Nowruz

Nowruz

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Encyclopedia
Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year
New Year
The New Year is the day that marks the time of the beginning of a new calendar year, and is the day on which the year count of the specific calendar used is incremented. For many cultures, the event is celebrated in some manner....

 in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year.

Nowruz is celebrated and observed by Iranic peoples and the related cultural continent
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

 and has spread in many other parts of the world, including parts of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, Northwestern China
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

, the Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

 and some groups in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

.

Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar
Iranian calendar
The Iranian calendars or sometimes called Persian calendars are a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Greater Iran...

. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians, the same time is celebrated in parts of the South Asian sub-continent as the new year. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator
Celestial equator
The celestial equator is a great circle on the imaginary celestial sphere, in the same plane as the Earth's equator. In other words, it is a projection of the terrestrial equator out into space...

 and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.

Originally being a Zoroastrian festival
Zoroastrian festivals
Zoroastrianism has numerous festivals and holy days, all of which are bound to the Zoroastrian calendar. The Shahenshahi and Kadmi variants of the calendar do not intercalcate leap years and hence the day of the Gregorian calendar year on which these days are celebrated shifts ahead with time...

, and the holiest of them all, Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

 himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since the Achaemenid era
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 leaves the zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox.

The Jewish festival of Purim
Purim
Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther .Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th...

 is probably adopted from the Persian New Year. It is also a holy day for Sufi
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

s, Ismailis, Alawi
Alawi
The Alawis, also known as Alawites, Nusayris and Ansaris are a prominent mystical and syncretic religious group centred in Syria who are a branch of Shia Islam.-Etymology:...

tes, Alevis, and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

.

The term Nowruz in writing, first appeared in Persian
History of Iran
The history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of a larger historical region, comprising the area from the Danube River in the west to the Indus River and Jaxartes in the east and from the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and Egypt...

 records in the 2nd century AD, but it was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids c. 548-330 BC), where kings from different nations under the Persian empire used to bring gifts to the Emperor, also called King of Kings (Shahanshah), of Persia on Nowruz. The significance of Nowruz in the Achaemenid empire was such that the great Persian king Cambyses II's appointing as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the New Year festival (Nowruz).

The UN's General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 in 2010 recognized the International Day of Nowruz, describing it a spring festival of Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. During the meeting of The Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, held between 28 September – 2 October 2009 in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi , literally Father of Gazelle, is the capital and the second largest city of the United Arab Emirates in terms of population and the largest of the seven member emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western...

, Nowrūz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Etymology


The term Nowruz is a Persian compound-word and consists of:
  • now (Old Persian nava) means "new" and has the following cognates, in English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

     new, in Latin
    Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

     novus, German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

     neu, Sanskrit
    Sanskrit
    Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

     nava, etc. The Persian pronunciation differs in the many dialects of the language: while the eastern dialects have preserved the original diphthong
    Diphthong
    A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

     (næuˈɾoːz), the western dialects usually pronounce it with a different diphthong (nouˈɾuːz), and some colloquial variants (such as the Tehrani accent
    Tehrani accent
    Tehrani accent is the most common colloquial variant of the modern Persian language. Compared to literary standard Persian, the Tehrani dialect lacks original Persian diphthongs and tends to fuse certain sounds...

    ) pronounce it with a monophtong (noˈɾuːz).

  • rōz (also with various pronuciations, such as rūz,rose.rooz rozh, or roj) means "day" in Middle- and Modern Persian
    Persian language
    Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

    . The original meaning of the word, however, was "light". The term is derived from Avestan
    Avestan language
    Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

     *rowch-, itself derived from Proto-Indo-European *leuk- (l <-> r and k <-> ch sound changes are common in Indo-European languages), and is related to Sanskrit ruci, Latin lux and, in fact, English light.

Nowruz and the spring equinox



The first day on the Iranian calendar
Iranian calendar
The Iranian calendars or sometimes called Persian calendars are a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Greater Iran...

 falls on the March equinox
Equinox
An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator...

, the first day of spring. At the time of the equinox, the sun is observed to be directly over the equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

, and the north and south poles of the Earth lie along the solar terminator
Terminator (solar)
A terminator, twilight zone or "grey line" is a moving line that separates the illuminated day side and the dark night side of a planetary body...

; sunlight is evenly divided between the north and south hemispheres
Sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...

.

In ca. 11 century CE major reforms of Iranian calendars took place and whose principal purpose was to fix the beginning of the calendar year, i.e. Nowrūz, at the vernal equinox. Accordingly, the definition of Nowruz given by the Iranian scientist Ṭūsī
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Khawaja Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan Ṭūsī , better known as Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī , was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: an astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed...

 was the following: "the first day of the official new year [Nowruz] was always the day on which the sun entered Aries
Aries (astrology)
Aries is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, which spans the zodiac between the zero degree and the 29th degree of celestial longitude. The Sun enters Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which is usually on March 21 each year, and remains in this sign until around April 20...

 before noon".

Tradition and mythology



The celebration has its roots in Ancient Iran. Due to its antiquity, there exist various foundation myths for Nowruz in Iranian mythology
Iranian mythology
Iranian mythologies include:*Persian mythology*Scythian mythology*Ossetic mythology...

. In the Zoroastrian tradition, the seven most important Zoroastrian festivals are the six Gahambars and Nowruz, which occurs at the spring equinox. According to Mary Boyce
Mary Boyce
Nora Elisabeth Mary Boyce was a British scholar of Iranian languages, and an authority on Zoroastrianism...

, Between sunset of the day of the 6th Gahanbar and sunrise of Nowruz was celebrated Hamaspathmaedaya (later known, in its extended form, as Frawardinegan). This and the Gahanbar are the only festivals named in the surviving text of the Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

.

The Shahnameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

, dates Nowruz as far back to the reign of Jamshid
Jamshid
Jamshid is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition.In tradition and folklore, Jamshid is described as having been the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Pishdadian dynasty . This role is already alluded to in Zoroastrian scripture Jamshid (Middle-...

, who in Zoroastrian texts saved mankind from a killer winter that was destined to kill every living creature. The mythical Persian King Jamshid
Jamshid
Jamshid is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition.In tradition and folklore, Jamshid is described as having been the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Pishdadian dynasty . This role is already alluded to in Zoroastrian scripture Jamshid (Middle-...

 (Yima or Yama of the Indo-Iranian lore) perhaps symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

 and a more settled life in human history. In the Shahnameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

 and Iranian mythology
Iranian mythology
Iranian mythologies include:*Persian mythology*Scythian mythology*Ossetic mythology...

, he is credited with the foundation of Nowruz. In the Shahnama, Jamshid
Jamshid
Jamshid is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition.In tradition and folklore, Jamshid is described as having been the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Pishdadian dynasty . This role is already alluded to in Zoroastrian scripture Jamshid (Middle-...

 constructed a throne studded with gems. He had demons raise him above the earth into the heavens; there he sat on his throne like the sun shining in the sky. The world's creatures gathered in wonder about him and scattered jewels around him, and called this day the New Day or No/Now-Ruz. This was the first day of the month of Farvardin (the first month of the Persian calendar).

The Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 scholar Abu Rayhan Biruni of the 10th century AD, in his Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 work "Kitab al-Tafhim li Awa'il Sina'at al-Tanjim" provides a description of the calendar of various nations. Besides the Persian calendar, various festivals of Arabs, Jews, Sabians, Greeks and other nations are mentioned in this book. In the section on the Persian calendar(تقویم پارسیان), he mentions Nowruz, Sadeh
Sadeh
Sadé or Sada Jashn-e Sada/Sadé , also transliterated as Sadeh, is an ancient Iranian tradition celebrated 50 days before Nowruz. Sadeh in Persian means "hundred" and refers to one hundred days and nights past the end of summer...

