Nowruz - The Persian New Year
Nowruz is a 3,000 year old Zoroastrian tradition, a ritual celebration which predates the advent of Islam into Persia. It signals the start of Spring and the Persian new year.
Iranians in preparation clean up their homes and buy new clothes. The major New Year ritual is setting the 'Haft Seen' with seven specific items.
Each of the items corresponds to one of the seven creations and the seven holy immortals protecting them.
These seven things are:
1. Seeb (apple)
2. Sabze (green grass)
3. Samanoo (a meal made out of wheat)
4. Senjed (a special kind of berry)
5. Sekke (coin)
6. Seer (garlic)
7. Either Serke (vinager) or Somagh (an Iranian spice).
Zoroastrians living away from Iran often grow seven seeds as a reminder that this is the seventh feast of creation, while their sprouting into new growth symbolised resurrection and eternal life to come.
On Nowruz the spread is blessed by the presence of either the Quran, Divan-e Hafez (poetry book of Hafez).
Nowadays, a great number of Iranians prefer Shahnameh (the Epic of Kings) of Ferdowsi. Which is as an Iranian national book, more representative of Iranian identity, values and spirits, and appropriate for this ancient celebration.
Tajik students celebrate Nowruz the Iranian new year
The exact second of Nowruz is called 'Saal Tahvil'.
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 or fruits are consumed.
On the night before the New Year, most Iranians will have a colourful traditional Iranian feast.
Iranians regard 13th day as a bad omen and believe that by going into the fields and parks they avoid misfortune.
Therefore on 'Sizdah Bedar', the 13th day of the new year is spent mostly outdoors with parks or nature indulging in festivities, picnics and play.
It is also believed that on this day unwed girls can wish for a husband by going into the fields and tying a knot between green shoots, symbolising a marital bond.
I Wish all Zoroastrians and Iranians a happy Nowruz.