The Jovial Celebrations of Navroz


Joining in the multi-cultural celebration for Navroz were Rita and Joseph Sleiman, Iqbal and Zeenat Mitha, Nazneen and Kershaw Khumbatta, Ashiq Poonawala, Pervez Khawar and Rubina Wahid.

Joining in the multi-cultural celebration for Navroz were Rita and Joseph Sleiman, Iqbal and Zeenat Mitha, Nazneen and Kershaw Khumbatta, Ashiq Poonawala, Pervez Khawar and Rubina Wahid.

By Zeenat Kassam Mitha –

The celebration of Navroz was jovial, colorful and continued for days in Fort Bend County as it involved the Persian, Zoroastrian and Ismaili communities, to name a few. Navroz marks the first day of spring and the birth of life. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21st. It is considered the beginning of the New Year by more than 300 million people around the world and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions.

The term Navroz first appeared in script in historical Persia in the 2nd century AD.  It was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids (c. 550–330 BCE), where kings from various countries under the Persian Empire used to give the Emperor gifts on Navroz.  The Emperor was the King of Kings (Shahanshah). The significance of Navroz in the Achaemenid Empire was such that the great Persian King Cambyses II’s appointment as the king of Babylon was permissable only after his partaking in the Navroz festival.

Navroz Table with items of significance.

Navroz Table with items of significance.

More recently in 2010, the United Nation’s General Assembly recognized the International Day of Navroz. “It has become an important day to commemorate around the world,” said Nazneen Khumbatta of the Zoroastrian Community.

Navroz is referred to as Nevruz, Newroz, Nauruz or Jamshedi Nowruz by the different religions that observe the celebration. It originated from the two Persian words, “nav” meaning “new” and “roz” meaning “day.”

To welcome the New Year, items beginning with “S” in Farsi are set on a decorative table to signify the rejuvenation of all aspects of life for the New Year:

Sabzeh – (wheat or barley sprouts  growing in a dish) symbolizes rebirth

Samanu  (sweet pudding) – made from wheat germ symbolizes affluence

Senjed  (dried oleaster fruit) – symbolizes love

Sir (garlic) – symbolizes medicine

Sib (apples) – symbolizes earth, beauty and health

Somq (sumac) – symbolizes sunrise

Serkeh (vinegar) – symbolizes patience

The Navroz table also pays tribute to the following:

Mirror represents Sky

Candles denote Fire

Golab (Rose Water) epitomizes Water

Goldfish  symbolize Animals

Painted Eggs signify Humans and

Fertility

“It is a day to rejoice, pray, eat together and share the history through dance, music and symbolic displays,” said Farnaz Nastaeen of the Iranian Community.

At the Stafford Center on March 23rd, the celebrations continued for Navroz by the Iranian Cultural Foundation. Persia, which is now Iran, holds great significance to this grand celebration. Farsi is the dominant language, and the kids in the Farsi school performed by singing and performing dances.

Zoroastrians offer thanksgiving pray-ers and exchange gifts amongst family members and friends. They share meals together as a community, and invite friends and family over to their homes for the same.

Jamshedi Navroz is how the Zoroastrian community refers to this auspicious occasion. They have named it after the legendary king of Persia, Jamshed, who introduced the solar calculation into the Zoroastrian calendar.

The Ismaili Community celebrates the birth of life through prayers and rituals which are diverse in culture, asking for blessings of good health, happiness, peace and prosperity.  Spending time with family, friends and the greater community around a setting of food, dance and music is a common thread that runs through the observances of Navroz. Faluda, which is sweet milk flavored with rose essence, is the traditional drink prepared on this day and shared with all that partake.

“We are a faith rich in diversity and our ethos is to assist humanity; therefore, Navroz is celebrated with many communities, as we make new commitments and praise God,” said Iqbal Mitha of the Ismaili Community.

To all of you, may the blessings of spring and the bountiful offerings that come with it be bestowed upon you and yours!  Navroz Mubarak (Blessings)!


To share your ideas – for upcoming cultural stories and events, contact Cultural Correspondent Zeenat Kassam Mitha at zeenat@fortbendfocus.com.