Come and celebrate Norouz with us...
Nouroz ( Nowruz) markes the begging of new year in countries like Iran( Persia), Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan. Nouroz is not confined to the traditions of only one religious group. It symbolizes that continuity of the ancient Persian culture which has survived so many adversities and vicissitudes.
In harmony with the rebirth of nature, Nowruz always begins on the first day of spring in northern hemisphere, marked by vernal equinox, or Tahvil. On that day -which may occur on March 20 – 21 or 22 – the sun crosses the celestial equator.
As far back as records go, Nowruz has been, either in fact or by intention, a celebration of early spring, when the sun begins to regain strength and overcome winter’s cold and darkness and when there is a renewal of growth and vigor in nature. Zoroastar’s people were demonstrably animatists, that is, they apprehended a cognitive spirit, mainyu, in all things, tangible or intangible. So for them this return of spring would have represented an annual victory for the spirit of the sun; and Zoroaster saw in it also, it appears, the symbol of a still more glorious victory to come. This was the special hope which he offered his followers, that the present struggle between good and evil, on all planes, physical, moral and spiritual, will end in total victory for the good.
A few days prior to the New Year, a special cover is spread on to the Persian carpet or on a table in every Persian household. This ceremonial table is called cloth of seven dishes, (each one beginning with the Persian letter Sin). The number seven has been sacred in Persia since the ancient times, and the seven dishes stand for the seven angelic heralds of life-rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty. The symbolic dishes consist of:
1. Sabzeh or sprouts: Usually wheat or lentil representing rebirth.
2. Samanu is a pudding in which common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding and represents the ultimate sophistication of Persian cooking.
3. Seeb means apple and represents health and beauty.
4. Senjed the sweet, dry fruit of the Lotus tree, represents love. It has been said that when lotus tree is in full bloom, its fragrance and fruit make people fall in love and become oblivious to all else.
5. Seer which is garlic in Persian, represents medicine.
6. Somaq sumac berries, represent the color of sunrise; with the appearance of the sun Good conquers Evil.
7. Serkeh or vinegar, represents age and patience.
To reconfirm all hopes and wishes expressed by the traditional foods, other elements and symbols are also on the sofreh):
• A few coins placed on the sofreh represent prosperity and wealth.
• A basket of painted eggs represents fertility.
• A Seville orange floating in a bowl of water represents the earth floating in space.
• A goldfish in a bowl represents life and the end of astral year-picas.
• A flask of rose water known for its magical cleansing power, is also included on the tablecloth.
• Nearby is a brazier for burning wild rue, a sacred herb whose smoldering fumes ward off evil spirits.
• A pot of flowering hyacinth or narcissus is also set on the sofreh.
• A mirror which represents the images and reflections of creation as we celebrate a new the ancient Persian traditions and beliefs that creation took place on the first day of spring.
• On either side of the mirror are two candlesticks holding a flickering candle for each child in the family. The candles represent enlightenment and happiness.