NOWRUZ; A CELEBRATION OF LIFE IN IRAN
Nowruz as the most splendid, popular, and ancient Iranian festival is deeply rooted in Zoroastrianism. Iranians celebrate New Year with revival of nature from wintertime. Ancientness, colorfulness, and affluent symbolism of Nowruz are comparable to other countries and nations’ beliefs and customs.
Nowruz is the Celebration of Life which is determined according to the spring equinox and coincided with March 21 as the beginning of the spring in the northern hemisphere.
Haji-Firuz, Herald of Nowruz, as the tambourine man in red and with black painted face goes to all cities and villages while dancing and singing happy and vernal songs and gives glad tidings to young and old. Esfand, as the last month of Persian year is the golden chance for welcoming preparations in which Iranian matrons and housekeepers begin to spring cleaning (Khaneh- Takani, in Persian). It consists of washing, cleaning and also dusting off carpets and furniture and re-setting them. Planting seeds of wheat, lentil, or barley in pots, two or three weeks before Nowruz eve, is a beautiful and wonderful custom of this festival in the name of planting Sabzeh. It can be said that nowadays people buy Sabzeh from florist’s shops. Kharid-E-Nowruz (Nowruz shopping) is one of the most exciting customs of welcoming Nowruz eve. It consists of purchasing new garments, sweets, Flowers such as hyacinths and tulips and Haft-Seen Table (Sofreye Haft-Seen).
SEVEN is a sacred number in Persian Mythology. According to beliefs, seven levels of earth and heaven, seven Gods and seven constellations control seven days of a week and mortal fate.
Haft-Seen as the integral part of all Iranian households in Nowruz festival, has seven S-items on the basis of their Persian names. Its role in Nowruz eve is comparable with Christmas tree. Zoroastrians used to decorate haft-Seen in seven big trays and place seven various foods in a tray. Each item introduces a symbol as follow:
- SABZEH with a red (or orange-colored) ribbon around it, as the symbol of rebirth and revitalization, is the most eminent item of haft seen table.
- SEEB (red or yellow apple) as the symbol of beauty and health.
- SAMANOO (a sweet pudding made with wheat germ juice, flour, water, saffron) as the symbol of wealth.
- SENJED (Sea-buckthorn) as the symbol of love
- SEER (Garlic) as the symbol of guardian table
- SUMAC as the symbol of sunrise
- SERKEH (Vinegar) as the symbol of patience.
There are seven other items which are placed on the haft-seen table, although their names don’t began with voice of (S) in Farsi language as follow:
The Quran, a mirror, two candles, painted eggs (as like as eggs of Easter), a bowl of water with an orange floating in it, one, two or three Golf fish swinging in a crystal cup, confections, a variety of fruits, kolucheh (a traditional biscuit), Iranian traditional sweets such as Baghlava (a kind of pastry), Ajeel (dried nut and seeds) such as pistachio, almond, Hazel-nut, dried fig, mulberry, raisin, etc.. The items mentioned above are other important parts of Nowruz festival which repeat the variety of colors in Iranian table.
Nowruz has its own particular meals such as Sabzi-Polo-Mahi (rice with green herbs and fish) which will be cooked and served at the night preceding or first day of Nowruz eve. Reshteh Polo, rice cooked with noodles, will be served on the next day while Koku Sabzi (herbs and vegetable soufflé) served as the dinner. Polo (cooked rice) and chicken will be served at Friday night prior to Nowruz.
Nowruz will be begun with Tahvil-E-Saal Ceremony which can be translated as delivery of a year. Incipient moment of new Iranian year is coincided with spring equinox.
At the moment of Tahvil-E-Saal (delivery of a year), all members of a family dress up and gather together around Hasft- Seen table while they are looking forward to come about the moment of Tahvil-E-Saal. At the glamouros and dreamy moment of Tahvil-E-Saal all the members of a family embrace, kiss and congratulate each other on New Year and Nowruz eve. Everyone has a set schedule of visits and receiving visitors during Nowruz holidays. It is customary for the young call on the elder in order to respect them, on the basis of Persians beliefs and customs.
EIDI, the New Year gift, is another special characteristic of Nowruz. It is duty of elders who offer Eidi to members of their family and also hosts offer Eidi to guests’ children. The period of visitations may be 12 days or until 13th day which is called SIZDAH-BE-DAR.
Among all Iranian traditional ceremonies, Nowruz with various characteristics and aspects perform and celebrate in every region of Iran as well as Persian language countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan Georgia, etc.
Nowruz repeats; renews everything; revives nature and influences Iranian creative soul, emotion and thought.