Monday, March 20, 2006

Norouz and Its Symbolism - Iran va Jahan

Today, earth enters into the vernal equinox and thus spring begins. Iranians all over the world, irrespective of their religious creed or ethnicity, celebrate Norouz which literally means the dawn of a new day. Norouz, considered the most important celebration of the year, is the greatest symbol of a cultural identity which has outlived all adversities and adversaries.

The Norouz Table: Haft Seen

Every house gets a thorough cleaning before the arrival of Norouz and wheat, barley or lentils are grown so that the sprouts are three to four inches in height by Norouz.

A table is laid. It has a copy of a sacred book (either religious or poetry like Divan-e Hafez or Shahnameh of Ferdowsi), a mirror (reflecting our past and showing us our present so that we can thoughtfully plan our future), candles (symbolizing enlightenment, warmth, and energy to lead a righteous life that would, in turn, radiate light, give warmth, and provide energy for others), a Seville orange floating in a bowl of water represents the earth floating in space, a brazier for burning wild rue ,a sacred herb whose smoldering fumes ward off sickness and evil spirits, a flask of rose water known for its magical cleansing power, bowl of water with live gold fish (symbolizing a happy life, full of activity and movement), the plates and vessels with green sprouts, flowers, fruits, coins, bread, sugar cone, various grains, colourfully painted boiled eggs (symbolizing productivity) and above all, seven items beginning in Persian with the letter "S" (seen). The number of the items however can be higher. These are:

  • Serkeh (vinegar), symbolizing age and patience;
  • Somagh (sumac), its red colour represent the color of sunrise; with the appearance of the sun, Light replaces Darkness and Good conquers Evil;
  • Seer (garlic), symbolizing pacification and peace;
  • Samanu a sweetish paste, symbolizing sophistication. Samanu is made when common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding and represents the ultimate sophistication of Persian cooking;
  • Sib (Apple), symbolizing the healthy and beautiful fruits of our world, both literally and allegorically;
  • Senjed (the dry fruit of the lotus tree), which represents love. It has been said that when lotus tree is in full bloom, its fragrance and its fruit emanates love;
  • Sabzi (sprouts), symbolizing new growth;
  • Sekkeh( coins), symbolizing prosperity;
  • Sonbol (hyacinth), symbolize natural beauty and aroma.
  • The whole table which energizes and involves all our senses symbolizes all that is Good: light, reflection, warmth, life, love, joy, production, prosperity, and nature.
  • The Sabzeh (sprouts) are kept until Sizdeh-beh-dar, the 13th day of the New Year when families picnic out in the nature. It is on that day that Sabzeh should be thrown in running water, so that lethargy, lassitude and wariness are washed away.

Original Article

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