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Noruz in Iran: Customs and Traditions

Tehran, March 19, IRNA -- Noruz, a festival marking start of the new Iranian year, is celebrated in Iran. Passage of time has not reduced importance of the traditional festival and it is being observed by people more gloriously each year than the previous year.

Noruz rites start in the northwestern Iranian city of Orumiyeh West Azarbaijan) alike other parts of Iran before commencement of the new year.

A month before Noruz, housewives start dusting and cleaning every part of their houses, dusting furniture and washing carpets.

The practice represents renewal and refreshment.

The house should be brushed off any dirt, because ancient Iranians held that the soul of their departed family members frequented their home on the eve of Noruz.

Chaharshanbe-Soori (Fire Festival) is one of the ceremonies held prior to advent of the new year.

Chaharshanbeh Soori is an old Iranian tradition, coming on the last Tuesday night of the old year.

On the occasion, people rejoice themselves by visiting friends, especially those losing their beloved ones in the previous year.

The Chaharshanbeh Soori ceremony is observed by kindling fires in the alleys at nightfall.

The mirthful people in groups make buns of fire as token of removing every filth and dirt from the face of mother nature and make every thing clean and pure.

On the last Tuesday of the year the youth and young adults go to the roof tops and ask owners of the buildings to give them gifts.

The tradition is called by regional inhabitants as `Shal Astama'.

In the past, the yong boys fall in love of a girl, went to the rooftop of their beloved's residence and asked her family to give them bonus and gifts.

In Chahrshanbe Soori the people leap over bonfires, prepare special nuts, cook special dishes and offer each other gifts.

The day after the festival, regional inhabitants go to springs and fill jars full of water and drink it along with their breakfast the next day.

Before approach of the new year, the people also buy new clothes, nuts and grow Sabzeh (Sabzeh or growing the seedlings of cereals is a tradition practiced on the eve of Noruz, having its roots in ancient Iranian customs.)

Iranians used to march 12 mud-brick columns around their royal courtyards in which they planted a particular kind of seed, comprising wheat, barley rice, bean, broad bean, lentil millet, chick pea, sesame, mongo and mazie.

Every year, during the harvest, on the 6th of Farvardin (March 27), people used to sing and play musical instruments.

Iranian families came together around the courtyard and rejoiced during the harvest.

The number of mud columns represent the 12 month of the year.

The columns are preserved until the 16th of Farvardin when the whole family will assess the growth of the seeds.

The tallest seed is chosen as the year's plant for cultivation.

Growing Sabzeh in homes for the Noruz has its own process and is the work of housewives.

At least 10 days prior to the Noruz, a housewife takes handfuls of seeds, the number of which depends on the number of members of the family, and wishes them health, happiness and prosperity as she places them in a clay pot full of water until they germinate and turn white.

Then the housewife spreads them in a clay pot full of water until they sprout.

She then transfers the seedlings on a copper plate and covers them with a piece of cloth sprayed with water.

When Sabzeh turns green the housewife decorates them with a red ribbon.

The people also set `Haftseen' table clothe.

With the approach of the new year, Iranians get their tables ready with seven articles that symbolize the triumph of good over evil.

The tradition traces to the antiquity but is still practiced widely.

The seven articles comprise vinegar (Serkeh), apple (Seeb), garlic (Seer), wild olive (Senjed), sumac (Somaq), juice of germinating wheat or malt mixed with flour and brought to a consistency (Samanu), and a dish of specially raised wheat or other seeds (Sabzeh) all beginning with the Persian /S/ sound.

Number seven has been regarded as magical by Iranians since ancient times and has reference to the highest angles.

Muslims place holy Quran and Zoroastrians put the Avesta on their New Year table to implore God's blessings.

A jar of water is sometime added, symbolizing the purity and freshness, along with bread which is a traditional symbol of sustainer of life.

It is common to put fresh milk, cheese, fruits and dates on the table.

Wild olive and apples are symbols of love and pomegranates as fruits venerated by Iranians.

Coins are used to symbolize prosperity and spherical sour oranges representing the earth.

With the commencement of the New year, all members of the family wear their clean and new dress and gather around the Haftseen table of Noruz.

The family members then pray for their prosperity by the word of `O Reformer of hearts and minds, Director of day and night and transformer of conditions, change ours to best in accordance with your will."

When the new year is announced from radio or television, members of the family hug each others, offer sweets to each other and congratulated the New Year and wish each other a year full of prosperity and success better than the previous year.

Then the eldest member of the family (usually the father) presents the Eidi (new year gift) to the others.

Eidi is usually new and unused notes that have been put between the pages of the Holy Book.

Visiting relatives during Noruz is among other customs practiced.

Turkish astrologers maintain that the Zodiac consists of a 12-year cycle, each year of which is named after an animal.

They predict characteristics of each year's events according to the characteristics of the animal the year is called after.

The elderly in Azarbaijan have firm belief in the issue.

They take each year as a symbol of clashes, friendships, detente, rainfall, drought, fertility, price hikes, breach of friendship bonds, and firm friendship bonds.

The people do not forget the departed members of the family during Noruz and go to their tombs. They even go to homes of those who lost their beloved ones in the past year.

They call the new year festival for the bereaved families as `Qara Bayram' (Black Feast).

The bereaved families do not buy new clothes, nuts or some some other necessary items on the occasion of the new year.

Sizdeh Bedar is climax of Noruz celebrations for the regional inhabitants.

On Sizdeh Bedar (Farvardin 13th), the people go outdoors to offset the sinister number 13.