, Tiregan
Tiregan
Tiregân also known as Jashn-e Tiregân is an ancient Iranian festival coinciding with the mid summer festivals. -Overview:...

, Mehregan
Mehregan
Mehrgân or Jashn-e Mehregân is a Zoroastrian and Persian festival celebrated since the pre-Islamic era to honor the Yazata of "Mehr" , which is responsible for friendship, affection and love. It is also widely referred to as Persian Festival of Autumn...

, the six Gahanbar, Parvardegaan, Bahmanja, Isfandarmazh and several other festivals. According to him: It is the belief of the Persians that Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion. The Persian historian Abu Saʿīd Gardēzī in his work titled Zayn al-Akhbār under the section of the Zoroastrians festivals mentions Nowruz (among other festivals) and specifically points out that Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

 highly emphasized the celebration of Nowruz and Mehregan
Mehregan
Mehrgân or Jashn-e Mehregân is a Zoroastrian and Persian festival celebrated since the pre-Islamic era to honor the Yazata of "Mehr" , which is responsible for friendship, affection and love. It is also widely referred to as Persian Festival of Autumn...

.

History


Although it is not clear whether proto-Indo-Iranians celebrated a feast as the first day of the calendar, there are indications that both Iranians and Indians assumed the first day of autumn as the beginning of new year season. There are reasons that Iranians may have observed the beginning both autumn and spring.

Boyce and Grenet explain the traditions for seasonal festivals and comment:"It is possible that the splendor of the Babylonian festivities at this season led the Persians to develop their own spring festival into an established new year feast, with the name Navasarda 'New Year' (a name which, though first attested through Middle Persian derivatives, is attributed to the Achaemenian period). Since the communal observations of the ancient Iranians appear in general to have been a seasonal ones, it is probable, however, that they traditionally held festivals in both autumn and spring, to mark the major turning points of the natural year".

We have reasons to believe that the celebration is much older than that date and was surely celebrated by the people and royalty during the Achaemenid times (555-330 BC). It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient Iranian peoples
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

. It has been suggested that the famous Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

 complex, or at least the palace of Apadana
Apadana
The Apadāna is a collection of biographical stories found in the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Pāli Canon, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. It is thought by most scholars to be a late addition to the canon, composed during the 1st and 2nd century BCE...

 and the Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Nowruz. Although, there may be no mention of Nowruz in recorded Achaemenid inscriptions (see picture) There is a detailed account by Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

 of Nowruz celebration taking place in Persepolis and the continuity of this festival in the Achaemenid tradition. According to Britannica, the Jewish festival of Purim
Purim
Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther .Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th...

, is probably adopted from the Persian New Year.


Nowruz was the holiday of Arsacid
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

/Parthia
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

n dynastic Empires who ruled Iran (248 BC-224 AD). There are specific references to the celebration of Nowruz during the reign of Vologases I (51-78 AD), but these include no details. Before Sassanids established their power in West Asia around 300 AD, Parthians celebrated Nowruz in Autumn and 1st of Farvardin
Farvardin
Farvardin is the first month of the Iranian civil calendar of 1925. Farvardin has 31 days and in 75 years of 100 years begins on 21 March and ends on 20 April. In 25 years, Farvardin begins on 19 or 22 March and ends on 18 or 21 April. Farvardin is the first month of spring, and is followed by...

 began at the Autumn Equinox. During Parthian dynasty the Spring Festival was Mehragan, a Zoroastrian and Iranian festival celebrated in honor of Mithra
Mithra
Mithra is the Zoroastrian divinity of covenant and oath. In addition to being the divinity of contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing protector of Truth, and the guardian of cattle, the harvest and of The Waters....

.

Extensive records on the celebration of Nowruz appear following the accession of Ardashir I of Persia, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty (224-651 AD). Under the Sassanid Emperors, Nowruz was celebrated as the most important day of the year. Most royal traditions of Nowruz such as royal audiences with the public, cash gifts, and the pardoning of prisoners, were established during the Sassanian era and persisted unchanged until modern times.

Nowruz, along with Sadeh
Sadeh
Sadé or Sada Jashn-e Sada/Sadé , also transliterated as Sadeh, is an ancient Iranian tradition celebrated 50 days before Nowruz. Sadeh in Persian means "hundred" and refers to one hundred days and nights past the end of summer...

 (celebrated in mid-winter), survived in society following the introduction of Islam in 650 AD. Other celebrations such Gahanbar and Mehragan were eventually side-lined or were only followed by the Zoroastrians, who carried them. There are records of the Four Great Caliphs presiding over Nowruz celebrations, and it was adopted as the main royal holiday during the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 period.

In his work titled the Nowruznama, Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

, a well known Persian poet
Persian literature
Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islamic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia including present-day Iran as well as regions of Central Asia where the Persian language has historically been the national language...

 and Mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

 provides a vivid description of the celebration in the courts of the Kings of Persia:
Following the demise of the Caliphate and the subsequent re-emergence of Persian dynasties such as the Samanids and Buyids, Nowruz was elevated to an even more important event. The Buyids revived the ancient traditions of Sassanian times and restored many smaller celebrations that had been eliminated by the Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

. According to the Syrian historian Yaqut al-Hamawi
Yaqut al-Hamawi
Yāqūt ibn-'Abdullah al-Rūmī al-Hamawī) was an Islamic biographer and geographer renowned for his encyclopedic writings on the Muslim world. "al-Rumi" refers to his Greek descent; "al-Hamawi" means that he is from Hama, Syria, and ibn-Abdullah is a reference to his father's name, Abdullah...

, the Iranian Buyid ruler ʿAżod-al-Dawla (r. 949-83) customarily welcomed Nowruz in a majestic hall, wherein servants had placed gold and silver plates and vases full of fruit and colorful flowers. The King would sit on the royal throne (masnad), and the court astronomer came forward, kissed the ground, and congratulated him on the arrival of the New Year. The king would then summon musicians and singers, and invited his boon companions. They would gather in their assigned places and enjoy a great festive occasion.

Even the Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 and Mongol invaders did not attempt to abolish Nowruz in favor of any other celebration. Thus, Nowruz remained as the main celebration in the Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 lands by both the officials and the people.


Local variations


Today, the festival of Nowruz is celebrated in many countries that were territories of, or influenced by, the Persian Empire: Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Various Iranian Peoples
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 including Kurds, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, parts of the Middle East, as well as in the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, and Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

. It is also celebrated by the Zoroastrians as well by certain Iranic inhabitants in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

's Chitral
Chitral
Chitral or Chetrar , translated as field in the native language Khowar, is the capital of the Chitral District, situated on the western bank of the Kunar River , in Pakistan. The town is at the foot of Tirich Mir, the highest peak of the Hindu Kush, high...

 region and Northern Areas
Northern Areas
Gilgit-Baltistan , is the northernmost political entity within Pakistan. It borders Pakistan's Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province to the west, Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor to the north, China to the east and northeast, Azad Kashmir to the southwest, and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the...

. It is also celebrated by the Iranian immigrants from Shiraz
Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...

 in Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Zanzibar ,Persian: زنگبار, from suffix bār: "coast" and Zangi: "bruin" ; is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja , and Pemba...

. it is called Nevruz in Turkic, Uyghur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

s who live in Northwestern China call it "Noruz", and it is called Sultan Nevruz in Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

. In Kurdish communities located in parts of western Iran, the holiday is referred to as Newroz, which is a variant of the Persian word Nowruz.

Nowruz around the world



Nowruz is celebrated in Greater Iran
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

, Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and by Iranians worldwide. It is a public holiday in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

,
Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

, Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, and Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

. Also the Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 parliament by unanimous consent, has passed a bill to add Nowruz to the national calendar of Canada, on March 30, 2009.

In Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 Sultan Nevruz is celebrated as a mainly mystical day by the Bektashi
Bektashi
Bektashi Order or Bektashism is an Islamic Sufi order founded in the 13th century by the Persian saint Haji Bektash Veli. In addition to the spiritual teachings of Haji Bektash Veli the order was significantly influenced during its formative period by both the Hurufis as well as the...

 sect, and there are special ceremonies in the Tekke
Zawiyya
The word zawiyya can refer to a sufi brotherhood or the shrine of a saint. Zawiyyas used to be very common in especially North Africa and Iran.-References:...

 led by the clergy and large meals are served there. They celebrate this day as the birthday of Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

. Also all Albanians celebrate a secular version of Nowruz, called Spring Day. Nowruz is also celebrated by Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 as well as by Parsis in the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

.

Other notable celebrations take place by Iranians around the world, such as Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 and in United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, mainly in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. But because Los Angeles is prone to devastating fires, there are very strict fire codes in the city. No fires are allowed even on one's own property. Usually, Iranians living in Southern California go to the beaches to celebrate the event where it is permissible to build fires. On 15 March 2010, The United States House of Representatives passed The Nowruz Resolution (H.Res. 267), by a 384-2 vote, "Recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz, ... .".

In Iran, the Islamic Regime attempted to suppress Nowruz following the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 and was met with very little success. The Ayatollahs considered Nowruz a pagan holiday and a distraction from more important things such as Islamic holidays.

In Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban, Nowruz was banned and considered an "ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship" but until 2001 it came back and now it is as popular as it was before the extremist Taliban.

It is also a holy day for Alawites, Alevis, and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

.

Countries that have Nowruz as a public holiday

Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days in general + total of 13 days for schools and universities) Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 (20 March to 23 March) Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days) Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 (20 March to 26 March, total of 7 days) Azeris in Georgia (country), Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 The Parsis in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 use a Shahenshahi calendar, unlike the Iranians who use a Kadmi calendar. Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 (regional only in  Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

) (21 March) Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 (21 March to 24 March, total of 4 days) Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

) (21 March) Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

 (21 March) Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days) Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days) Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 (21 March)

Nowruz celebration in Iran



Nowruz is the most important holiday in Iran. Preparations for Nowruz begin in the month Esfand (or Espand), the last month of winter in the Persian solar calendar.

Spring cleaning and visiting one another



Spring cleaning, or Khouneh Tekouni (literally means 'shaking the house') or 'complete cleaning of the house' is commonly performed before Nowruz. Persians (Iranians, Afghans and Tajiks) and other Indo-Iranian groups (Kurds, Azarbaijanis and Balochs) start preparing for the Nowruz with a major spring-cleaning of their houses, the purchase of new clothes to wear for the new year and the purchase of flowers (in particular the hyacinth and the tulip
Tulip
The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of...

 are popular and conspicuous).

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. On the thirteenth day families leave their homes and picnic outdoors.

During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the youth will visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later. When in previous year, a family member is deceased, the tradition is to visit that family first (among the elders). The visits naturally have to be relatively short, otherwise one will not be able to visit everybody on their list. A typical visit is around 30 minutes, where you often run into other visiting relatives and friends who happen to be paying a visit to the same house at that time. Because of the house visits, you make sure you have a sufficient supply of pastry, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and special nuts on hand, as you typically serve your visitors with these items with tea or sherbet. Many Iranians will throw large Nowruz parties in a central location as a way of dealing with the long distances between groups of friends and family.

Some Nowruz celebrants believe that whatever a person does on Nowruz will affect the rest of the year. So, if a person is warm and kind to their relatives, friends and neighbors on Nowruz, then the new year will be a good one. On the other hand, if there are fights and disagreements, the year will be a bad one. As an extended tradition to the holiday, men may or may not choose to shave their faces until the night of the "New Day" as a sign of removal of old habits and tendencies and the rebirth of their faith and being.

One tradition that may not be very widespread (that is, it may belong to only a few families) is to place something sweet, such as honey or candy, in a safe place outside overnight. On the first morning of the new year, the first person up brings the sweet stuff into the house as another means of attaining a good new year.

Chahārshanbe Sūrī



The night before the last Wednesday of the year is celebrated by the Iranian people as Chahârshanbe Sûrî (Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

: چهارشنبه سوری Sour means feast, party or festival in Persian, , چوارشه‌مه‌ سوورێ (meaning Wednesday Festival) in Persian, the Iranian festival of fire. This festival is the celebration of the light (the good) winning over the darkness (the bad); the symbolism behind the rituals are all rooted back to Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

.

The tradition includes people going into the streets and alleys to make bonfires, and jump over them while singing the traditional song Zardî-ye man az (ane) to, sorkhî-ye to az (ane) man ("az-ane to" means belongs to you); This literally translates to "My yellowness is yours, your redness is mine," with the figurative message "My paleness (pain, sickness) for you (the fire), your strength (health) for me." The fire is believed to burn out all the fear (yellowness) in their subconscious or their spirit, in preparation for new year.

Serving different kinds of pastry and nuts known as Ajīl-e Moshkel-Goshā (lit. problem-solving nuts) is the Chahārshanbe Sūrī way of giving thanks for the previous year's health and happiness, while exchanging any remaining paleness and evil for the warmth and vibrancy of the fire.

According to tradition, the living are visited by the spirit of their ancestors on the last days of the year, and many children wrap themselves in shrouds, symbolically re-enacting the visits. They also run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons and knocking on doors to ask for treats. The ritual is called qashogh-zany (spoon beating) and symbolizes the beating out of the last unlucky Wednesday of the year ( See also Trick-or-treating
Trick-or-treating
Trick-or-treating or "Guising", is a customary practice for children on Halloween in many countries. Children in costumes travel from house to house in order to ask for treats such as candy with the question "Trick or treat?"...

).

There are several other traditions on this night, including: the rituals of Kūze Shekastan, the breaking of earthen jars which symbolically hold one's bad fortune; the ritual of Fal-Gûsh
Fāl-gūsh
Fāl-gūsh or fāl-gōsh is the act of standing in a dark corner spot or behind a fence and listening to the conversations of passersby and trying to interpret their statements or the subject of their dialogue as an answer to one's questions. Iranians believe that certain days are especially good for...

(lit.Divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 by ear), or inferring one's future from the conversations of those passing by; and the ritual of Gereh-goshā’ī, making a knot in the corner of a handkerchief or garment and asking the first passerby to unravel it in order to remove ones misfortune.

Haft Sīn




Haft Sîn or the seven 'S's is a major traditional table setting
Table setting
Table setting or place setting refers to the way to set a table with tableware—such as eating utensils and dishes for serving and eating. The arrangement for a single diner is called a place setting...

 of Nowruz, the traditional Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian spring celebration.Today The haft sin table includes seven specific items starting with the letter 'S' or Sīn (س) in the Persian alphabet. The items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals called Amesha Sepanta
Amesha Spenta
' is an Avestan language term for a class of divine entities in Zoroastrianism, and literally means "Bounteous Immortal" The noun is amesha "immortal", and spenta "furthering, strengthening, bounteous, holy" is an adjective of it...

 protecting them. The seven elements of Life, namely Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, and Human, are represented. They also have Astrological correlations to five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Sun and Moon. With the advent of Islam the word Amesha Sepanta shortened to and eventually was remembered by just the letter S and the number 7. The Haft Sin has evolved over time, but has kept its symbolism. Traditionally, families attempt to set as beautiful a Haft Sīn table as they can, as it is not only of traditional and spiritual value, but also noticed by visitors during Nowruzi visitations and is a reflection of their good taste.
The original 7 items of haft-sin symbolized seven of the Zoroastrian yazatas
Yazata
Yazata is the Avestan language word for a Zoroastrian concept. The word has a wide range of meanings but generally signifies a divinity...

 such as ātar
Atar
Atar is the Zoroastrian concept of holy fire, sometimes described in abstract terms as "burning and unburning fire" or "visible and invisible fire" ....

 and asmān
Asman
Asman is the Avestan and Middle Persian name of the Zoroastrian divinity that is the hypostasis of the sky. Asman is the "highest heaven," and is distinguished from the firmament , which lies nearer the earth. The 27th day of the Zoroastrian calendar is dedicated to him.In the Avesta, specifically...

