Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Norouz in a Blog ...from China

The table of the seven Ss

Each spring I wish my Iranian friends Norouz mubarak, happy new year, the country's most important festival. They travel considerable distances to be with family and friends for the celebrations.

I knew that the festival is celebrated across all religions in the country, and is probably based on an ancient spring fertility ritual which was incorporated into the Zoroastrian faith and survived the introduction of Islam.

The festival is celebrated beyond the borders of present day Iran - blogger Raheel Lakhani of Lingo of my inner voice is in Karachi, Pakistan, and has a great post about the celebration:

Every house in Iran has a table which is decorated with seven things symbolizing different concepts regarding to the spring and New Year. All these things start with letter S, ‘Seen’ in the Persian language so this table is called ‘Haft-e-Seen’ (Seven S). When relatives and friends visit each other houses carrying gifts, they make sure that the see and enjoy the beauty of Haft-e-Seen in every house. The things may include the following as there is no consensus between which seven:
sabzeh - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish (symbolizing rebirth)?At the end of the celebrations after twelve days representing twelve zodiac signs, on the thirteen day, the sabzeh grown for the Haft Seen (which has symbolically collected all the sickness and bad luck) is thrown into running water to exorcise the demons from the household. It is also customary for young single women to tie the leaves of the Sabzeh before discarding it, so expressing a wish to be married before the next year's Seezdah Bedar (the thirteen day of Navroz)
samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ (symbolizing affluence)
senjed - the dried fruit of the jujube tree (love)
seer - garlic (medicine)
seeb - apples, (beauty and health)
somaq - sumac berries (the color of the sunrise)
serkeh - vinegar (age and patience)
sonbol - the fragrant hyacinth flower (the coming of spring)
sekkeh - coins (prosperity and wealth)

Other items on the table may include:
lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
painted eggs, perhaps one for each member of the family (fertility)
a bowl with two goldfish (life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
rose water for its magical cleansing powers
the national colors, for a patriotic touch
a holy book (e.g., the Qur'an, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bible, Torah or the Avesta) or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnama or of Hafez)

Raheel then goes on to examine the importance of Navroz in his own religion, Islam. Finally he gives us a poem by the poet Nasir Khusraw - here's its conclusion:

As long as the clouds
of Navroz wash all quarters
of the garden with
showers of lustrous pearls;
and the nightingale laments
the rose at the break of dawn,
like a grieving soul
separated from its lover:
may the authority of
the sovereign of time
prevail over space and time


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Blogger Mos and Nikou said...

Hi there,

I've been following your blog and I really find it interesting.

Btw, this Norouz, send flowers to your friends and loved ones in Iran via ParsaFlora http://parsaflora.com


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