Brief history of Nowruz

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Brief history of Noruz
TEHRAN, March 13 (MNA) — It is not exactly known when and how the festival of Noruz emerged. Some historians believe that natural changes in weathers gave rise to the festivities. Some consider it a national festival, while others regard it as a religious ritual.
According to Zoroastrians, the month of Farvardin (the first month of the Iranian solar calendar) refers to Faravashis, or spirits, which return to the material world during the last 10 days of the year. Thus, they honor the 10-day period in order to appease the spirits of their deceased ancestors. The Iranian tradition of visiting cemeteries on the last Thursday of the year may have originated from this belief.

According to lexicographer Mirza Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, ancient Iranians celebrated a feast called Farvardegan (Farvardyan) that lasted 10 days. Farvardegan was performed at the end of the year and was apparently a mourning ceremony and not a celebration welcoming the rebirth of nature. In ancient times the feast started on the first day of Farvardin (March 21) but it is unclear how long it did last. In royal courts, the festivities continued for one month.

The festival, according to some documents, was observed until the fifth of Farvardin, and then the special celebrations followed until the end of the month. Possibly, in the first five days, the festivities were of a public and national nature, while during the rest of the month it assumed a private and royal character.

Undoubtedly, the Noruz celebrations are an ancient, national Iranian custom, but details of it prior to the Achaemenid era are unknown. There is no mention of it in Avesta ­- the holy book of Zoroastrians.

In the ancient times, Iran was the cradle of civilizations for thousands of years and regarded as one of the most powerful countries in the world. As time passed, the Empire of Persia disintegrated gradually due to the invasions by the enemies of this land.

As a matter of fact, many glorious cultural, historical, festivals and customs have faded away and only traces of them have remained and several centuries of our homeland history is still in a “state of oblivion, darkness and ambiguity.”

Even until the 19th and 20th centuries, no one knew the spoken languages of ancient Persia as some parts was revealed by foreign Iranologists and linguists who shed light on these uncertainties, but it is not enough and more studies are required.

There is not sufficient information in the history about the great Persian personalities and renowned figures and their traditions and customs. Every now and then and specially when some celebrations took place, the name of them like Noruz and Mehregan festivals in Persian literature have been mentioned. But reliable sources do not confirm them to the extent that even the written documents are not reliable in this particular condition.

Currently, after several thousands of years, Iranians and the people of nine other countries enthusiastically celebrate the Noruz festival, irrespective of their age, language, gender, race, nationality or social status as this festivity knows no boundary.

Noruz in Persian literature

At its core, the Noruz festival celebrates the rebirth of nature. This reawakening symbolizes the triumph of good over the evil forces of darkness, which are represented by winter. Even in both classical and modern Persian literature this transformation to great extent associated with the same connotations.

Noruz is the point when the oppressive presence of the cold winter finally begins to recede with the commencement of the lively and hopeful spring.

This symbolic and romantic change has extensively been expressed in invaluable works of both contemporary and classical Persian poets and writers, which in recent decades have been widely translated into other languages as well.

Persian poems have also been composed which were later performed as songs by great singers from the legendary singer Barbad from the reign of Sassanid King Khosrow Parviz to prominent contemporary classical singers.

Some verses of these poems have even been turned into proverbs by the common people that are used widely in daily conversation.

Photo: An Achaemenid soldier carries a fishbowl and sabzeh (green sprouted seeds), two symbols of Noruz, in a watercolor painting by Ali-Akbar Sadeqi.

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