. The term was originally called haft-chin, to place seven. These items are Mirror symbolizing Sky, Apple symbolizing Earth, Candles symbolizing Fire, Golab rose water symbolizing Water, Sabzeh wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants, Goldfish symbolizing Animals, Painted Eggs symbolizing Humans and Fertility.

The Haft Sīn items are:
  • sabzeh - wheat
    Wheat
    Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

    , barley
    Barley
    Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

     or lentil
    Lentil
    The lentil is an edible pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds...

     sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth
  • samanu
    Samanu
    Samanū , Samanak , or Sumalak or Sümölök is a sweet paste made from germinated wheat, which is prepared for Nowruz in a large pot . Traditionally, women take a special party for it during the night, and cook it from late in the evening till the daylight, singing related songs...

    - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence
  • senjed - the dried fruit of the oleaster
    Elaeagnus angustifolia
    Elaeagnus angustifolia, commonly called silver berry, oleaster, Russian olive, or wild olive, is a species of Elaeagnus, native to western and central Asia, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to Turkey and Iran...

     tree - symbolizing love
  • sīr - garlic
    Garlic
    Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent...

     - symbolizing medicine
  • sīb - apple
    Apple
    The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

    s - symbolizing beauty and health
  • somaq - sumac
    Sumac
    Sumac is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and North America....

     berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
  • serkeh - vinegar
    Vinegar
    Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional...

     - symbolizing age and patience.


Other items on the table may include:
  • Sonbol - Hyacinth (plant)
  • Sekkeh - Coins
    COinS
    ContextObjects in Spans, commonly abbreviated COinS, is a method to embed bibliographic metadata in the HTML code of web pages. This allows bibliographic software to publish machine-readable bibliographic items and client reference management software to retrieve bibliographic metadata. The...

     - representative of wealth
  • traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava
    Baklava
    Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia....

    , toot
    White Mulberry
    Morus alba, known as white mulberry, is a short-lived, fast-growing, small to medium sized mulberry tree, which grows to 10–20 m tall. The species is native to northern China, and is widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere...

    , naan-nokhodchi
  • Aajeel - dried nuts, berries and raisins
  • lit candle
    Candle
    A candle is a solid block or cylinder of wax with an embedded wick, which is lit to provide light, and sometimes heat.Today, most candles are made from paraffin. Candles can also be made from beeswax, soy, other plant waxes, and tallow...

    s (enlightenment and happiness)
  • a mirror
    Mirror
    A mirror is an object that reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original quality prior to its contact with the mirror. Some mirrors also filter out some wavelengths, while preserving other wavelengths in the reflection...

     (symbolizing cleanness and honesty)
  • decorated eggs
    Egg decorating
    Egg decorating is the art or craft of decorating eggs. It is quite a popular art/craft form because of the attractive, smooth, oval shape of the egg...

    , sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)
  • a bowl of water with goldfish
    Goldfish
    The goldfish is a freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae of order Cypriniformes. It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, and is one of the most commonly kept aquarium fish....

     (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving). As an essential object of the Nowruz table, this goldfish
    Goldfish
    The goldfish is a freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae of order Cypriniformes. It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, and is one of the most commonly kept aquarium fish....

     is also "very ancient and meaningful" and with Zoroastrian connection.
  • rosewater
    Rosewater
    Rose water or rose syrup is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals. Rose water, itself a by-product of the production of rose oil for use in perfume, is used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and...

    , believed to have magical cleansing powers
  • the national colours
    Flag of Iran
    The current flag of Iran was adopted on 29 July 1980, and is a reflection of the changes brought about by the Iranian Revolution. Its field is a tricolour comprising equal horizontal bands of green, white, and red...

    , for a patriotic touch
  • a holy book (e.g., the Avesta
    Avesta
    The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

    , Qur'an
    Qur'an
    The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

    , Bible
    Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

    , Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

    , or Kitáb-i-Aqdas
    Kitáb-i-Aqdas
    The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is a central book of the Bahá'í Faith written by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion. The work was written in Arabic under the Arabic title , but it is commonly referred to by its Persian title, Kitáb-i-Aqdas , which was given to the work by Bahá'u'lláh himself...

    ) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnameh
    Shahnameh
    The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

     or the Divan of Hafiz)

Haji Firouz




The traditional herald of the Nowruz season is a man called Hājī Fīrūz (or Khwāja Pīrūz). He symbolizes the rebirth of the Sumerian
Sumerian religion
Sumerian religion refers to the mythology, pantheon, rites and cosmology of the Sumerian civilization. The Sumerian religion influenced Mesopotamian mythology as a whole, surviving in the mythologies and religions of the Hurrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other culture...

 god of sacrifice, Domuzi, who was killed at the end of each year and reborn at the beginning of the New Year.

He usually uses face paint to make his skin black (black is an ancient Persian symbol of good luck) and wears a red costume. Then he sings and dances through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and heralds the coming of the New Year.

New Year dishes

  • Sabzi Polo
    Sabzi polo
    Sabzi polo is an Iranian dish of rice and chopped herbs, and is usually served with fish. In Persian, sabz means green, and sabzi can refer to herbs or vegetables...

     Mahi
    : The New Year's Day traditional meal is called Sabzi Polo Mahi, which is rice
    Rice
    Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

     with green herbs served with fish. The traditional seasoning for Sabzi Polo are parsley
    Parsley
    Parsley is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae, native to the central Mediterranean region , naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as an herb, a spice and a vegetable.- Description :Garden parsley is a bright green hairless biennial herbaceous plant in temperate...

    , coriander
    Coriander
    Coriander is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is native to southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. It is a soft, hairless plant growing to tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the...

    , chives
    Chives
    Chives are the smallest species of the edible onions. A perennial plant, they are native to Europe, Asia and North America.. Allium schoenoprasum is the only species of Allium native to both the New and the Old World....

    , dill
    Dill
    Dill is a perennial herb. It is the sole species of the genus Anethum, though classified by some botanists in a related genus as Peucedanum graveolens C.B.Clarke.-Growth:...

     and fenugreek
    Fenugreek
    Fenugreek is a plant in the family Fabaceae. Fenugreek is used both as a herb and as a spice . The leaves and sprouts are also eaten as vegetables...

    .
  • Reshteh Polo: rice cooked with noodles which is said to symbolically help one succeed in life.
  • Dolme
    Dolma
    Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions such as Russia, Middle East and the Caucasus and Central and South Asia. Perhaps the best-known is the grape-leaf dolma. Common vegetables to stuff include onion, zucchini, eggplant,...

     Barg
    : A traditional dish of Azeri people, cooked just before the new year. It includes some vegetables, meat and rice which have been cooked and embedded in grape leaves and cooked again. It is considered useful in reaching to wishes.
  • Kookoo sabzi : Herbs and vegetable souffle, traditionally served for dinner at New Year. A light and fluffy omelet style made from parsley, dill, coriander, spinach
    Spinach
    Spinach is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant , which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions...

