lingo of my inner voice

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Navroz, ...and the spring arrives with all its glory and a new journey starts!

(I am glad to tell you all that Chowk has also published this article of mine so you can now read an improved version here.)

Whether you celebrate it or not,
Wishing you and your family
Navroz Mubarak and a very happy astrological new year.

If we don’t follow various calendars that exist in this world and move with time and laws of nature, 21st March is the real New Year when sun leaves the two goldfishes of Pisces, the twelfth sign of zodiac and takes all its glory to enter into the very first zodiac sign, Aries.

Navroz (Nau-roze) is a Persian word meaning ‘New Day’., It is a festival which dates back to 3000 years where the King Jamshed of Iran called Astrologers and declared 21st March as occasion of Navroz which celebrates arrival of New Year and spring. Every religion or community celebrates Spring in their own unique ways but what I find special in Navroz is its exoteric meaning and historical links, after all the meaning and reasoning behind what we do always increases the importance.

Being a national festival of Iran, the spirit and the way they carry out rituals there is worth seeing but it is not limited to Iranians and Zoroastrians but it is also an important festive day for many cultures and religions. Specifically in Iran, on 12:00 AM people burn the woods and then burry the ashes left in the earth which symbolizes there promise that today they have bid goodbye to the evil and from this new day they will try to overcome those evils and will lead a virtuous life, will do as much good as they can. On 21st March they clean their houses, take bath and wear new clothes and perfumes as they believe that what they will do on the first day will have influence on the rest of the year. But the specialty is yet to come. Every house in Iran has a table which is decorated with seven things symbolizing different concepts regarding to the spring and New Year. All these things start with letter S, ‘Seen’ in the Persian language so this table is called ‘Haft-e-Seen’ (Seven S). When relatives and friends visit each other houses carrying gifts, they make sure that the see and enjoy the beauty of Haft-e-Seen in every house. The things may include the following as there is no consensus between which seven:

sabzeh - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish (symbolizing rebirth)
At the end of the celebrations after twelve days representing twelve zodiac signs, on the thirteen 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 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(the thirteen day of Navroz).

samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ (symbolizing affluence)
senjed - the dried fruit of the jujube tree (love)
seer - garlic (medicine)
seeb - apples, (beauty and health)
somaq - sumac berries (the color 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)
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 colors, 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)

The Navroz in itself is so diversified and the respect for pluralism simply amazes me. It is celebrated in various religions like Islam, Zoroastrians, Christianity and Hinduism and in different countries like Iran, Pakistan, Central Asia, American, London and India. It is celebrated in other countries not as it is celebrated in Iran but the spirit and exoteric value can be seen everywhere but the change that you will see is that there will be no Haft Seen as in those countries it is not a national festival and during its journey in history it became part of many cultures, Navroz transformed itself into a social and self-renewal(religious) festival of these cultures or nations.

Now for my Muslim friends specially, I wanted to discuss its presence and importance in Islam. As Islam is so diverse in its nature, Navroz is not celebrated by every sect as some sects didn`t take forward this tradition with them but we can see that it existed even in the era of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). When Hazrat Salman Farsi entered into the circle Islam, Hazrat Muhammad being a keen observer and respecter of diversity, gave Navroz in the course of his life. Our Prophet also prayed for Muslims on this special day so with the entrance of Hazrat Salman Farsi Islam also got a gift of Navroz. Then the ritual also became a more important facet of Islam when the son of Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Hussain got married with SheharBano, the daughter of Iranian King.

It is believed by some that it was the day of Navroz when Hazrat Adam was bestowed with the soul. It was the day of Navroz when Hazrat Abrahim destroyed the idols. It was the day of Navroz when Hazrat Noah’s Ark got rescued. It was the day of Navroz when Hazrat Ali repeated what Hazrat Abrahim did by standing on the shoulders of Hazrat Muhammad. It was the day of Navroz when our beloved Prophet summoned his last sermon to the mankind and completed a code of life for them. It was the day when Hazrat Ali got married with Hazrat Bibi Fatima.

I want to quote an ayah from Quran which fits in this article very well:
"Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which God Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise." (2:164)

The sun rises with all its glory in the zodiac sign of Aries and as soon as its light illuminates the earth, as soon as new crop of wheat harvests, as soon as spring announces his arrival with blooming flowers and the sweet scent that fills the air, as soon as an egg gives birth to a new life in the form a chick, as soon as God bestows his guidance to the world, the new day starts. It starts with the message of new life, a new beginning to be exact. It starts with your promise of a better living, a life with a purpose and path leading to never ending self-improvement and social harmony. The lessons are uncountable, the lesson of submission to the will of God, the lesson of sweetness like sugar, the lesson of tolerance and humility like vinegar, the lesson of social harmony and care, the lesson of serving humanity, the lesson of thankfulness and seeing the positive side and the lesson of a respecting diversity and pluralism and to take it as a strength and as an asset. Though Navroz arrives at 21st March but every person gives birth to his/her own Navroz. The day when he realizes the truth, promises to follow the path of virtue and starts to implement it, a new circle starts, a new day starts, a new life like that chick starts and as there is no start and end to that egg there is no start or end of Self-improvement, Self-renewal and Spirituality, Navroz takes place in his/her own orbit.

Last but surely not the least, I would like to share a wonderful poem by Nasir Khusraw with you:

The soul of the universe
is the sovereign of time,
for God has raised up
the body through the soul.
When the auspicious Jupiter
saw his face, it became
the source of munificence,
the mine of good fortune.
As long as the clouds
of Navroz wash all quarters
of the garden with
showers of lustrous pearls;
and the nightingale laments
the rose at the break of dawn,
like a grieving soul
separated from its lover:
may the authority of
the sovereign of time
prevail over space and time
and the denizens of the world!

I hope you enjoyed this article and I hope that you will implement the essence of Navroz in your lives whether you celebrate it or not because its message in universal in nature.

Related Links:

  • 21.03, a poem on Navroz by yours truly :)

  • (If you are not a deviantart member then feel free to comment on my poetry here on the blog)

  • A short story - A fish and its pair , a piece from Iranian Literature

  • Wikipedia

  • Scented Words posted by Raheel Lakhani :: 3:03 PM :: 6 Comments:

    Post / Read Comments