Editorials News | Nov-19-2023
If literary translated, Nowruz means ‘New Day’ in Persian. It is also an important festival in Iran. Apart from Iran, it is celebrated in many other countries across the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, the Balkans, and East Africa, going back at least 3000 years. Due to regional disparities, the holidays have changed over the years with different regions preserving different traditions, as well as adding new elements to them. But wherever and however it is observed, it celebrates the message of rebirth and renewal.
Nowruz is celebrated in the spring when the day and the night are equal also known as the spring equinox. It also marks the day when winter ends and spring begins in the northern hemisphere. In Iran, it is celebrated as a four-day public holiday with educational institutes being shut for two weeks.
People start preparing for Nowruz weeks before. They clean their homes from top to bottom and anything that is broken is repaired or replaced and the house is decorated with flowers. As a tradition, everyone in the family helps out. By doing this people wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year. It also works as spring cleaning.
A special table is prepared with seven small dishes holding seven symbolic foods and spices. The table is called the 'seven s's' (haft-seen) and all the elements start with the letter S.
The dishes generally are -
1. Sprouts (sabze)
2. Vinegar (serke)
3. Apples (sib)
4. Garlic (sir)
5. A wheat-based pudding (samanu)
6. A red spice (suma)
7. A kind of wild olive (senjed).
Other symbolic elements can include goldfish, painted eggs, candles, and a mirror pending in different regions. The sevens represent life, love, health, and prosperity.
The element of fire forms an important part of the celebrations, and bonfires are built and lit on the streets for four Tuesdays in the weeks approaching Nowruz. On the last Tuesday leading up to Nowruz, people observe the Festival of Fire - Chaharshanbe Suri. This festival involves jumping over these fires, which is said to bring health and good luck in the new year.
Traditionally Iranians spend the night of Nowruz with their family. A typical meal for these festivities is white fish with rice and herbs. Many families also give money as a gift (called eidi) to the children. People often visit each other's homes and as a norm don’t show up empty-handed.
People can also be seen celebrating on the streets with traditional poetry, songs, and dance. People fill the streets to watch and take part in the performances. On the last day of the festivities, people traditionally spend the day picnicking outside eating, dancing, singing, and enjoying the day.
By: Deeksha Goyal
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