    , spring onion ends, and chives, mixed with eggs and walnut
    Walnut
    Juglans is a plant genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are known as walnuts. They are deciduous trees, 10–40 meters tall , with pinnate leaves 200–900 millimetres long , with 5–25 leaflets; the shoots have chambered pith, a character shared with the wingnuts , but not the hickories...

    .

Sizdah Bedar



The thirteenth day of the new year festival is Sizdah Bedar (literally meaning "passing the thirteenth day", figuratively meaning "Passing the bad luck of the thirteenth day"). This is a day of festivity in the open, often accompanied by music and dancing, usually at family picnics.

Sizdah bedar celebrations stem from the ancient Persians' belief that the twelve constellations in the Zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years at the end of which the sky and earth collapsed in chaos. Hence Nowruz lasts twelve days and the thirteenth day represents the time of chaos when families put order aside and avoid the bad luck associated with the number thirteen by going outdoors and having picnics and parties.

At the end of the celebrations on this day, the sabzeh grown for the Haft Seen (which has symbolically collected all sickness and bad luck) is thrown into running water to exorcise the demons (divs) from the household. It is also customary for young single women to tie the leaves of the sabzeh before discarding it, so expressing a wish to be married before the next year's Sizdah Bedar. Another tradition associated with this day is Dorugh-e Sizdah, literally meaning "the lie of the thirteenth", which is the process of lying to someone and making them believe it (similar to April Fools Day).

Nowruz in India


In the Fasli/Bastani variant of the Zoroastrian calendar, Navroz is always the day of the vernal equinox (nominally falling on March 21). In the Shahenshahi and Kadmi calendars, which do not account for leap years, the New Year's Day has drifted ahead by over 200 days. These latter two variants of the calendar, which are only followed by the Zoroastrians of India, celebrate the spring equinox as Jamshed-i Nouroz, with New Year's Day then being celebrated in July–August as Pateti "(day) of penitence" (from patet "confession," hence also repentance and penitence).
The Parsi New Year is celebrated as Jamshed Navroz across the world by the entire Parsi community. The festival falls on the first day of the first month of the Fasli calendar, followed by the Parsis. This falls in the month of March according to the Gregorian calendar. As the day commences with the advent of spring or Vernal Equinox, Jamshed Navroz is celebrated with immense fun and fervor. All the Zoroastrians observe this festival by performing all the rituals and rites with full devotion and duty. A particular sect of Parsis resides in the western part of India and hence, Jamshed Navroz celebrations can be prominently noticed in these regions. Go through the following lines to know more about celebrating Jamshed Navroz in India.

Commemorated in a grand and elaborate fashion, preparations for Jamshed Navroz begin well in advance. Houses are cleaned to remove all the cobwebs and painted new. They are then adorned with different auspicious symbols, namely, stars, butterflies, birds and fish. New attires are ordered and made especially for the festival. On the day of Jamshed Navroz, people dress in their new and best clothes and put on gold and silver kustis and caps. The doors and windows are beautified with garlands of roses and jasmines. Color powders are used for creating beautiful and attractive patterns, known as rangoli, on the steps and thresholds. These intricate and creative patterns display the sanctity of the festivals. Moreover, fish and floral motifs are a favorite among rangolis and considered highly auspicious.

Guests are welcomed by sprinkling rose water and rice, followed by applying a tilak. Breakfast usually consists of Sev (a vermicelli preparation roasted in ghee and choc-a-bloc with dry fruits) which is served with yogurt and enjoyed by young and old alike. After breakfast, it is time to visit the Agiary or Fire Temple to offer prayers. Special thanksgiving prayers, known as Jashan, are held and sandalwood is offered to the Holy Fire. At the end of this religious ceremony, all Parsis take the privilege to exchange new greetings with one another by saying ‘Sal Mubarak’. Back home, special delicacies are made marking the lunch as an elaborate and delicious affair.

Various Parsi dishes, such as Sali boti (a mutton and potato preparation), chicken farchas, patrani machchi (chicken steamed in a leaf), mutton pulao and dal, kid gosh and sasni machchi (a thick white gravy with pomfret) jostle for space on the table. However, the most significant dish that forms an integral part of Jamshed Navroz celebrations is pulav (rice enriched with nuts and saffron). Besides, plain rice and moong dal are a must on this day. Desserts too are not behind in terms of variety, the most important being falooda. It is a sweet milk drink made form vermicelli and flavored with rose essence. Lagan-nu-custard, or caramel custard, is another favorite on this occasion. The entire day is spent by visiting friends and relative and exchanging good wishes and blessings.

Rituals Of Nowruz Festival


The people begin with cleaning their homes as a general custom of Nowruz, known as ‘spring clean’. This is observed days before the festival. The Parsis clean every part of their house, dust furniture and wash carpets. This is practiced to welcome the new spring season with freshness. The Parsis also believe that the soul of the departed family members would visit the homes of their loved ones on Nowruz Eve.

The number seven has been regarded magical and significant for the Zoroastrians. The number seven symbolizes the seven elements of life, namely, fire, earth, water, air, plants, animals and humans. The traditional table setting of Jamshed Navroz includes seven specific items beginning with the letter ‘S’, known as Haft Sin, that signify life, health, wealth, abundance, love, patience and purity. These items are also known to have astrological correlations to planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, and Sun and Moon.

The Haft Sin items are sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts representing rebirth), samanu (creamy pudding made from wheat germ regarded as holy and symbolizes affluence), seeb (apple symbolizing health and beauty), senjid (dried fruit of lotus tree stands for love), sir (garlic regarded as medicinal and represents health), somagh (sumac berries signifying the color of the sun and the victory of good over evil) and serkeh (vinegar representing old age and patience). Apart from these foods, there are other items that are placed on the traditional table.

These items include sonbol (hyacinth plant), sekkeh (coins representing wealth), aajeel (dried nuts, berries and raisins), lit candles (enlightenment and happiness), a mirror (cleanness and honesty), decorated eggs (fertility), traditional Iranian pastries like baghlava, toot and naan-nokhodchi, a bowl of water with goldfish (very essential for the Nowruz table), rosewater (magical cleansing powers), national colors (for a patriotic touch) and a holy book (the Avesta, Qur’an, Bible, Torah or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (either the Shahnama or the Divan of Hafiz).

At the strike of the clock indicating New Year, the Parsis wear their clean and new dresses and gather around the Nowruz table and Haft Sin. Prayers are offered for health, happiness and prosperity. Next, the family members hug and kiss each other as part of the New Year greetings. The delicacies prepared for the occasion are served and consumed. The oldest member of the family then takes the lead and presents the Eidi (New Year’s gift) to the younger members present.

Navroz celebration by Kashmiri Pandits


The Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Navroz (or Navreh in Kashmiri) on a date around the vernal equinox. The date, which usually falls between mid-March and mid-April, is determined by the Hindu lunar
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 calendar every year. The day of the vernal equinox (coinciding with the Iranian Nowruz) is also celebrated by the Kashmiri Pandits in the same manner as the lunar Navroz and is referred to as Sonth.

Thal Bharun (meaning 'filling the platter') is a major Kashmiri Pandit
Kashmiri Pandit
The Kashmiri Pandits are a Hindu Brahmin community originating from Kashmir, a mountainous region in South Asia.-Background:The Hindu caste system of the region was influenced by the influx of Buddhism from the time of Asoka, around the third century BCE, and a consequence of this was that the...

 Navroz tradition. It is similar to the Iranian Haft Sin. The items placed on the tray or platter generally include wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 or rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 , a sweet pudding
Pudding
Pudding most often refers to a dessert, but it can also be a savory dish.In the United States, pudding characteristically denotes a sweet milk-based dessert similar in consistency to egg-based custards, though it may also refer to other types such as bread and rice pudding.In the United Kingdom and...

 made from milk and cereal, fruits, walnuts, rosewater
Rosewater
Rose water or rose syrup is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals. Rose water, itself a by-product of the production of rose oil for use in perfume, is used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and...

