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Nowruz - New Year of the Persians

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Nowruz - New Year of the Persians

Nowruz (or Nawruz, Navruz) is the Persian new year, means ‘New Day’. Nowruz marks the first day of spring or Equinox as and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and families gather together to observe the rituals.

Nowruz is celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths. It originated in Persia in one of the capitals of the Achaemenid empire in Persis (Fars) in Iran and is also celebrated by the cultural region that came under Iranian influence or had migrations by Persians including Azerbaijan, the North Caucasus, Kurdish inhabited regions of eastern Turkey and Northern Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and other scattered populations in Central Asia.

Political obstacles

During the centuries celebration of Navruz encountered with many political obstacles and social problems but in spite of the hard situations it gathered people from various classes and social statuses around the table of festival and accorded to the peace and forgiving the offence of each other.

The history knows that Navruz was many times under pressure of conquerors, but having concepts of the peace and nature rebirth, it not only was kept but also was entered to cultures of conquerors. The last politics that ignored the Navruz and considered it as a conservative religious celebration was the ideology of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Government fearing of the increasing national identities among the multi-national republics, had spent many efforts for changing and/or exterminating the traditional values like alphabets, languages and religions; at same time also restricted celebrating of certain national festivals and celebrations.

Celebration of Nowruz in Tajikistan

In the late of 1980’s Navruz celebration was recognized by the Government of Tajikistan and 21st of March was declared as a Navruz holyday. At last, after the Independence of Tajikistan in September 9, 1991 Navruz gained national status and is celebrating with all of its rituals and customs in the territory of country. Now in Tajikistan people have 4 days’ vacation for Navruz festival and gradually increases it’s magnificent and splendor.

In February 23, 2010 the General Assembly of UN in the sixty-fourth session adopted the Resolution on International Day of Nowruz and declared the 21 March as the International Day of Nowruz.

Navruz also was included in the Representative List of UNESCO as an element of intangible cultural heritage by 12 countries, including Tajikistan.

Nowruz rituals and customs of the tajik people

Recognizing Navruz as the national and traditional festival, Tajik people revived many rituals and customs related to Navruz. Alongside to them were organized some new festival competitions like exhibition of the traditional dishes, national costume show and Miss Navruz. Below we shortly describe the some rituals and customs most of which are performed in last years.

Khonaburoron (Clening rooms). One or two weeks before the Navruz women and their daughters sweep and clean the rooms, spray the perfumes, wash the curtains and mattress’ etc. They also clean the kitchens and yards, wash the tea pots, bowls, plates and kettles. Before the Navruz everything must be clean as new. A new year is coming and the house must be symbolically purified.

Gulgardoni (bringing new flowers). One of the first customs of the Navruz performed by children and adult is Gulgardoni. This custom is also called as Boychechak ("Snowdrop") in Khujand, Sayri guli lola (“Tulip festival”) in Isfara, Idi guli surkh (“”Red flower festival”) in Istaravshan, Panjakent, Guli Siyohgush or Seyovush (the flower of Seyavosh or Flower with black ears) in the South districts of Tajikistan. The ceremony of informing the coming spring consists of the following: a groups of children and adult go the hills and pick some flowers like snowdrops, irises, tulips and pass the houses of the inhabitants of the rural village and sing the special congratulatory songs.

Traditional Navruz dishes also are prepared with different grains and herbs symbolizing the fruitful nature and healthy food. In the Hisar district during spring celebration in many houses, women cook gandumkucha contained of ground wheat, beans, peas, sorrel, anion, mint, salt and water. In another regions of Tajikistan this dish called as dalda (Kulab, Yavan), baj (Badakhshan), gouja (Panjakent) and to its recipe are included some other grains and herbs.

Sumanak is most widespread and traditional Navruz food, a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat, symbolizing affluence. Two weeks before the celebration some woman of the village streets grow grains of wheat in the plates up to a few inches and in the celebration day they bring their germinated wheat to the idgah – celebration yard, where they cook sumanak in a big pot. The preparing sumanak is a hard work that is difficult for one person to cook it. Because the pot contain should be regularly mixed during the 15-20 hours. The whole process of preparing sumanak continues one day and night and therefore young men and women also join them in some villages. Women playing in the doira (daf, dafcha, musical instrument a type of tambourine) sing the folksongs about Navruz, spring and satiric quatrains, and dance. There is a belief sounds like this, if you welcome the new year joyfully that whole year you will be happy. In one hand women believe to this belief, but in another hand, the social function and entertainment part of the ritual cooking sumanak challenges them to the community. The women usually start their entertainment part of this ritual singing collectively the well-known folksong Sumanak dar jush mo kafcha zanem.

Oshtikunoni (reconciliation) is another custom, which is carried out before the New Year. Before the eve of Navruz people should forgive the offence of each other, or in other words, nobody should be injured or offended in the welcome days of next year. Usually old people play great role in the carrying out of this custom, through their mediation younger generation forgive if they had some offence from anybody and friends again.

One of the entertainment parts of Navruz celebration are traditional sport games and contests, like wrestling, running, buzkashi (goat-snatching). In addition to these competitions also in many districts and villages take place none-traditional or modern kinds of sport such as football, basketball, volleyball and tennis. In the villages many children and adults hold wrestling, cockfighting, egg-fighting, and etc.

But the most widespread Navruz contest is considered Gushtin that is wrestling. In every village, towns, district centers and cities take place wrestling competition for Navruz prizes. Winners are rewarded different prizes such as carpet, television, video-player, tape-recorder, refrigerator, and car and also traditionally prizes like bull, horse and sometimes camel from the organizers, local governments.

Except of above mentioned customs in the celebration days hold contest-show of the traditional costumes, national dishes, dancing and singing events and Miss Navruz competitions in the most of regions and districts of Tajikistan. The bride and groom show in traditional dresses is also a usual custom in which young spouses is the symbol of year and their traditional costume means being an old tradition of the Navruz.

There are many rubais quatrains and folksong dedicated Navruz in the Tajik Folklore which usually are performed in the beginning of spring and during the Navruz festival days. The main meanings of the Navruz, opposing the winter and spring; considering the human as a part of nature, and identifying Navruz with freedom are reflected in many quatrains.

The theme of Navruz festival is also one of the favorite themes of the Tajik poets, starting from Rudaki, the establisher of the Persian-Tajik Literature till to modern poets. There is no Tajik poet who did not compose some lines about Navruz.

Navruz is a means and a cause for gathering, communicating, enjoyment, getting esthetical delight, remembering the ancestors and expressing their tight connection with the nature, and moreover, through participating in the social gatherings people feel themselves as a member of the society. Navruz is the festival without borders that belongs to people of different ethnical backgrounds, languages, religions, gender, ages and social statuses.


Posted on: March 20, 2020, 10:44 p.m. by Saidmamad

Related tags: #nowruz #holiday


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Author: Saidmamad