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Norouz From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:31 pm    Post subject: Norouz From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia Reply with quote

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Norouz is celebration of the coming of Spring and the Iranian new yearNorouz (also spelled Noe-Rooz, Norouz, Norooz, Noruz, Novruz, Noh Ruz, Nauroz, Nav-roze, Navroz, Naw-Rúz, Nevruz or Nowrouz and in Persian نوروز) is the traditional new year holiday in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and among the Kurds. It is also celebrated in Turkey and various countries of Central Asia.[1] It is also the first day of the Bahá'í calendar and a holy day for adherants of the Bahá'í Faith.

Norouz 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 (start of spring), which may occur on March 20th, 21st or 22nd.

The word comes from the Old Persian [2] nava=new + rəzaŋh=day/daylight; meaning "new day/daylight", and still has the same meaning in modern Persian (no=new + rouz=day; meaning "new day").

Contents [hide]
1 History
2 Local variations
2.1 Norouz in modern Iran
2.1.1 Chahar Shanbe Soori
2.1.2 The Haft Seen
2.1.3 Haji Firooz
2.1.4 New Year Dishes
2.1.5 Sizdah Bedar
2.2 Kurdish celebration of Newroz
2.2.1 Legend
2.2.2 In modern times
2.3 Bahá'í Faith
2.4 Fasli
2.5 Norouz in Tajikestan
3 External links


Persepolis all nations stair caseThe term Norouz first appeared in Persian records in the second century CE, but there are reasons to believe that the celebration is much older and was probably an important day during the Achaemenid times (c. 648-330 BCE). It has been suggested that the famous Persepolis complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and the "Hundred Columns Hall", were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Norouz. However, no mention of Norouz exists in Achaemenid inscriptions.

The oldest records of Norouz go back to the Arsacid/Parthian times (247 BCE-224 CE). There are specific references to the celebration of Norouz during the reign Vologases I (51-78 CE), but these include no details.

Extensive records on the celebration of Norouz appear following the accession of Ardashir I of Persia, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty (224-650 CE). Under the Sassanid kings, Norouz was celebrated as the most important day of the year. Most royal traditions of Norouz such as royal audiences with the public, cash gifts, and the pardoning of prisoners, were established during the Sassanian era and they persisted unchanged until modern times.

Norouz, 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. Norouz, however, was most honored even by the early founders of Islam. There are records of the Four Great Caliphs presiding over Nowruz 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, Norouz 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 Norouz in favor of any other celebration. Thus, Norouz remained as the main celebration in the Persian lands by both the officials and the people.

Local variations
Nowruz has been celebrated for at least 3000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian religion. Today, the festival of Norouz is celebrated in many countries that were territories of, or influenced by, the Persian Empire: Persia (Iran), Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of the middle-east, as well as in the former soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan,Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is also celebrated by the Zoroastrian Parsis and Iranis in India, and is a public holiday in Turkey, where it is called Nevruz or Bayram in Turkish and Newroz in Kurdish.

In most countries, the greeting that accompanies the festival is Ayd-e Norouz Mobārak (mubarak: felicitations) in Persian. In Turkey, the greeting is either Bayramınız Mubarek/kutlu olsun (in Turkish) or Cejna we pîroz be (in Kurdish).

Norouz in modern Iran
In Iran (Persia), preparations for Noruz begin in Esfand, the last month of winter in the Persian solar calendar. Persians, Afghans and other groups start preparing for the Norouz with a major spring-cleaning of their houses, the purchase of new clothes to wear for the new year and the purchase of flowers (in particular the hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous).

In association with the "rebirth of nature", extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Persia. This is also extended to personal attire, and it is customary to buy at least one set of new clothes. On the New Year's day, families dress in their new clothes and start the twelve-day celebrations by visiting the elders of their family, then the rest of their family and finally their friends. On the thirteenth day families leave their homes and picnic outdoors.

During the Nowruz holidays people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbours) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the youth will visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later. The visits naturally have to be relatively short, otherwise one will not be able to visit everybody on their list. A typical visit is around 30 minutes, where you often run into other visiting relatives and friends who happen to be paying a visit to the same house at that time. Because of the house visits, you make sure you have a sufficient supply of pastry, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and special nuts on hand, as you typically serve your visitors with these items with tea or sherbet. Many Iranians will throw large Nowruz parties in a central location as a way of dealing with the long distances between groups of friends and family.