, a coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

 (sikkeh), a pen, an ink-holder, a mirror
Mirror
A mirror is an object that reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original quality prior to its contact with the mirror. Some mirrors also filter out some wavelengths, while preserving other wavelengths in the reflection...

 (for introspection, purity of thought and honesty), and a lit diya
Diya
Diya may refer to:*Oladipo Diya, a Nigerian general*Diya , a ghee-based candle*Diyya, an Islamic term for monetary compensation for unintentional murder*Dia Mirza, a South Indian actress...

 or clay lamp (representing satyaprakasa, the Light of the Truth). Besides, new clothes are worn and presents are exchanged. Some adults, particularly women, fast on this day.

Nowruz in Afghanistan



In Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Nowroz is officially recognized as a "National festival" and high-ranking officials (including Vice President, Ministers, and Provincial Governors) participate in its celebration. The first two days of the Persian New Year are official holidays in Afghanistan. It is traditionally celebrated for 2 weeks among the people. Preparations for Nowroz start several days beforehand, at least after Chaharshanbe Suri
Chaharshanbe Suri
The last Wednesday of the Iranian year known as Chahar Shanbeh Soori , the eve of which is marked by special customs and rituals, most notably jumping over fire...

, the last Wednesday before the New Year. Among various traditions and customs, the most important ones are as following:
  • Guli Surkh festival : The Guli Surkh festival which literally means Red Flower Festival (referring to the red Tulip
    Tulip
    The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of...

     flowers) is the principal festival for Nowroz. It is celebrated in Mazari Sharif during the first 40 days of the year when the Tulip flowers grow in the green plains and over the hills surrounding the city. Mazari Sharif is basically the center of Nawroz celebrations in Afghanistan. People from all over the country travel to Mazari Sharif to attend the Nawroz festivals. Various activities and customs are performed during the Guli Surkh festival, including the Jahenda Bala event and Buzkashi games.
  • Jahenda Bālā : Jaheda Bala is celebrated on the first day of the New Year (i.e. Nawroz), and is attended by high-ranking government officials such as the Vice-President, Ministers, and Provincial Governors. It is a specific religious ceremony performed in the Blue Mosque of Mazar that is believed (mostly by Sunnite Afghans) to be the site of the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph of Islam. The ceremony is performed by raising a special banner whose color configuration resembles Derafsh Kaviani
    Derafsh Kaviani
    The Derafsh Kaviani , was the legendary royal standard of the Sassanid kings. The banner was also sometimes called the "standard of Jamshid" , the "standard of Fereydun" , and the "royal standard" .-Name:The name Drafš e Kāvīān The Derafsh Kaviani (Middle Persian: Drafš e Kāvīān), was the...

    . This is the biggest recorded Nowroz gathering where up to 200,000 people from all over Afghanistan get together in Mazar central park around blue mosque to celebrate the banner raising (Jahenda Bālā ) ceremony.
  • Buzkashi
    Buzkashi
    Buzkashi or Kok-boru or Oglak Tartis or Ulak Tartysh is a traditional Central Asian...

    : Along with other customs and celebrations, normally a Buzkashi
    Buzkashi
    Buzkashi or Kok-boru or Oglak Tartis or Ulak Tartysh is a traditional Central Asian...

     tournament is held during the Guli Surkh festival in Mazaris Sharif, Kabul
    Kabul
    Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

     and other northern cities of Afghanistan.
  • Haft Mēwa : In Afghanistan, people prepare Haft Mēwa (literally translates as Seven Fruits) instead of Haft Sin which is common in Iran. Haft Mewa is like a Fruit salad
    Fruit salad
    Fruit salad is a dish consisting of various kinds of fruit, served in a liquid, either in their own juices or a syrup. When served as an appetizer or as a dessert, a fruit salad is sometimes known as a fruit cocktail or fruit cup...

     made from 7 different Dried fruit
    Dried fruit
    Dried fruit is fruit where the majority of the original water content has been removed either naturally, through sun drying, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators. Dried fruit has a long tradition of use dating back to the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia, and is prized...

    s, served in their own syrup
    Syrup
    In cooking, a syrup is a thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water, containing a large amount of dissolved sugars but showing little tendency to deposit crystals...

    . The 7 dried fruits are: Raisin
    Raisin
    Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

    , Senjed (the dried fruit of the oleaster
    Elaeagnus angustifolia
    Elaeagnus angustifolia, commonly called silver berry, oleaster, Russian olive, or wild olive, is a species of Elaeagnus, native to western and central Asia, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to Turkey and Iran...

     tree), Pistachio
    Pistachio
    The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Persia , which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sicily and possibly Afghanistan , as well as in the United States,...

    , Hazelnut
    Common Hazel
    Corylus avellana, the Common Hazel, is a species of hazel native to Europe and western Asia, from the British Isles south to Iberia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, north to central Scandinavia, and east to the central Ural Mountains, the Caucasus, and northwestern Iran. It is an important component of...

    , Prune (dry fruit of Apricot
    Apricot
    The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.- Description :...

    ), Walnut
    Walnut
    Juglans is a plant genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are known as walnuts. They are deciduous trees, 10–40 meters tall , with pinnate leaves 200–900 millimetres long , with 5–25 leaflets; the shoots have chambered pith, a character shared with the wingnuts , but not the hickories...

     and whether Almond
    Almond
    The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...

     or another species of Plum
    Plum
    A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in the genus Prunus, subgenus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera in the shoots having a terminal bud and solitary side buds , the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one...

     fruit.
  • Samanak: It is a special type of sweet dish made from Wheat germ
    Cereal germ
    The germ of a cereal is the reproductive part that germinates to grow into a plant; it is the embryo of the seed. Along with bran, germ is often a by-product of the milling that produces refined grain products. Cereal grains and their components, such as wheat germ, rice bran, and maize may be used...

    , and is normally cooked or prepared on the eve of Nawroz or a few days before the Nawroz. Women take a special party for it during the night, and cook it from late in the evening till the daylight, singing a special song: Samanak dar Josh o mā Kafcha zanem - Degarān dar Khwāb o mā Dafcha zanem
  • Special cuisines: People cook special types of dishes for Nowroz, especially on the eve of Nowroz. Normally they cook Sabzi Chalaw, a dish made from rice
    Rice
    Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

     and spinach
    Spinach
    Spinach is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant , which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions...

    , separately. Moreover, the bakeries prepare a special type of cookie
    Cookie
    In the United States and Canada, a cookie is a small, flat, baked treat, usually containing fat, flour, eggs and sugar. In most English-speaking countries outside North America, the most common word for this is biscuit; in many regions both terms are used, while in others the two words have...

    , called Kulcha-e Nowrozī, which is only baked for Nowroz. Another dish which is prepared mostly for the Nowroz days is Māhī wa Jelabī (Fried Fish and Jelabi) and it is the most often meal in picnics. In Afghanistan, it is a common custom among the affianced
    Engagement
    An engagement or betrothal is a promise to marry, and also the period of time between proposal and marriage which may be lengthy or trivial. During this period, a couple is said to be betrothed, affianced, engaged to be married, or simply engaged...

     families that the fiancé's family give presents to or prepare special dishes for the fiancée's family on special occasions such as in the two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr
    Eid ul-Fitr
    Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Fitr, Id-ul-Fitr, or Id al-Fitr , often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting . Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity," while Fiṭr means "breaking the fast"...

     and Eid al-Adha), Barā'at
    Mid-Sha'ban
    Mid-Sha'ban is thereceding night is known as Laylatul Bara’ah or Laylatun Nisfe min Sha’ban in the Arab world, and as Shab-e-barat in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Afghanistan...

     and in Nowroz. Hence, the special dish for Nowroz is Māhī wa Jelabī.
  • Sightseeing to Cercis
    Cercis
    Cercis , is a genus of about 10 species in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae of the pea family Fabaceae, native to warm-temperate regions. It contains small deciduous trees or large shrubs commonly known as Redbuds...

     fields
    : The citizens of Kabul
    Kabul
    Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

     go to Istalif
    Istalif
    Istālif is a village about 18 miles northwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, situated at at 1693 m altitude. It is the center of Istalif District, Kabul Province, Afghanistan. The village was destroyed during the longlasting wars around Kabul. There are a few repaired or newly constructed buildings. The...

