Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Norouz (also spelled Norooz, Noruz, Nauroz, Nav-roze, Navroz, Naw-Rúz or Nowrouz and in Persian نوروز) is the traditional Iranian festival of the New Year in the Persian calendar which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. The name comes from Persian no=new + rooz=day; meaning "new day".
Norouz with its uniquely Iranian characteristics has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian religion. Today the festival of Norouz is not only celebrated in Iran, but also in many lands that historically have been within the Persian sphere of cultural influence, namely, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenia, Tajikestan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and other parts of Central Asia.
Iranians consider the Norouz as their greatest celebration of the year. Even with Islam, and the Ismaili Muslims, the festival of Norouz continues to be by far the most important celebration of the year in Iran. It has also been made an official Holy Day in the Bahá'í Faith.
When is Norouz?
Unlike many calendrical holidays, Norouz is determined by a natural event, the vernal equinox.
Norouz corresponds to the precise time of the vernal equinox, when the sun passes through the celestial equator as it traverses the ecliptic. The exact time differs every year, but it is almost always on March 20 or March 21 of the Gregorian calendar, and it is always known to an accuracy of seconds many years in advance. In 2005, Norouz was on Sunday March 20 at 12:33:00 PM GMT
The exact second the sun passes through this celestial intersection marks the start of astronomical spring, the new Persian year, and Norouz celebrations.
Preparing for Norouz starts in Esfand, the last month of winter in the Persian solar calendar. Iranians start preparing for the Norouz by doing a major spring-cleaning of their houses, buying new clothes to wear for the new year and buying lots of flowers for the Norouz (in particular the hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous).
Chahar Shanbe Soori
The last Tuesday of the year is celebrated by the Iranian people with a special series of customs including lighting fires, going to family parties, "Faal Goosh", "Ghaashogh Zani" etc. Most of the citizens go to the streets and alleys, make fires, and jump over them while singing the traditional song Zardie man az tou Sorkhie tou az man.
Serving different kinds of pastry and nuts known as Ajile Moshkel Gosha is another Chahar Shanbe Soori tradition.
The Haft Seen (In Persian: هفت سین)
A major tradition of Norouz is setting the "Haft Seen" (the seven 'S', seven items starting with letter S or "seen" (س) in Persian alphabet), which is 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 tries to set up 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 Haft Seen are seven of these, 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 book of poetry by Hafez or a holy book (the Qur'an for Muslims, the Torah or Hebrew Scriptures for Jews)
During the Norouz holidays Iranians are expected to pay house visits to one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbours) in the form of short house visits and the other side will also pay you a visit during the holidays before the 13th day of the spring. Typically, on the first day of Norouz, 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, elders are expected to give money to their younger relatives. Later in the day, on the very first day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the youngers 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. Every family announces in advance to their relatives and friends which days of the holidays are their reception days. 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 plus tea or syrup.
The thirteenth day of the New Year festival is called Sizdah Bedar (meaning "thirteen outdoors"). People go out in the nature in groups and spend all day outdoors in the nature in form of family picnics. It is a day of festivity in the nature, where children play and music and dancing is abundant. On this day, people throw their sabzeh away in the nature as a symbolic act of making the nature greener, and to dispose of the bad luck that the sprouts are said to have been collecting from the household.
- The Festival of Noe-Rooz
- What is Norouz?
- President George W. Bush's greetings on Norouz
- Norouz Research Foundation
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details