmth, life, love, joy, production, prosperity, and nature. It is, in fact, a very elaborate thanksgiving table for all the good, beautifully bestowed by God.

Family members, all dressed in their best, sit around the table and eagerly await the announcement of the exact time of vernal equinox over radio or television. Elders give gifts to younger members. Next the rounds of visits to neighbors, relatives, and friends begin. Each visit is reciprocated.

Celebrations are, more or less for the first two weeks, a daily routine. The festivity continues for 12 days, and on the 13th morning, the mass picnic to countryside begins. It is called sizdeh bedar, meaning "thirteen-in-the-outdoors." Cities and villages turn into ghost towns with almost all the inhabitants gone to enjoy the day in woods and mountains along stream and riversides. People sing, dance, and make merry. Girls of marriageable age tie wild grass tops into knots and make a wish that the following Norooz may find them married and carrying their bonny babies.

http://historicaliran.blogspot.com/2010/03/norooz.html


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Nowruz-New day

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:41 pm
by Parvaneh
Nowruz (new day) the first day of Iranian calendar, is an old celebration from ancient time, which is still celebrated in all over Iran, refers to Persian New Year.
Nowruz is the first day of New Year in Iran and Afghanistan also is as holyday in some other countries.
According to Azerbaijan republic suggestion, UN’s general assembly in 2010 approved March 21 as an international day of nowruz with Persian origin which has been celebrated by more than 300 millions of people. Before that it was registered on the UNESCO list of intangible heritage of humanity. On 27 March 2010 firs international nowruz festival hold in Tehran, capital city of Iran, and this city is nominated as secretariat of Nowruz