    , Charikar
    Charikar
    Charikar is the main town of the Kohdaman Valley and the capital of Parwan Province in northern Afghanistan. The city lies on the road 69 km from Kabul to the northern provinces. Travelers would have to pass by the city when going to Mazari Sharif, Kunduz or Puli Khumri. Charikar is at the...

     or other green places around where the Cercis
    Cercis
    Cercis , is a genus of about 10 species in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae of the pea family Fabaceae, native to warm-temperate regions. It contains small deciduous trees or large shrubs commonly known as Redbuds...

     flowers grow. They go for picnic with their families during the first 2 weeks of New Year.
  • Jashn-e Dehqān: Jashn-e Dehqan means The Festival of Farmers. It is celebrated in the first day of year, in which the farmers walk in the cities as a sign of encouragement for the agricultural productions. In recent years, this activity is being performed only in Kabul and other major cities, in which the mayor and other high governmental personalities participate for watching and observing.
  • Kampirak: Like "Haji Nowruz" in Iran, he is an old bearded man wearing colorful clothes with a long hat and rosary who symbolizes beneficence and the power of nature yielding the forces of winter. He and his retinue pass village by village distributing gathered charities among people and do his shows like reciting poems. The tradition is observed in central provinces specially Bamyan and Daykundi.

Newroz celebration by Kurds




Although the Kurds celebrate Nowruz, it was not however until 2005 that Kurdish population of Turkey could celebrate their new year openly. "Thousands of people have been detained in Turkey, as the authorities take action against suspected supporters of the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK. The holiday is now official in Turkey after international pressure on the Turkish government to lift culture bans. Turkish government renamed the holiday Nevroz in 1995, and reclaimed it as a Turkish holiday.

The word 'Newroz' is Kurdish for 'Nowruz'. The Kurds celebrate this feast between 18th till 21 March. It is one of the few ‘people's celebrations’ that has survived and predates all the major religious festivals. The holiday is considered by Kurds to be the single most important holiday of every year.

With this festival
Festival
A festival or gala is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival....

 Kurds gather into the fairgrounds mostly outside the cities to welcome spring. Women wear colored dresses and spangled head scarves and young men wave flags of green, yellow and red, the colors of the Kurdish people. They hold this festival by lighting fire and dancing around it.

The main Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 greeting that accompanies the festival is Newroz pîroz be! literally translating to "Congratulations on the New Year" or equivalent to Happy Newroz!. Another greeting used is, Bijî Newroz!, simply meaning Long live Newroz!

Newroz is still largely considered as a potent symbol of Kurdish identity in Turkey. Newroz celebrations are usually organised by Kurdish cultural associations and pro-Kurdish political parties. Thus, the Democratic Society Party
Democratic Society Party
The Democratic Society Party was a Kurdish Kurdish nationalist political party in Turkey. The party considered itself social democratic, and had observer status in the Socialist International. It was considered to be the successor of the Democratic People's Party...

 was a leading force in the organisation of the 2006 Newroz events throughout Turkey. In recent years the Newroz celebration gathers around 1 million participants in Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

, the biggest city of the Kurdish dominated Southeastern Turkey. As the Kurdish Newroz celebrations in Turkey often are theater for political messages, the events are frequently criticized for being political rallies rather than cultural celebrations.

In other largely populated Kurdish regions in the Middle East including Iraq and Syria, similar celebrations are carried out with fire, dancing and music. In Iran, it is the most important festival of the whole year.

In Kurdistan, jumping over the fire (known as Chuwarshama Kulla) happens on New Year's Eve (rather the last Tuesday of the year).

Novruz in Azerbaijan


Usually preparation for Novruz begins a month prior to the festival. Each of forthcoming 4 weeks is devoted to one of the four elements and called accordingly in Azerbaijan. Each Tuesday people celebrate the day of one of the four elements - water, fire, earth and wind. People do house cleaning, plant trees, make new dresses, paint eggs, make national pastries such as shakarbura, pakhlava and a great variety of "national cuisine". Wheat is fried with kishmish (raisins) and nuts
Nut (fruit)
A nut is a hard-shelled fruit of some plants having an indehiscent seed. While a wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts in English, only a certain number of them are considered by biologists to be true nuts...

 (govurga). As a tribute to fire-worshiping every Tuesday during four weeks before the holiday kids jump over small bonfires and candles are lit. On the holiday eve the graves of relatives are visited and tended.

Novruz is a family holiday. In the evening before the holiday the whole family gathers around the holiday table laid with various dishes to make the New Year rich. The holiday goes on for several days and ends with festive public dancing and other entertainment of folk bands, contests of national sports. In rural areas crop holidays are marked.

The decoration of the festive table is khoncha, a big silver or copper tray with Samani
Samanu
Samanū , Samanak , or Sumalak or Sümölök is a sweet paste made from germinated wheat, which is prepared for Nowruz in a large pot . Traditionally, women take a special party for it during the night, and cook it from late in the evening till the daylight, singing related songs...

 placed in the centre and candles and dyed eggs by the number of family members around it. The table should be set, at least, with seven dishes.

On the last Tuesday prior to Novruz, according to old traditions children slip around to their neighbours' homes and apartments, knock at their doors, and leave their caps or little basket on the thresholds all the while hiding nearby waiting for candies, pastries and nuts.

Nowruz in the Zoroastrian faith


Zoroastrians worldwide celebrate Nowruz as the first day of the New Year
New Year
The New Year is the day that marks the time of the beginning of a new calendar year, and is the day on which the year count of the specific calendar used is incremented. For many cultures, the event is celebrated in some manner....

. Parsi Zoroastrians of South Asian origin celebrate it as "Nowroj", "Navroz", or "Navroj" on the fixed day of March 21, while Zoroastrians of Iranian background generally celebrate, like other Iranians, on the actual Spring Equinox date. Because different Zoroastrian communities in India/Pakistan and Iran have evolved slightly different calendar systems, there is some variance. Adherents of the Fasli variant of the Zoroastrian calendar
Zoroastrian calendar
This article treats of the reckoning of days, months and years in the calendar used by adherents of the Zoroastrian faith. Zoroastrian religious festivals are discussed elsewhere, but have a fixed relationship to Nawruz, the New Year festival, whose timing is discussed below...

 celebrate Nowruz in March, but today, most other Zoroastrians also celebrate on this day.

Other variants of the Zoroastrian calendar
Zoroastrian calendar
This article treats of the reckoning of days, months and years in the calendar used by adherents of the Zoroastrian faith. Zoroastrian religious festivals are discussed elsewhere, but have a fixed relationship to Nawruz, the New Year festival, whose timing is discussed below...

 celebrate the Nowruz twice: once as Jamshedi
Jamshid
Jamshid is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition.In tradition and folklore, Jamshid is described as having been the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Pishdadian dynasty . This role is already alluded to in Zoroastrian scripture Jamshid (Middle-...

