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Indo Persian New year, Navreh - Nowruz

Updated: Mar 27, 2019

People all over the world are the same, unless forced, to be different.

I started out with the intent to greet my Parsee and Iranian friends on Nowruz the Farsi New Year (21st March). a 3,000 year old Zoroastrian tradition.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is almost identical to Navreh a 5075 year old Kashmiri Hindu tradition. It signals the start of Spring and the new year.

Preparation of the festivities begin with cleaning up their homes and buying new clothes.

On the eve of the new year they take a ritual bath to clean themselves up and prepare a special wheat cake and gather ingredients for the new year celebration.

In worship of the Divine that provides, nurture and protects them, Kashmiris set up the 'Thali' (metal plate) and in Persia its called 'Haft Seen'' set with specific items.

Almost identical in composition in both Iranian and Kashmiri cultures, the setting includes,

1. Apple and flowers

2. Green grass,

3. Wheat cake

4. Special kind of berry (walnuts in Kashmir)

5. Coins,

6. Garlic, (curd in Kashmir)

7. A special and sacred herb ('Somagh' in Persia and 'Wye' in Kasmir).

In Kashmir they also place a tiny pot of salt.

Kashmiris and Zoroastrians living away from their homeland also celebrate the feast of Divine Creation. Symbolising new growth, resurrection and eternal life to come.

On Nowruz the spread is blessed by the presence of either the Quran, Divan-e Hafez (poetry book of Hafez). Nowadays, a great number of Iranians prefer Shahnameh (the Epic of Kings) of Ferdowsi. Which is as an Iranian national book, more representative of Iranian identity, values and spirits, and appropriate for this ancient celebration.

In Kashmir the spread is augmented by the presentation of a Nakshetra-patri or Almanac with sacred verses read out by a learned elder or a Pandit. It indicates auspicious days and events as per the celestial bodies and their influence.

Nowruz Celebration

As the new year of Nowruz / Navreh is ushered in, people embrace one other and wish each other a happy new year. The Kashmiris bow to their elders and seek their blessings. They give presents to each other and the elders gift gold or silver coins and nowadays cash, to the younger ones.

The first few days are spent visiting older members of the family, relatives and friends. Children receive presents and sweets, special meals and in Iran Aajil or fruits are consumed.

On the night before the New Year, people enjoy a colourful traditional feast.

Iranians regard 13th day as a bad omen and believe that by going into the fields and parks they avoid misfortune.

Therefore on 'Sizdah Bedar', the 13th day of the new year is spent mostly outdoors with parks or nature indulging in festivities, picnics and play.

It is also believed that on this day unwed girls can wish for a husband by going into the fields and tying a knot between green shoots, symbolising a marital bond.

I wish all my brothers and sisters, the Kashmiris a happy Navreh and the Zoroastrians and Iranians a happy Nowruz.



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