Nawruz mubarak, Nawruzangar menena
Cross-regional and Blogosphere, Politics and Society7 Comments
To all those concerned!
For those who want to know a bit more about the origins and background of the Iranian/Persian new year (whiich it was at the origin), here’s a quite extensive Wikipedia article about it.
(Nawruz) is the traditional new year holiday in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of India, and among the Kurds. It is also celebrated in Turkey and various countries of Central Asia. (…) Nawruz is the festival of (the first day of) spring and the beginning of the Iranian Year. It is celebrated by some communities on March 21st, and by others on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which may occur on March 20th, 21st or 22nd.
A most interesting custom is the ‘haft seen’ table, the ’8 s-es’:
The contemporary Haft Seen spread includes seven of the following items:
Sabzeh – wheat or lentils grown in a tray or dish prior to Noe-Rooz to represent rebirth,
Samanu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ, symbolizing affluence,
Senjed – the dried fruit of the lotus tree which represents love,
Seer – which means garlic in Persian, and represents medicine,
Seeb – which means apple in Persian, and represents beauty and health,
Somaq – sumac berries, which represent the colour of the sun rise,
Serkeh – which means vinegar in Persian, and represents age and patience,
Sonbol – the hyacinth flower with its strong fragrance heralding the coming of spring, and
Sekkeh – coins representing prosperity and wealth.
Alhtough the celebration is Zoroastrian by origin and by shooed by the more fundementalist Ulemah, it is a good example of a pre-Islamic custom that found its way in Islam. One factor that likely facilitated that is the predominance of Hanafi and Sufi Islam that is open to pre-Islamic elements if that strenghtens and promotes the faith.
Nawruz, along with Sadeh (that is celebrated in mid-winter), survived in society following the introduction of Islam in 650 CE. Other celebrations such Gahanbar and Mehragan were eventually side-lined or were only followed by the Zoroastrians, who carried them as far as India. Nawruz, however, was most honored even by the early founders of Islam. There are records of the Four Great Caliphs presiding over Nawruz celebrations, and it was adopted as the main royal holiday during the Abbasid period.
Following the demise of the Caliphate and the subsequent re-emergence of Persian dynasties such as the Samanids and Buyids, Nawruz was elevated to an even more important event. The Buyids revived the ancient traditions of Sasanian times and restored many smaller celebrations that had been eliminated by the Caliphate. Even the Turkish and Mongol invaders did not attempt to abolish Nowruz in favor of any other celebration.
Also, I think Nawruz celebrates a real, natural beginning something – i.e. springtime – more than the international/Western new year.