This coming Tuesday (20th March 2012) will be the first day of Iranian New Year. We call it Norouz or Norooz and also Nowrooz. In the Persian language, Norouz means “new day”. We will enter:
- 7034 based on Mitrai Arian calendar.
- 3750 based on Zoroastrian calendar.
- 2571 based on unification of Persian Empire by Cyrus the great.
- 1391 based on Islamic calendar.
Listen to a very nice soundtrack about Persian New Year here.
Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. 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 and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.
THE HAFT SEEN
A few weeks before the New Year, Iranians clean and rearrange their homes. They make new clothes, bake pastries and germinate seeds as sign of renewal.
Commonly Norouz is celebrated by spreading a “Haft seen”. “Haft” is the number seven in Persian and “Seen” is the letter S in the Persian alphabet. The elements in Haft Seen have symbolic meanings and represent life-rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience and beauty.
The seven articles are Seer (garlic), Senjed (lotus tree fruit), Serkeh (vinegar), Seeb (apple), Somaq (sumac berries), Sabzeh (grown wheat or lentil), and samanu (Iranian sweet pudding).
These seven articles are spread on the table with a copy of Quran. These Iranian customs symbolise the triumph of good over evil. It is the focal point of the celebration and as such Iranians take great care and pride in putting together a lavish and elaborate spread to signify all that they want in the New Year.
The UN’s General Assembly in 2010 recognized the International Day of Nowrooz, describing it a spring festival of Persian 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 in 2009, Nowrooz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.