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Norouz, the (Iranians) New Year and the Haft-Sin Symbolism

Narrated by Davood Rahni

Norouz, the vernal spring equinox has been celebrated by people of Iran and Mesopotamia since antiquity. Although continuously celebrated in Iran for at least three thousand years, Norouz is currently commemorated by several hundred million diverse peoples spanning from northwest china, India and central Asian republics, IRAN, the Caucuses, Turkey and Eastern Europe, Iraq and westward to Egypt. Although Norouz, Norooz or Nowruz are the major spellings of the word as evidenced on the internet and in western literatures, and while it literally means "new day of the year" in Persian, there are, nonetheless,  as many as several dozen other spellings and thus pronunciations of the word as it is spread out across the three continents.

A symbolic illustration of Norouz is setting up a decorative table called, Haft-Sin in every home.
Haft-Sin has a rather complex history, having evolved from Haft-Shin of the Kayanids dynasty era to Haft-Chin of the Achaemenids dynasty circa and to its current Haft-Sin since the writing of Shahnameh, the Epic Poem Book of the Persian Kings by Ferdwosi of nearly 1,000 years ago. Among the evolution of Indo-European languages, it is common to note the phonetic sound, Sh, changed to Ch and then to S, in much the same way that Kh has evolved to K or H over time. 

Haft-Shin was initially comprised of (ahd, ir, arāb, ikkar-e nāb, amʿ, amād, āya", =sh ) literally meaning (honey, milk, wine, pure sugar, a candle, branches of box-tree, and fruits). Later, these were replaced with Haft-Chin, literally meaning seven natural items picked or derived form plants, denoting the germination and blossoming, albeit recycling of life in spring.  In fact, the word Haft, meaning seven, denoting the seven days of "creations" has remained the same throughout. Today the haft-Sin table includes seven items specifically starting with the letter S or Sn (س in the Persian Alphabet). The items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals protecting them. The Haft-Sin has evolved over time, but has retained its symbolism of nature. Traditionally, families attempt to set as beautiful a Haft-Sn table as they can, as it is not only of traditional and spiritual values, but also appreciated by the visitors during Norouz visiting exchanges as a reflection of their good taste. The most common Haft Sin items are:

  1. sabzeh(سبزه) wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth
  2. samanu (سمنو)- a sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence
  3. senjed (سنجد)- the dried fruit of the oleaster tree - symbolizing love
  4. sr (سیر)- garlic - symbolizing medicine
  5. sb (سیب)- apples - symbolizing beauty and health
  6. somaq (سماق)- sumac berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
  7. serkeh (سرکه)- vinegar - symbolizing age and patience

Although traditionally improper, a missing Sin is on occasion substituted with another item starting with an S. For example:

  • sonbol (سنبل)- the fragrant hyacinth flower (the coming of spring)
  • sekkeh (سکه)- coins (prosperity and wealth)

Other non-S items of historical, cultural or national patriotic significance on the table display may include:

  • traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava (باقلوا), toot (mulberry) (توت), naan-nokhodchi (chik-peas)(نان نخودچی)
  • dried nuts and fruits, berries and raisins, called "Aajeel" (آجیل)
  • lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
  • a mirror (self reflection and introspection)
  • decorated eggs, one for each member of the family (fertility)
  • a bowl with goldfish (life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
  • a crystal bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
  • rose water for its magical cleansing powers
  • the national colours, (green-white and red) for patriotic heritage
  • the Shahnameh, the Divan of Hafez, Avesta, Kahyam's Quatrain's, or the Quran

Great Many Happy Norouz of the Day!

So: Wikie in part

... Payvand News - 03/17/09 ... --

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