 Nowruz
on March 21 as the start of spring, and a second Nowruz, in July/August (see Variations of the Zoroastrian calendar), as either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. That the second Nowruz is celebrated after the last day of the year, known as Pateti, which comes after a Muktad period of days remembering the dead. Many Parsis are confused by this, and mistakenly celebrate Pateti as if it were Nowruz, when in fact Nowruz is the day after. Some attribute this confusion by some as celebrating the last day of the year (contrary to what might be expected from a term that means "new day"), may be due to the fact that in ancient Persia the day began at sunset, while in later Persian belief the day began at sunrise.

Zoroastrians of Iranian origin generally put up a Haft Sin table as do other Iranians. Zoroastrians of Parsi (South Asian) origin do not traditionally use a Haft Sin. They set up a standard "sesh" tray- generally a silver tray, with a container of rose water, a container with betel nut, raw rice, raw sugar, flowers, a picture of Zarathustra the prophet, and either a floating wick in a glass filled with water topped with oil for fuel, or an "afargania", a silver urn with a small fire nourished by sandalwood and other fragrant resins.

Nowruz in the Twelver Shi’a faith


Along with Ismailis, Alawites and Alevis, the Twelver Shi’a also hold the day of Nowruz in high regard. The day upon which Nowruz falls has been recommended as a day of fasting for Twelver Shi’a Muslims by Shi’a scholars, including Abul-Qassim al-Khoei, Imam Khomeini and Ali al-Sistani. The day also assumes special significance for Shias as it was on 21 March 656 AD when the first Imam Hazrat Ali assumed the office of Caliphate.

Naw-Rúz in the Bahá'í Faith



Naw-Rúz in the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 is one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá'í Faith worldwide and the first day of the Bahá'í calendar
Bahá'í calendar
The Bahá'í calendar, also called the Badí‘ calendar , used by the Bahá'í Faith, is a solar calendar with regular years of 365 days, and leap years of 366 days. Years are composed of 19 months of 19 days each, plus an extra period of "Intercalary Days"...

 occurring on the vernal equinox, around March 21. The Bahá'í calendar is composed of 19 months, each of 19 days, and each of the months is named after an attribute of God; similarly each of the nineteen days in the month also are named after an attribute of God. The first day and the first month were given the attribute of Bahá, an Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 word meaning splendour or glory, and thus the first day of the year was the day of Bahá in the month of Bahá. Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh , born ' , was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. He claimed to be the prophetic fulfilment of Bábism, a 19th-century outgrowth of Shí‘ism, but in a broader sense claimed to be a messenger from God referring to the fulfilment of the eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity, and...

, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, explained that Naw-Rúz was associated with the Most Great Name of God, and was instituted as a festival for those who observed the Nineteen day fast
Nineteen Day Fast
The Nineteen-Day Fast is a nineteen-day period of the year, during which members of the Bahá'í Faith adhere to a sunrise-to-sunset fast. Along with obligatory prayer, it is one of the greatest obligations of a Bahá'í, and its chief purpose is spiritual; to reinvigorate the soul and bring the...

.

The day is also used to symbolize the renewal of time in each religious dispensation. `Abdu'l-Bahá
`Abdu'l-Bahá
‘Abdu’l-Bahá , born ‘Abbás Effendí, was the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1892, `Abdu'l-Bahá was appointed in his father's will to be his successor and head of the Bahá'í Faith. `Abdu'l-Bahá was born in Tehran to an aristocratic family of the realm...

, Bahá'u'lláh's son and successor, explained that significance of Naw-Rúz in terms of spring
Spring (season)
Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

 and the new life it brings. He explained that the equinox is a symbol of the messengers of God
Manifestation of God
The Manifestation of God is a concept in the Bahá'í Faith that refers to what are commonly called prophets. The Manifestations of God are a series of personages who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world for the progress and advancement of human morals and civilization...

 and the message that they proclaim is like a spiritual springtime, and that Naw-Rúz is used to commemorate it.

As with all Bahá'í holy days, there are few fixed rules for observing Naw-Rúz, and Bahá'ís all over the world celebrate it as a festive day, according to local custom. Persian Bahá'ís still observe many of the Iranian customs associated with Nowruz such as the Haft Sîn, but American Bahá'í communities, for example, may have a potluck dinner, along with prayers and readings from Bahá'í scripture
Bahá'í literature
Bahá'í literature, like much religious text, covers a variety of topics and forms, including scripture and inspiration, interpretation, history and biography, introduction and study materials, and apologia...

.

Novruz celebration in China


Traditionally, "Nawriz" was celebrated mainly in China's Xinjiang Uyghur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

 Autonomous Region by the Uyghur, Chinese Tajik, Salar, and Kazakh
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

 ethnicities.

UN recognition


The UN's General Assembly in 2010 recognized March 21 as the International Day of Nowruz, describing it a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and calling on world countries to draw on the holiday's rich history to promote peace and goodwill. During the meeting of The Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage of the United Nations, held between 28 September – 2 October 2009 in Abu Dhabi, Nowrūz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In response to the UN recognition, Iran unveiled a postage stamp. The stamp was made public in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the first International Nowruz Celebrations in Tehran on Saturday, 27 March 2010. President Ahmadinejad also called for joint efforts to further acquaint the world about the meaningful holiday, adding that it could significantly promote global peace and justice: “Observing Nowruz will not only promote cultural values, but it will also help nations establish relations based on friendship, peace, justice and respect.”

Spelling variations in English


A variety of spelling variations for the word "nowruz" exist in English-language usage. Random House (unabridged) provides the spelling "nowruz".
Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster
Merriam–Webster, which was originally the G. & C. Merriam Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, is an American company that publishes reference books, especially dictionaries that are descendants of Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language .Merriam-Webster Inc. has been a...

 (2006) recognizes only the spelling "nauruz" (and a contestant in the final session of the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee
Scripps National Spelling Bee
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a highly competitive annual spelling bee in the United States, with participants from other countries as well. It is run on a not-for-profit basis by The E. W...

, Allion Salvador, in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was disqualified on that basis).
In the USA, many respected figures in the field of language such as Dr. Yarshater at Columbia University have suggested to use Nowruz .

See also


  • Iranian calendar
    Iranian calendar
    The Iranian calendars or sometimes called Persian calendars are a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Greater Iran...

  • Iranian festivals
    Iranian festivals
    - Iranian Festivals :* Nowruz: the word now means new and the word ruz means day, so nowruz means starting a new day and it is the Celebration of the start of spring...

  • Sham el-Nessim
  • Kha b-Nisan
    Kha b-Nisan
    Kha b' Nisan or Ha b' Nisin, also Ha b' Nison; "First of April", Resha d'Sheta; "Head of the year" in Syriac, also known as Akitu, or Assyrian New Year is the spring festival among the Assyrians, celebrated on 1 April....

  • Assyrian new year
    Assyrian new year
    Assyrian new year may refer to* Akitu, the Assyrian-Babylonian new year festival.* Assyrian New Year, an Assyrian nationalist festival reintroduced in the 1950s...

  • Earth Day
    Earth Day
    Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment. The name and concept of Earth Day was allegedly pioneered by John McConnell in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. The first Proclamation of Earth Day was by San Francisco, the...

  • New Year's Day
    New Year's Day
    New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

  • Nowruz Eve among Mazandarani people
    Nowruz Eve among Mazandarani people
    The Tabarian New Year, or neowrez, is an event occurring in the pintek days of the Tabarian Calendar,Pintek in the Mazandarani language of Iran, means pentad since in Mazanderani calendar year is divided to 12 months consisting of 30 days and one pentad days...

  • Public holidays in Iran
    Public holidays in Iran
    Iran uses three official calendar systems: the Iranian calendar as the main date, the lunar Islamic calendar for religious events, and the Gregorian calendar for international events ....


External links