The Zarathushtrian New Year
Ali A. Jafarey
Nowruz [pronounced NO-ROOZ] in Persian means "New-[year]-day". It is the beginning of the year for the people of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Tajikistan. Other Asian republics of the former Soviet Union are joining the group, and the latest report says that Turkey too has decided to declare Nowruz a holiday. It is also celebrated as the new year by the people of the Iranian stock, particularly the Kurds, in the neighboring countries of Georgia, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. It begins precisely with the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on about March 21.
By Abdol-Hossein Zarrinkoub (1922-1999)
All Iranians, whatever their religious beliefs, language or origins and wherever they live, are strongly attached to Now Rouz (New Year). This festival, which does not feature in the Islamic lunar calendar, begins the solar year at the spring equinox, 21 March. Lasting around two weeks, it is the longest of all Iranian feasts and its rites are the richest in symbolism. The ceremonial includes customs from pre-lslamic festivals and rites introduced by people of non-Iranian origin, such as the Jews, and even borrowings from rites practiced elsewhere.