Some Norouz celebrants believe that whatever a person does on Norouz will affect the rest of the year. So, if a person is warm and kind to their relatives, friends and neighbors on Nowruz, then the new year will be a good one. On the other hand, if there are fights and disagreements, the year will be a bad one.

One tradition that may not be very widespread (that is, it may belong to only a few families) is to place something sweet, such as honey or candy, in a safe place outside overnight. On the first morning of the new year, the first person up brings the sweet stuff into the house as another means of attaining a good new year.

Chahar Shanbe Soori

A man celebrating Chaharshanbe SooriMain article: Chaharshanbe Suri
The last Wednesday of the year is celebrated by the Iranian people as Chahar Shanbe Soori Persian: چهارشنبه سوری), the Iranian festival of fire. This festival is the celebration of the light (the good) winning over the darkness (the bad), the symbolism behind the rituals are all rooted back to Zoroastrianism.

The tradition includes people going into the streets and alleys to make fires, and jump over them while singing the traditional song Zardie man az tou Sorkhie tou az man (literally: "My yellowness from you, your redness from me; ", but figuratively: My paleness (pain, sickness) to you, your strength (health) to me.

Serving different kinds of pastry and nuts known as Ajile Moshkel Gosha (lit. The problem-solving nuts) is the Chahar Shanbe Soori way of giving thanks for the previous year's health and happiness, while exchanging any remaining paleness and evil for the warmth and vibrancy of the fire.

According to tradition, the living are visited by the spirit of their ancestors on the last days of the year, and many children wrap themselves in shrouds, symbolically re-enacting the visits. They also run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons and knocking on doors to ask for treats. The ritual is called qashogh-zany (spoon beating) and symbolizes the beating out of the last unlucky Wednesday of the year.

There are also several other traditions on this night, including the rituals of Koozeh Shekastan, the breaking of earthen jars which symbolically hold ones bad fortune; the ritual of Fal-Goosh, or inferring one's future from the conversations of those passing by; and the ritual of Gereh-gosha-ee, making a knot in the corner of a handkerchief or garment and asking the first passerby to unravel it in order to remove ones misfortune.

The Haft Seen

The Traditional Haft SeenA major tradition of Norouz is the setting of the Haft Seen (هفت سین) - the seven 'S's, seven items starting with letter S or "seen" (س) in Persian alphabet), which are seven specific items on a table symbolically corresponding to the seven creations and the seven holy immortals protecting them. Today they are changed and modified but some have kept their symbolism. Every family attempts to set as beautiful a Haft Seen table as they can, as it is not only of special spiritual meaning to them, but also is noticed by visitors to their house during Norouzi visitations and is a reflection of their good taste.

The following list is an example of some common Haft Seen items, though there isn't consensus as to which seven:

sabzeh - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish (symbolising rebirth)
samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ (symbolising affluence)
senjed - the dried fruit of the jujube tree (love)
seer - garlic (medicine)
seeb - apples, (beauty and health)
somaq - sumac berries (the colour of the sunrise)
serkeh - vinegar (age and patience)
sonbol - the fragrant hyacinth flower (the coming of spring)
sekkeh - coins (prosperity and wealth)
Other items on the table may include:

lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
a mirror
painted eggs, perhaps one for each member of the family (fertility)
a bowl with two goldfish (life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
rose water for its magical cleansing powers
the national colours, for a patriotic touch
a holy book (e.g., the Qur'an, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bible, Torah or the Avesta) or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnama or of Hafez)
Haji Firooz
The traditional herald of the Norouz season is called Haji Pirooz, or Hadji Firuz. He symbolizes the rebirth of the Sumerian god of sacrifice, Domuzi, who was killed at the end of each year and reborn at the beginning of the New Year. Wearing black make up and a red costume, Haji Pirooz sings and dances through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and the news of the coming New Year.

New Year Dishes
Sabzi Polo Mahi: The New Year's day traditional meal is called Sabzi Polo Mahi, which is rice with green herbs served with fish. The traditional seasonings for Sabzi Polo are parsley, coriander, chives, dill and fenugreek.
Reshteh Polo: rice cooked with noodles which is said to symbolically help one succeed in life.
Sizdah Bedar
The thirteenth day of the New Year festival is Sizdah Bedar (meaning "thirteen outdoors"), is a day of festivity in the open, often accompanied by music and dancing. The day is usually spent at family picnics.

The thirteenth day celebrations, Seezdah Bedar, stem from the belief of the ancient Persians that the twelve constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years. At the end of which, the sky and the earth collapsed in chaos. Hence, Nowruz lasts twelve days and the thirteenth day represents the time of chaos when families put order aside and avoid the bad luck associated with the number thirteen by going outdoors and having picnics and parties.

