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NOROOZ (New Day): The New Year Of the Iranian People

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
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Norooz (Nowruz, Nevruz, Newruz, Navruz) in Persian means "New [-year]-day".  It is the beginning of the year for the peoples of Iran (Greater Iran, including: Afghanistan, Arran (Republic of Azerbaijan) and Central Asian Republics).   

Turkey too has decided to declare Norooz a holiday.  It is also celebrated as the New Year by the people of the Iranian stock, particularly the Kurds, in the neighboring countries of Georgia, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

It begins precisely with the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on or about March 21. Tradition takes Norooz as far back as 15,000 years--before the last ice age.  King Jamshid (Yima or Yama of the Indo-Iranian lore) symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry and a more settled life in human history.  Seasons played a vital part then.  Everything depended on the four seasons.  After a sever winter, the beginning of spring was a great occasion with mother nature rising up in a green robe of colorful flowers and the cattle delivering their young.  It was the dawn of abundance.  Jamshid is said to be the person who introduced Norooz celebrations.

Some 12 centuries later, in 487 B.C.E., Darius the Great of the Achaemenian dynasty celebrated the Norooz at his newly built Persepolis in Iran. A recent research shows that it was a very special occasion.  On that day, the first rays of the rising sun fell on the observatory in the great hall of audience at 06-30 a.m., an event which repeats itself once every 1400-1 years.  It also happened to coincide with the Babylonian and Jewish new years.  It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient peoples. The Persepolis was the place, the Achaemenian king received, on Norooz, his peoples from all over the vast empire.  The walls of the great royal palace depict the scenes of the celebrations.

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

Today, the ceremony has been simplified.  Every house gets a thorough cleaning almost a month before. Wheat, barley, lentils, and other vegetables seeds are soaked to grow on china plates and round earthenware vessels some ten days in advance, so that the sprouts are three to four inches in height by Norooz. A table is laid. It has a copy of the Koran, a mirror, candles, incense burner, bowl of water with live gold fish, the plates and vessels with green sprouts, flowers, fruits, coins, bread, sugar cone, various grains, fresh vegetables, colorfully painted boiled eggs like the “Easter eggs,” and above all, seven articles with their names beginning in Persian with the letter s or sh. The usual things with s are vinegar, sumac, garlic, samanu (consistency of germinating wheat), apple, senjed (sorb?), and herbs. Those with sh include wine, sugar, syrup, honey, candy, milk, and rice-pudding. The seven articles are prominently exhibited in small bowls or plates on the table. The whole table, beautifully laid, symbolizes the Message and the Messenger, light, reflection, warmth, life, love, joy, production, prosperity, and nature. It is, in fact, a very elaborate thanksgiving table for all the good beautifully bestowed by God.

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم