Sunday, March 13, 2005

~*~ NOROOZ ~*~

NOROOZ in Persian means "New [-Year]-Day." It is
the beginning of the year for Iranians, as well
as the peoples of the ancient Greater Iran that
includes today's Afghanistan, Republic of Azarbaijan
.Tajikestan, and other Central Asian Republics
.Turkey, too, has decided to declare Norooz a Holiday
It is also celebrated as the New Year Day by the Kurds
in the neighboring countries of Georgia, Iraq, Syria
and Turkey. The Iranian year begins precisely with
the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on or
.about March 21

Tradition takes Norooz as far back as many
millenniums. Avestan and later scriptures
indicate that as early as 1725 BCE, Zarthushtra
himself an astronomer, improved the old
Indo-Iranian calendar by making it into a
luni-solar year of 365 days, 5 hours and a
fraction. Over time, the calendar has been
further corrected to be a purely solar year of
365 days, 5 hrs, 48 min, and 45.5 sec. This is
believed to be the best and most correct
.calendar produced so far

Some 12 centuries later, in 487 BCE, Darius
the Great of the Achaemenian dynasty celebrated
.Norooz at his newly built Persepolis in Persia
The walls of the great royal palace depict
the scenes of this great celebration. We know
that Iran under the Parthian dynasty celebrated
.the occasion, more or less in the same manner
The most colorful celebration of Norooz, however
has been reported from the time of Sasanian
dynasty. Then, preparations used to begin at
.least 25 days before Norooz
Since the Arab invasion and Isalmization of
Iran, 14 centuries ago, the peoples of
the Iranian Culture, whether Zarathushtis
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Bahai's, or
others, have celebrated Norooz, each and
..every year precisely at the time of vernal equinox

Today, Iranians and Zarathushtis begin
preparation for Norooz and the New Year, from
.the last several days of the outgoing year
For Zoroastrians, the last five days of
the year constitute the "PANJEH," the last
Gohanbar of the year. In preparation for Norooz
and greeting the souls of the departed loved
ones, houses are cleaned completely and rituals
of Gohanbar are observed. Non-Zarthushti Iranians
go through this preparation ritual
.of "house cleaning," as well
The actual Norooz ceremonies begin on
the eve of the last Wednesday of
the outgoing year, referred to
as "chaharshanbeh soori," meaning "Red
Wednesday." The festivity includes firework
.and jumping over small bonfires
At the time of Vernal Equinox, the beginning
of the New Year, all members of
the family gather around a Norooz Table
.and its beautiful centerpiece, HAFT SEEN

Haft seen is made of seven symbolic dishes
:that start with letter S in Persian, consisting of

.SABZEH or sprouts, representing rebirth

SAMANOO, a creamy pudding that represents
.sweetness, fertility, and having many children

.SEEB, apple, represents health and beauty

.SENJED, the fruit of Lotus tree, represents love

.SEER, garlic, represents medicine and health

SOMAQ, sumac berries, represents the color of
.sunrise—triumph of Good over Evil

.SERKEH, vinegar, represents age and patience

Family members, all dressed in their best
anxiously await the announcement of the beginning
of the New Year and Norooz. The head of
the family recites the Norooz prayers, and
after the announcement of the New Year, each
member kisses the other and wishes a Happy
.Norooz. Elders give gifts to the younger members
Next, the rounds of visits to neighbors
relatives, and friends begin. Each visit is
reciprocated. The New Year festivities and
celebrations continue for twelve days. Singing
.and dancing is more or less a daily routine
Zoroastrians celebrate the birthday of Zarthushtra
".on the 6th day of the New Year, called "Norooz Bozorg

The 13th day of the New Year, called
seezdeh-be-dar," marks the end of Norooz"
festivities. On the morning, the mass picnic
to countryside begins. Cities and villages
turn into ghost towns with almost all
the inhabitants gone to enjoy the day in
the woods and mountains along streams and
.riversides. People sing, dance, and make merry

Norooz, indeed, is a truly national festival
of the Iranian culture. Being in harmony
with nature, it does not belong to any
religion nor is it associated with any
political event and or dynasty. As such
.it has survived many millenniums
The Persian (Iranian) Empire has seen many
.conquerors throughout its long, long history
But, every time, the Iranian culture has
indeed Iranianized the conquerors and
invaders… And, NOROOZ has been the one cultural
festival celebrated at all times, even when
Iranian peoples were under the yoke of
the invaders/conquerors. It has indeed
facilitated the continuity of the Iranian
culture, from generation to generation,
..since the beginning of the Iranian history

~ from: ~

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