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The Feast of Norouz

Research by Late Gholamreza and Vishtasb Dadbeh and Dela'gah Dadbeh
Translated By Roya Monajem, Tehran; source: Tavoos Magazine

greens and gold fish for Norouz
Tehran,Tajrish,Freshy-grown greens and gold fish for sale
Photo by Mohhamad Sadeqi Fasa'i

Based on Omar Khayyam Neyshaburi's Epistle of Norouz, the designation of Norouz is derived from the fact that every 365 days and a quarter of a day, the sun returns to the first minute of Aries (Farvardin - 21 March) or Spring equinox.

And when the King Jamshid came to know about it, he called it Jamshidi Norouz.

The feast, as its name conveys is to celebrate the new day of the first month of the year.

According to Iranians' belief, the month of Farvardin belongs to frvahars (spirits) of the departed pious and ancestors who come to earth to visit their kinsmen and women, returning afterwards to their own dwelling place. That's why the night before Norouz a fire is set for the auspicious arrival of these guests and several seven-itemed tables are set in the name of seven Amshaspand (or Archangels).

He made a throne with his kingly majesty

Adorning it with countless precious gems

By the time the sun in mid-heaven

Already seated on it was the ruling king

The whole world gathered around his throne

Amazed by the halo of his good fortune

Pouring gems at the feet of Jamshid

They named the new day, Norouz

At the start of the New year, Hormozd Farvadin

Rested the body of suffering, the heart of vengeance

On the new Norouz, the world-shining king

Sat on the throne on that triumphant day

Great men all dressed up joyfully

Demanded wine, lyre and musicians

Such an auspicious feast ever since then Has remained as a remembrance of the King

The philosophy of Norouz

The culture which created the feast of Norouz in Ancient Iran rested on the following popular outlook:

Cleaning and purifying all the apparent and hidden aspects of people, from thorough cleaning of their living environment (their houses and dwelling places) to the hidden place of the heart; in the words of Hafez

Wash yourself and then walk elegantly to the tavern

So that the ruined temple would not be blemished by you

Purity and brightness is an imperative for the beginning of the new year. Such purification and cleansing is an expression of the philosophy of Norouz for the purpose of creativity, constructivism, lordship, learning and teaching knowledge.

The target of the Norouz is to see life in the crystal ball of heaven (Ja'm-e Jamshid).

The aim is to seek spiritual philosophy.

The Way of Norouz can be identified through connection with Nature, cultivation, productive activity, joviality, prosperity and unity with the divine essence of mother earth.

Seven-itemed tables of Norouz

The Nowruz Spread
The Nowruz Spread
Photo by Mohammad Sadeqi Fasa'i

In the culture there are several different seven items set on the table, the most famous being:

1- Seven greenery: wheat, barley, pea, lentil, grass pea, and rice

Symbolizing dynamism, being, joviality, happiness and life

2- Seven fuel: wild-rue, frankincense , aloes-wood, fennel, sandal, rose water, Incense cedar

Symbolizing self-burning, group-lightening, spreading the good scent of life

3- Seven items beginning with the Iranian letter shin: wine (shara'b), candle (sham), comb (sha'neh), shawl (sha'l), sword (shamshir), blossom (shokufeh) and hemp (sha'hda'neh)

Wine symbolizes self-emptying and filling it instead with friend, the candle symbolizes brightness , comb, organization, shawl, persistence and stability, sword, battle of life and invincibility in work and war, blossom, harmony of earth and heaven, wind, water, earth and hemp symbolizes the core of human world

It should be remarked that the above symbols is not confined to items beginning with letters shin or sin, but they can be mixed in various relevant triplets.

For example, wine, wine cup and feast may go together, or the triplet comb, Cyprus, and efforts made in the direction of organization and regulation, or the triplet shawl, cedar, enthronement; sword, anvil and invincibility make the fourth triple; the fifth is candle, the special container for burning wild-rue, and impermanence, the sixth, blossom, kohl holder, the world-seeing eye, the seventh, hemp, bugle (sorna') and Gabriel (soroush)

4- Seven harvests: date, fig, berry, sour cherry, peach, apricot, raisin

5- Seven seeds or fruit: in the human-making ritual of Norouz, seven harvests of life field put into seven separate bowels are placed on the table, representing dynamism of soil and lightening of the workshop of body by virtue of these fruit bearing food products. The most common products are species of wheat, barely, bean, pea, grass pea, lentil and rice.

6- Seven signs of the beginning journey of the feast: Egg, mirror, water, earth, nut, salt and box-tree

Egg: the symbol of heavenly world and the earthly dwelling
Mirror: the symbol of stainlessness and labyrinth nature of Zurvan (Time) and the workshop of existence
Water: life-giving
Earth: headquarter and station, symbol of birth and unity
Nut: the symbol of humanity
Salt: the symbol of pact and contact with human essence
Box-tree: Eternal joy and vivacity


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