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Feast of Sizedeh-beh-dar: symbol of equality, brother-sisterhood

Source: Tavoos Art Magazine

The last day of Norooz (Persian New Year) Holidays, thought as inauspicious because of being held on the 13 day of the month, among other things is the ritual teaching equality, brother-sisterhood and paying respect to Mother Nature.

cartoon and poem by Atefeh Madani, Ghanoon daily

According to Javad Ensafi, actor, director and researcher, in the past elders used to give coloured eggs as Norooz present (aidi) to children who then played a game with them with other children. Any child who broke others' eggs, would win them. At the end of the game, the winner would put the eggs in the middle, divide them equally based on the number of children present, and shared it with them. In this way children would learnt and practice sharing and equality.

On the 13th day of Norooz families and friends would go for a picnic together, spread a large table-cloth on the ground, with all those present putting the food each has brought on it, and share them with others, once again practicing sharing, sister-brotherhood and equality. In this way, some who might not have eaten a decent food for some time, could have a taste of it. In other words, all would learn to share and treat others as equal.

Another important ritual carried out in the past, but unfortunately forgotten was to plant a sapling. In addition to throwing their sabzeh (a dish of usually wheat grains or lentils grown for the first day of Norooz) into rivers or planted them somewhere, so that they would continue their growth.

In addition, those who did not have a tree had to plant one. Years later when going to the same spot on the same day with the family, then parents could tell their children that the tree on which you hung your swing is actually the tree that my parents planted years ago. You too have to plant one. Its valuable hidden message can be compared to today's anti-pollution slogan "Blue sky, Clean Soil."

Those who planted trees felt committed and would visit them every now and then to make sure that they haven't dried out. A few trees seen next to each other in the middle of nowhere between two cities are the remainder of the above-mentioned ritual.

According to Ensafi, another message of sizdeh-beh-dar was to announce that now the first twelve days of the New Year, symbolizing the twelve months of the year is over, we should go outdoor to pay tribute to our common Mother-Earth.

The idea of taking sizdeh-beh-dar as an inauspicious day has entered Iranian culture from the Western and Arab cultures. For Iranians not only thirteen was not ominous, but it was auspicious. There are other feasts celebrated by Zartoshti-s (Zoroastrians) on the thirteenth day of the month, with Tirgan (Feast of Water) as the most important one, held on the thirteenth day of the month of Tir (around 3 June).

In regard to knotting grass blades on the thirteenth day of Farvardin (sizdeh-deh-dar) Ensafi says: "This goes back to the simultaneous emergence of the first couple, according to ancient Iranian cosmology, mashi and mashiyaneh in the form of a rhubarb plant. Two grass blades are knotted together by teenagers (both boys and girls) in order to start thinking about marriage and a life together with the future mate and in this way get prepared for it.

... Payvand News - 04/03/17 ... --

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