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Epistle of Nowruz or Nowruznameh


Attributed to Omar Khayyam Neyshabori
Translated By Roya Monajem, Tehran; Source: Tavoos Art Magazine

Omar Khayyam


Iranians knew that the sun has two major cycles. One is that it returns to the first minute of Aries after three hundred and sixty five days and a quarter of a day, but it cannot return on exactly the same day and time because the duration decreases continuously each year. When the Pishdadian King, Jamshid discovered that day, he called it Norouz and held a feast on that day. Other kings and people followed his example afterwards.

Jamshid's Throne
, Shahnameh

And the story goes that when Kiumars (Gaya Martan, Gaomareten, Keyumars, the first human the Creator made and the first king of the world) sat on the throne, he decided to give names to days and months of the year and to begin a chronology (history) for people to keep in mind. So when he saw the Sun entering the first minute of Aries on that day, he summoned the priests (mobada'n) and told them to begin history from this point. The priests, who were the wise-men of those days, gathered together and put into action his command. And they said: The Creator has made twelve archangels. He made four of them to watch the heavens so that the heavens and whatever they contain would be safe of devils (ahriman-s). He made another four archangels to watch the four corners of the world to stop devils passing over the Qa'f Mountain. 1 They watch over the world to keep devils away from people. And it is said the inside of this world is like a new home in an old house, and the creator made the sun out of light and nurtured heavens and the earths with it and the whole world look up into it with respect and surrender, as it is a divine light and the Creator's interest in it exceeded others.

And it is said that it is like a great king pointing to one of his ministers demanding to revere him more than others and admire his art in the sense that whoever venerates him would be in fact venerating his king.

And it is said: When the Creator ordered permanence to end so that the solar radiation and benefits would reach everything, the sun left the zero point of Aries and the heaven began to revolve it, and darkness was separated from light, giving rise to night and day. This was the beginning of history of this world. Then after one thousand four hundred and sixty one years the sun reached Aries exactly on the same day and time and during this time Urmazd and Saturn will be in conjunction seventy three times. This is called the small conjunction and it will happen every 20 years and when the sun completes its cycle and reaches this place, Mars and Saturn will be in conjunction in Aries which is ruled by Mars. In this way the place of planets were determined. When the sun began to revolve from the beginning of Aries with Mars and Saturn being there together with other planets, by the command of the Creator the state of universe changed, new things appeared. When they discovered this date and time, in order to venerate the sun, the Iranian kings marked this day and held a feast because they knew not everybody could find this day and informed the world so that everybody would know and remember that date.

And it is said: When Kiumars marked this day as the beginning of history and divided each solar year (taking three hundred and sixty five days) into twelve parts and called them by the names of those twelve angels which the Creator made to watch over the universe, and he then divided each part into 30 days. He then called the greater cycle which takes three hundred and sixty five days and a quarter of a day as the great year and divided it into four parts. When these four parts of the year are over it is the time of the great Norouz and renewal of the world. And it is the duty of the kings to carry out their kingly obligation for the purpose of vivacity and auspiciousness of the history and those who celebrates Norouz and rejoice will live in joy and exuberance until the next Norouz.

This is the lesson the wise-men left the kings.

The Ancient Royal Ritual of Norouz
One of the ancient rituals beginning from the time of Kaykhosrow Kiani (the founder of second Iranian dynasty after Pishdadian) until the last Sassanid King Yazdgerd was that on the first day of Norouz, the head of priests (mobad mobada'n) was first to visit the king holding a cup of wine, with a ring and coins, a bunch of fresh newly germinated green foliage, a sword, an arch, a pen and ink-holder, a horse, a royal falcon, and a pleasant looking servant. He would cherish the king and worship the creator and would say:

Your Highness:
During the feast of Farvardin in the month of Farvardin, choose freedom.
May Soroush (Gabriel) bring you wisdom, insight and competence.
May you live long with dignity.
Will the will of your ancestors.
Be righteous and generous, truthful and just.
Cherish Art and Knowledge 

Persepolis, Iran 1976
Fujicolor crystal archive gloss paper, 30 x 22 in / 76 x 56 cm, Printed 2009
Paradise Lost: Persia From Above series by Swiss photographer Georg Gerster

1) Qaf is the arabicized form of the Persian word "Gap" which means "Unknown", it is interesting to know that the oldest mention of an Unknown Mountain is in an inscription of Shapur I (241-272 AD) for the mounatins between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. He has mentioned it Gapkuh ("Unknown Mountain" Gap=Unkown & Kuh=Mountain) = Arabic Qafqaz = Russian KAVKAZ = English Caucasus

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