By Jalal Jonroy, New York
Norouz, Noroz, Nowruz, Nowrooz, Nouroz, Nuroz, Newroz, Norooz...
In Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare wrote these lines for Juliet who smitten by love at first sight ponders the name of her Romeo:
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet..."
So, Norooz by any other name...
In English, there is only one standard way of saying Happy New Year. In French, Bonne Annee, etc. Should Iranians use one standard spelling? If so, which?
Every year I receive many Norooz greetings. Almost each uses a different spelling.
I just received a beautiful card invite from New York Mayor's Office to a "Nowruz" breakfast celebration at 8:00 AM March 25 at the majestic Gracie Mansion overlooking the East River. This odd Nowruz spelling was also used by the White House Haft Sin Press Release.
The Deputy Commissioner for NY Mayor's Immigration used to be an Iranian. Nowruz has been on NYC calendar as an official New Year now for a few years. (Is New York the first city? LA, SF, Irvine, Washington DC, Atlanta... should follow suit soon?) Currently, NYC Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner is also an Iranian woman. (Move over Bushs and Obamas, at this rate, within a few decades, the U.S. President, could well be a Darius Irani a la Google's pioneer billionaire Omid Kordestani!) In previous 3 years, the 'Nowruz' celebration used to be in the evening. Now, it seems a shrinking budget may have reduced the fest to cream and bagels to whoever is daft enough to be up for a Norooz fest at that ungodly early hour!
Norooz or NewRoz in Persian and Kurdish means both 'New Sun' and 'New Day'- the rebirth of spring on the equinox, usually on or about March 21. Newroz is the pre-biblical New Year revered and celebrated by Zoroastrians, the ancient peoples of Kurdistan, and the Persian-speaking peoples of Iran, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, and eastern states of ex-Soviet Union, and parts of India and Kashmir. It is a non-religious New Year celebration celebrated by all, including Muslims, Jews, Bahais, Yazidis, Christians, Assyrians,... (See Foot Note 1)
Newroz symbolizes freedom from tyranny, the triumph of light over darkness. It predates all New Year and Religious festivals in the Middle East and Europe. A new year/new spring celebration is mentioned as early as 3000 years B.C. in the Mesopotamian myths of King Gilgamesh era.
In English, there is only one standard way of saying Happy New Year. In French, Bonne Annee, etc. Why do Iranians have so many spellings?
OK, we know Iranians tend to be individualistic and relish variety. But could most of us agree on a standard phrase and spelling of the whole greeting and then say it however, we wish? That would certainly be less confusing to the world press and media who are gradually learning about our ancient New Year.
How about adopting this logical Norooz spelling of Babek and 7Rooz? I noticed this is also used in Lale' Welsh's Beyond Persia's recent greeting: 'Norooz Pirooz va har rooz Norooz!'
Jazne Norooz Pirooz? And, perhaps Sale No Pirooz? Then we can all use and propagate this standard spelling for use at least for Iranians in the future? (Afghanis seem to prefer Nowrooz- that is fine. It is similar to different spellings of Bonne Annee by the Latin nations- French, Italian, Spanish, etc.)
In addition to the ten millions Kurds of Iran, about 30 more million Kurds divided and dominated by Turkey, Iraq and Syria, also passionately celebrate Newroz.
Newroz has its roots in pre-Islam Zoroastrian religion whose prophet and temples were born in the mountains of Kurdistan. In addition to its celebratory and human values, Kurds, repressed for decades by Arabs and Turks, celebrate Newroz with extra fervor- with fires, exuberant music and dancing in colorful costumes, as a national symbol against racist Turkish and Arab oppressors.
Barzani slams Syria's killing 3 Kurds for celebrating Newroz! PRESS TV, Iran
Newroz was banned until recently in Turkey. It is still not an official holiday in Turkey or Syria. Nor was it official for most of Iraq's history. Turkey insists that March 21 is just a Turkish New Spring Day. A Newroz celebration with colorful Kurdish dancing to non-Turkish music is a 'separatist/terrorist' activity and therefore banned. (Turkey also prosecuted some Kurds for using the letter 'W' in Newroz stating foreign W does not exist in Turkish- the only legal language in Turkey.) Similarly, Syria and most Arab governments feel only legal Arabic and Islamic festivals should be celebrated. How racist is that? (See Foot Note 2.)
Years ago, Kurds from each part of Kurdistan in Diaspora also used different spellings for Newroz. Then I circulated a piece in which I reasoned that Norooz comes from two pure Persian and Kurdish words: No or Nu meaning New; and Rooz or Roz, meaning Sun or Day. (Just as Iranian Brader and Dokhtor became Brother and Daughter, so No or Nu became English New and French Nouveau, and Latin Nu,...etc..)
So why not standardize on the simple spelling in English to Newroz, meaning NewSun, NewDay? I reminded Persian and Kurdish friends that since our precious Newroz is over 3000 years old, we should abandon Arabic and Islamic words of Ed and Mobarak.
It is high time that we replaced most, if not all, Persian and Kurdish corruptions of Arabic and Turkish words, with Iranian words.
Sure, some foreign words and phrases are unavoidable and can be enriching to any language. But about 50% of Arabic mixing in today's Persian due to 'politically-correct' Islam's invasion, it becomes a corruption! Instead of Edit Mobarak, how about using our lovely, ancient, musical greeting of Jazne Piroz?
Now from Kermanshah to Sidney to Stockholm to London to San Diego, most Kurds simply say, Jazne Newroz Piroz. Note how the NewRoz and PiRoz rhyme and dance with each other. If some wish to use the literal word Year then the Persian and Kurdish word for Year is Sal as in the Kurdish Newroz song, "Am Rozy Sale taza (no or new) Newroz Hata Wa; Jazne Kee Kony Korda Ba Khosy o Hatawa.)
1. A new year/new spring celebration is mentioned as early as 3000 years B.C. in the Mesopotamian myths of King Gilgamesh era. More at The Legend of NEWROZ.
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