On this day, people rejoice themselves in meadows, woods, and plains; and unmarried girls pray to enter the next year with their ideal husband.

Earlier, people also used to break plates and cups.

This luxurious customs was exercised in the hope of becoming affluent.

Nowadays, the practice has been abolished.

On Sizdeh-Bedar people use to eat Ashe-Reshteh (a kind of Iranian traditional soup) and other dishes mostly made of herbs.

Among the games played by children and adults on this special day are hide and seek and tag and tip-cat.

Throughout the day the region is resounded to the sound of fire cracks, thrown with heedless abandon by groups of young people and children.

People from all walks of life, women, men, the elderly and children observe Noruz rites in the holy city of Mashhad (Khorasan Province).

They grow sprouts, dye eggs, ornament their houses, visit each other and congratulate each other on advent of the new year.

People in this northeastern province give gifts to each other.

Several weeks prior to Noruz people buy clothes, dust and clean houses, and cook Samanoo (a dish of specially raised wheat or other seed sprout).

People of Khorasan Province flicker to the lights of countless bonfires, marking Chaharshanbeh Soori (Fire Festival), in a heady explosion of joy and freedom on Tuesday night.

They light fires in the streets.

Small children chatter away in their excitement as they watch the Hajifiruzes, a kind of Iranian Santa Claus, with their black faces and drums. Mir-e-Noruz, Atash Afruz and Haji Firuz, are the ones by which the heralds of Noruz were called in ancient times.

Haji Firouz has been more long-lasting than other two new year announcements.

According to Iranian tradition, Haji Firouz refers to a man, or two, in red apparel, singing songs by playing their tambourine in big or small cities on the eve of Spring.

By doing so, they announced the glad tidings of the arrival of spring.

It is said that the persons symbolize the changed form an old custom in Azerbaijan, called ``Chishdon Chikhdim''.

Under this practice, Haji Firouz sings in the streets of the city and informs people of the arrival of spring and departure of winter.

In return for the good news, people give them gifts.

People of Mashhad set Haftseen tablecloth, give Eidis (gifts; usually money) and Sizdebedar.

The people flock to parks and orchards for picnics to celebrate `Sizde Bedar', the last day of the new year holidays.

It is believed to be bad luck to stay indoors on the day.

The greenspaces are packed with families who spread rugs on the grass and people sip teas and munch nuts.

An elaborate lunch is part of the celebrations.

Several customs are observed on Sizdeh Bedar.

People throw outdoors trays of sprouted seeds that have been on their noruz tables.

Traditionally, the young make a wish and tie blades of grass together.

People hope to put their failures behind them and start the new year with prosperity.

People of Maraghe (East Azarbaijan Province) start dusting houses one month before Noruz.

Housewives wash carpets and blankets as well as house appliances.

The practice goes on until one week to the approach of the new year.

People also buy new clothes and some other items, including sweets for the Noruz.

Some people themselves prepare sweets and cookies on the occasion at home.

Basoloq and Lowz are among the sweets prepared by the people.

Upon commencement of the new year, people wear new clothes and go to visit the elderly.

The oldest member of the family also gives the visitors coins and new notes as gifts.

The new year table clothe also is stretched at all houses.

People of Maraghe also cook special dishes, including Reshte Polo and Khoresht Sabzi, on eve of the new year.

It is a custom among the people not to stay indoors and purchase grooms, salt, mirrors and matches on the day of Chahrshanbeh-Soori, which falls on the last Tuesday of the year.

The peddlers earn too much on the day.

People, specially young girls and boys, leap over bonfires lit at every corner of the city.

On the last Thursday of the old year, people go to cemeteries and attend tombs of their dead dear ones.

People visit each other from Chaharshanbe Soori, the last Tuesday of the old year, to Sizdehbedar, the ending year of Noruz vacations.

On Sizdeh-Bedar they go to green areas and fun themselves.

People of in northern city of Sari (Mazandaran Province) observe the new year rites by house dusting, lighting bonfires on the occasion of Chahrshanbeh Soori, dying eggs and setting Haftseen table clothes.

They sing special songs on the eve of the New Year.

Bridegrooms give gifts to brides on the occasion.

People also observe a ceremony called ``Madami'.

One of the members of the family takes a Quran and gets out of house and again comes in after advent of the New Year and starts moving in every direction of the house while holding the holy book.

They also go to outdoors on the day of Sizdehbedar to mark the occasion.

About one month left to the new year, housewives in Bandar Anzali (Gilan Province) clean houses and wash curtains and blankets.

They sprout seeds and cook special sweets and cookies.

Several days to approach of the new year, well wishers go to streets and sing songs for the people.

Regional citizens give gifts, usually eggs, honey, poultry, walnuts and so on the well wishers as a thanks giving.

People call on bereaved families prior to the advent of the new year and visit tombs of the departed members of their families.

The grand mothers and fathers were provided with new and precious clothes. Torshi Tareh, Sabzi Polo and Fesenjan are the dishes usually made by people on the occasion of Noruz.

The Haftseen table clothe contains Quran, mirror, rose water, red fish, colorful eggs, apples, new coins, candies, raisins, and special sweets as well as seven objects whose names start with /S/ sound, including apples (Seeb), vinegar (Serkeh), sumac (Somaq), sprouted seeds (Sabzeh), wild olives (Senjed), special meal prepared by malt and flour (Samanoo) and garlic (Seer).

During the period, children are given such gifts as colorful eggs, coins, notes and sweets.

On Sizdeh Bedar people flock to parks and orchards for recreation.

... Payvand News - 03/19/08 ... --

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