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Nowruz - Origins and Celebration in the Persian World
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Nowruz - Origins and Celebration in the Persian World


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  • 1. Nowruz: Origins and Celebration in the Persian World Professor Farima S.Mostowfi
  • 2. Origins
    • “ Nowruz” means “New Day”
    • It was the beginning of the new year in the Persian calendar
    • The holiday is said to have started 15,000 years ago, beyond the last ice age
    • It marked the transition of seasons from hunting animals to raising animals and a more settled life
    • Adapting to the seasons was very important for these ancient people to survive
  • 3. Ancient Persia
    • Around 550 BC, Cyrus began laying the foundations of the Persian Empire
    • For thousands of years, this land was tribal, dating back to Zoroaster
    • He united tribes from around modern-day Iran and had many military victories as he expanded his power
    • He founded the Achaemenid Empire
  • 4. Map of the Ancient Persian Empire
  • 5. Zoroastrianism
    • The religion of ancient Iran was Zoroastrianism
    • Ancient religion in Iran based on the teachings of Zoroaster, an ancient prophet
    • Falsely called “Fire-worshippers”
    • Good thoughts, good words, good deeds
  • 6. Nowruz in Iran
    • Since ancient times, Iran has celebrated the New Year on the vernal equinox, what we know as the 20 th or 21 st of March
    • There is a record of these celebrations on the walls of Persepolis, the capital of the ancient Persian Empire
  • 7. Persepolis
  • 8. The Lion Eating the Bull, the new year eating the old year, at Persepolis
  • 9. Persepolis
    • At Persepolis, representatives from satrapies and governorships (including Ionian Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Indians) personally brought Darius the Great gifts and explanations of them
    • This ceremony was in Apadana, a building that served as a treasury
    • Darius the Great would also give gifts
    • There would then be a celebration
  • 10. Bearing gifts for the Shah (the King) for Nowruz
  • 11. Conflict and Tradition
    • As time passed and empires grew and fell, Persia was invaded numerous times by other powers
    • Persia always tried to maintain its customs including its language, its calendar, and the Nowruz celebration
    • Nowruz has survived to today in many countries
  • 12. Calendar
    • The Persian calendar is solar and begins at the vernal equinox
    • Omar Khayyam, an astronomer who was also a famous poet, organized the calendar in 1079 AD and placed the beginning of the year at Nowruz
    • The Persian calendar has the year 0 set at the time when Muhammad went from Mecca to Medina
    • It is now the year 1388 in the Persian calendar
  • 13.  
  • 14. Nowruz in Iran
    • Nowruz is the most important holiday in Iran. It is a 14-day holiday
    • Spring cleaning- an ancient tradition marking a rebirth for the new year
    • New clothes are purchased and gifts are exchanged with family
  • 15. Nowruz in Iran- Chaharshanbe Suri
    • The first celebration is Chaharshanbe Suri
    • It is a Zoroastrian holiday on the last Wednesday of the year
    • People jump over fires as an act of purification
    • "My yellowness is yours, your redness is mine“ meaning "My paleness (pain, sickness) for you (the fire), your strength (health) for me"
  • 16. Nowruz in Iran- Chaharshanbe Suri
  • 17. Nowruz in Iran- Haji Firuz
    • The Haji Firuz was a person that would come to city to sing and dance as well as alert people to the time of Nowruz (tahvil- the exact moment)
    • They were entertainers who received donations
    • Typically dressed in a red satin outfit with a painted face as a disguise
    • He symbolizes the rebirth of the Sumerian god of sacrifice who was killed at the end of each year and reborn at the beginning of the New Year
  • 18. Nowruz in Iran- Haji Firuz
  • 19. Nowruz in Iran
    • Haft sin (Seven S’s)
    • Sumac (crushed spice of berries): For the sunrise and the spice of life
    • Senjed (sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree): For love and affection
    • Serkeh (vinegar): For patience and age
    • Seeb (apples): For health and beauty
    • Sir (garlic): For good health
    • Samanu (wheat pudding): For fertility and the sweetness of life
    • Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass): For rebirth and renewal of nature
  • 20. Nowruz in Iran
  • 21. Nowruz in Iran
  • 22. Nowruz in Iran
  • 23. Nowruz in Iran
    • Sizdah Bedar is a celebration on the 13 th day of the new year meaning (13 to out)
    • It is a day where people go outside and have picnics and socialize
    • The sabzeh (wheat grass) is thrown into the water to exorcise demons of the household
    • Young single women tie the shoots and throw them into the flowing water, wishing to be married within the year
  • 24. Nowruz in other countries
    • Other countries that were formerly part of the ancient Persian Empire also celebrate Nowruz, having maintained this tradition for thousands of years
    • It is the new year in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Tajikistan as well as Kurdistan (including parts of Iran, Iraq and Turkey)
    • It is also widely celebrated in Georgia, India, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, as well as other countries where there is an Iranian diaspora (the U.S., France, Canada, etc.)
  • 25. Nowruz in Afghanistan
    • The Taliban banned Nowruz when they were in power, but it returned in force after they were overthrown in 2001
    • “ Seven Cooked Fruits” (Haft mive) instead of “Seven S’s”
      • Raisin, Senjed (of oleaster tree), pistachio, hazelnut, dried apricot, walnut and almond or plum cooked together
    • Samanak- a sweet dish made of wheat germ
    • Two weeks of celebration
  • 26. Nowruz in Afghanistan
  • 27. Nowruz in Afghanistan “ Buzkashi” (predecessor to polo, an annual new year tournament)
  • 28. Nowruz in Afghanistan “ Buzkashi” (predecessor to polo, an annual new year tournament)
  • 29. Nowruz in Tajikistan
    • Nowruz is a beloved festival that has been celebrated by Tajiks since ancient times
    • Nowruz was outlawed when the Soviets were in control
    • It was reintroduced as a national holiday after Tajik independence in 1991
    • In Tajikistan, Nowruz starts on the first day of spring, like in Iran
  • 30. Nowruz in Tajikistan
    • Local communities usually organize musical and dance performances in their town’s parks or squares
    • Food stands and large bazaars
    • Families visit and attend the events
    • Like in Iran, it is seen as a time of renewal, good will, and good luck.
    • People often buy new clothes and give gifts to others
  • 31. Nowruz in Tajikistan “ Buzkashi”
  • 32. Nowruz in Tajikistan
  • 33. Nowruz in Tajikistan
  • 34. Nowruz in Tajikistan
  • 35. Nowruz in Tajikistan
  • 36. Nowruz in Tajikistan
  • 37. Nowruz in Tajikistan
  • 38. Nowruz in Tajikistan
  • 39. Nowruz (Newruz) in Kurdistan (Iran)
    • There is spring cleaning
    • There is jumping over fires
    • Special foods are prepared
    • Families gather and there is dancing as well as poetry reading
    • Women wear colorful clothes
  • 40. Nowruz in India
    • 2,000 families emigrated to India (named Parsi) after the Arab invasion and the arrival of Islam to Iran
    • They maintain their traditions and are mostly Zoroastrian
    • It is also celebrated on the same day as spring
    • Good wishes and greetings exchanged
  • 41. Nowruz in India
    • Five rituals
      • Afringan (prayers of love or praise)
      • Baj (prayers honoring preexistent souls
      • Yasna, offering and drinking sacred liquor (haoma)
      • Fravartigan or Farokhshi (prayers commemorating the dead)
      • Satum (prayers recited at funeral feasts)
  • 42. Thank you! Nowruz mobarak! Happy New Year (1388)!
  • 43.