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About Nowruz

Context:

Nowruz, also spelled as Navroz, is celebrated by the ethnic Iranian population every year in various parts of the world. The Parsi community in India, which follows Zoroastrianism, celebrated Nowruz on March 21, marking the beginning of the New Year. The festival symbolises freshness, rebirth and freedom, according to the community.

Relevance:

GS I: Festivals

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Nowruz
  2. What does the festival mean according to the UNESCO?
  3. The Parsi Community in India: A Brief History and Celebration of Nawruz Festival

About Nowruz

  • Nowruz is the Iranian New Year, celebrated on the first day of Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian solar calendar, at the spring equinox, and it lasts for 12 days.
  • It is described by authors Ali Shariati as a festival of “blossoming” and “beginnings,” and SNR Rizvi and Poonam Pant as a festival of “renewal, hope, and happiness.”
  • In India, the festival is celebrated by visiting the Fire Temple, decorating houses, preparing delicacies, and performing rituals based on the movements of the sun during the day.
Origins of Nowruz
  • The origins of Nowruz are unclear.
  • According to analyst Hewa Salim Khalid, the festival has diverse cultural perceptions among Kurdish and Persian communities.
  • For Kurds, Nowruz is a symbol of resistance and a celebration of national identity. It marks the establishment of a state identity, and Kurdish people in different countries observe distinct rituals on the day to demand freedom, peace, and independence.
  • For Persians, the festival traces back to the legendary ancient ruler Jamshid, who fought against winter and shone like the sun. It is a reminder of values that bind people together with the aim of mutual understanding, unity, and peace.
  • Nowadays, the festival is a symbol of national identity and a tourism resource in both nations.

What does the festival mean according to the UNESCO?

  • The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the International Day of Nowruz in 2010. The festival had also been listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.
  • Terming it as a day which marks the “renewal of nature,” the UNESCO describes it as a festival which “promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighborliness.”

The Parsi Community in India: A Brief History and Celebration of Nawruz Festival

Brief History:
  • Parsis arrived in India in 936 AC seeking refuge under the Hindu King of Gujarat, Jadav Rana, due to religious persecution in Iran.
  • They built the first fire temple, Atash Behram, to shelter their holy fire which they had rescued from Iran, now located in Udvada, Gujarat, the heart of Parsi culture in India.
  • By the 16th century, Surat became a major trade center for the community, including weavers and artisans who facilitated business with the British.
Celebration of Nawruz Festival:
  • Navroze, celebrated across Central Asia, involves weaving ornated gateway called Toran, chalk making, and taking around the Loban (frankincense) for ritual purity.
  • The preparations begin in March with sprouting of Sabzeh (lentil, wheat, or barley) and Khane Tekani (house cleaning), followed by Kharid-i-Nowruz, or shopping for Nowruz.
  • Navroze involves a Jashan of thanksgiving in the morning, a core religious ceremony that brings all creations together with the recitation from the Yasna Text.
  • The festival marks a unique site of community cohesion as the Zoroastrian community experiences diaspora and population decline over the years.

-Source: Indian Express


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