By Homa Sabet Tavangar (originally published by Huffington Post)
I'm having a holiday sensory overload today. It's International Day of Happiness. It's the Spring Equinox. It's the New Year for Persians who have celebrated this holiday for thousands of years. And it's the last day of the Baha'i Fast, marking the New Year, or Nowruz (Persian for New Year) at sunset. I'm Persian. I'm Baha'i. And I'm all for spreading happiness. So, let's celebrate!
Nowruz is the primary holiday for Persians, and it is the only holiday celebrated by all Persians, of every religious background, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Baha'i or of no religion. It is the focal point of the year for Iranians, as well as a cultural holiday in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The closest comparison I can think of is Thanksgiving in the United States, where everyone joins in regardless of affiliation, a greater ideal unites across ideological lines and families spend quality time together. But multiply the food, festivity, family and tradition of Thanksgiving times 1,000 for a sense of Nowruz.
In the Baha'i Writings, this beginning of spring portends a spiritual promise:
...the spiritual bounty and springtime of God quicken the world of humanity with a new animus and vivification. All the virtues which have been deposited and potential in human hearts are being revealed from that Reality as flowers and blossoms from divine gardens. It is a day of joy, a time of happiness, a period of spiritual growth. I beg of God that this divine spiritual civilization may have the fullest impression and effect upon you. May you become as growing plants. May the trees of your hearts bring forth new leaves and variegated blossoms. May ideal fruits appear from them in order that the world of humanity, which has grown and developed in material civilization, may be quickened in the bringing forth of spiritual ideals.
Drawing inspiration from the Baha'i Writings, Carlos Santana, from his multi-Grammy award winning album "Supernatural" sings this in Spanish, in the song "Primavera" ("Spring"):
La tierra negra se vuelve verde
Y las montanas y el desierto
Un bello jardin
Como la semilla
Lleva nueva vida
Hay en esta primavera una nueva era
En el aire de este nuevo universo
Hoy se respira libertad
En primavera ya
Translation: The black earth becomes green; and the mountains and the desert, a beautiful garden. As the seed brings new life there's in this spring, a new era. In the air of this new universe today there is freedom in spring already. (Translation courtesy ofhttp://lyricstranslate.com.)
Just as Mexican-American Santana sings those words about Spring, inspired by the promise of a new era, and a divine springtime, the Nowruz holiday is building a growing universal appeal, as Baha'is from every nationality join the celebration following their annual period of fasting, from sunrise to sunset for 19 days. A lovely demonstration of the universal appeal of this verdant holiday is seen in this little video clip from families all over the world wishing Happy Nowruz:
So, here's to new life, new beginnings, fresh starts at the turn of the seasons, more love, more harmony and definitely more happiness. Happy Nowruz!
Homa Sabet Tavangar is the author of Growing up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World (Ballantine/Random House), the mother of three children ages 7 to 17, and a frequent speaker on global perspectives to corporations and K-12 communities. See her recent TEDx Talk. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter and visitGrowing Up Global.
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