At the end of the celebrations on this day, the sabzeh grown for the Haft Seen (which has symbolically collected all the sickness and bad luck) is thrown into running water to exorcise the demons (divs) from the household. It is also customary for young single women to tie the leaves of the sabzeh before discarding it, so expressing a wish to be married before the next year's Seezdah Bedar.

Kurdish celebration of Newroz

Kurds celebrating Newroz in Istanbul, 2006.Main article: Kurdish celebration of Newroz
Newroz (Also called: Newroj meaning: new sun or new day) is the Kurdish New Year and the Kurdish version of the spring festival among the Kurdish people. It begins between 18th till 21th March. It is one of the few ‘peoples celebrations’ that has survived and predates all the major religious festivals.

With this festival Kurds gather into the fairgrounds mostly outside the cities to welcome spring. Women wear gaily colored dresses and spangled head scarves and young men wave flags of green, yellow and red, the colors of the Kurdish people. By lighting fire and dancing around it they hold this festival. [3], also see: [4].

The Kurdish greetings that accompany the festival are Newroz píroz be! meaning Happy Newroz! or Bijí Newroz! meaning Long live Newroz!

According to the Kurdish legends, Newroz celebrates the overthrow of Zuhak (Dehaq) the tyrant, an Assyrian king in present day Kurdistan who had snakes growing out of his shoulders and required human sacrifices to control his affliction. He was eventually defeated when a brave blacksmith by the name of Kaveh led a revolt against him and freed the people. Kaveh then climbed to the top of the mountain above the castle and lit a large bonfire to tell all the people of Mesopotamia that they were free. Soon, hundreds of fires all over the land were lit to spread the message and the flames lept high into the night sky, lighting it up and cleansing the air of the smell of Zuhak and his evil deeds. The same way that Kurdish people still light fire in this day. In the reign of Sennacherib (705-682 BC) the House of the New Year, Akitu, was built and the festivities celebrated in the city. The new Year festival was usually canceled in Mesopotamia when the ruling King was not present in the city [5].

In modern times

Newroz celebration, Istanbul, 2006.The festival was illegal until 2000 in Turkey, where most of the Kurds live [6], and Turkish forces arrested Kurds celebrating Newroz [7]. In Newroz 1992 at least 70 people celebrating the festival were killed by Turkish security forces [8]. The official Turkey now celebrates Nevruz as a Turkish spring holiday. Newroz is however still considered as a potent symbol of Kurdish identity in Turkey. Newroz celebrations are usually organised by Kurdish cultural associations and pro-Kurdish political parties. Thus, the Democratic Society Party was a leading force in the organisation of the 2006 Newroz events throughout Turkey. In recent years the Newroz celebration gathers around 1 million participants in Diyarbakir, the biggest city of the Kurdish dominated Southeastern Turkey. As the Kurdish Newroz celebrations in Turkey often are theater for political messages, the events are frequently criticized for rather being political rallies than cultural celebrations.

Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith, a religion with its origin in Iran, celebrates this day (spelling it "Naw Rúz") as a religious holiday marking not only the new year according to the Bahá'í calendar, but the end of their Nineteen Day Fast. Persian Bahá'ís still observe many Iranian customs associated with it, but Bahá'ís all over the world celebrate it as a festive day, according to local custom. American Bahá'í communities, for example, may have a potluck dinner, along with prayers and readings from Bahá'í scripture. While Naw Rúz, according to scripture, begins on the vernal equinox, Bahá'ís currently celebrate it on March 21, regardless of what day the equinox falls. Bahá'ís are required to suspend work and school in observance.

Although the Persian calendar is very precise about the very moment that the astronomical new year begins, in Iran, the 24 hours period (as per "wall clock" time) in which the astronomical new year begins is treated as Norouz.

Adherents of the Fasli variant of the Zoroastrian calendar also celebrate Norouz as the first day of the New Year. Other variants of the Zoroastrian calendar celebrate the Norouz twice: once as Jamshedi Norouz on March 21st as the start of spring, and a second Norouz, in July/August (see Variations of the Zoroastrian calendar), as either new year's eve or new year's day. That the second Nowruz is celebrated by some as the last day of the year (contrary to what might be expected from a term that means "new day"), may be due to the fact that in ancient Persia the day began at sunset, while in later Persian belief the day began at sunrise.

Norouz in Tajikestan
Widely celebrated in Central Asia, it is a colorful holiday in Tajikistan: pictures
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