For most Parsis, it was a day off from work. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t busy. They had lined up many things for their most important festival, Navroze. And it’s not just the Parsis (Irani Zoroastrians), who celebrate this festival; all those in the city who trace their origins to today’s Iran, celebrated it with pomp on Friday.
More of a cultural festival than a religious one, Navroze is celebrated by Parsis and some sections of Muslims. A large number of Shiah Muslims, including Ismailis, who follow the Aga Khan, celebrate it. The UN had declared March 21 the International Day of Navroze.
On the day, Parsis also remember Jamshed Padshah, the first king in Persia who celebrated the festival as the new day of the spring season. And hence they also call it Jamshedi Navroze.
It’s commonly celebrated for the abundance and happiness the advent of spring brings. It falls on the March equinox. At this time the sun is directly over the equator and north and south poles lie along the solar terminator, and sunlight is evenly divided between the north and south hemispheres.
“This year the time when the sun was equidistant was around 10.27pm (IST) on Thursday. It’s the time we gather around a table with plentiful food,” said Zubin Kavarana, resident of Thakurdwar.
Among Shiah Muslims, all family members are expected to be present at the table at that time. “On the table we keep the Quran, garlic, sugar, Persian sweets, vinegar, Easter eggs, fish and fruits that symbolize good health and wealth. The family is expected to gather at home and pray so that the year goes well,” said Ali Namazi, trustee, Masjid-e-Iranian or the Mughal Masjid.
Shiahs celebrate the festival for 13 days. Ismailis distribute dry fruits, nuts and grains among themselves on the day. Parsis prepare and consume a number of delicacies before taking the afternoon nap.
“Dhandal patio, gravy item of mutton, chicken, fish, pulav and falooda are some of the items we prepare on the day,” said Sillu Sanjan, resident of Tardeo. They also visit the Fire Temple.
“Mostly we take a nap in the afternoon, meet relatives and try to go to watch a play where most Parsis come. That way we get to meet others other,” added Sanjan.