March 17, 2014
The rough winter we’ve had here in NY this year has made me especially keen on welcoming the coming spring! The official change of seasons, the vernal equinox, is almost here and with it begins, Norooz, or Persian new year.
Norooz (also spelled Naruz, Norouz, or Nowruz, meaning “new day”) marks the first day of spring and the renewal of nature! Celebrations include symbols of life, rebirth, fertility, sweetness and enlightenment.
Khouneh Tekouni or spring cleaning (literally: shaking the house)
A thorough house cleaning takes place in preparation for Norooz. This symbolizes a fresh start in the new year and also prepares the house for visits.(The twelve day celebration includes daily visits to family and friends) Flowers are purchased to decorate the home and it is customary to buy new clothes to see in the year.
Chahārshanbe Suri or fire festival
Rooted in Zoroastrian rituals celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, this celebration takes place the night before the last Wednesday of the year. Traditionally, people will build small bonfires out in the street and jump over them. Symbolically the fire is believed to burn away any fear, sickness and pain of the previous year, while simultaneously bestowing its strength and vibrancy on the jumper.
On the first day of Norooz, families gather for a feast and to exchange gifts. The table is set with the Haft-Sin, made up of seven items each beginning with the letter Sîn, (س) in Persian alphabet. The seven symbolic items call back to nature and stand for the seven angelic heralds of life-rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty.
Traditional haft-sin items include:
Sabzeh – ( سبزه)-sprouts (green grass) growing in a dish, usually wheat, mung bean, or lentil – symbolize rebirth
Samanu – (سمنو)-sweet pudding made from simple wheat sprouts, transformed into a rich and sweet dish- symbolizing affluence
Senjed – (سنجد)- the sweet dried fruit of the lotus tree – symbolizing love
Sir – (سیر)- garlic – symbolizing medicine
Sib – ( سیب)- apples – symbolizing beauty and health
Somāq – (سماق)- sumac fruit – represents the color sunrise and the triumph of good over evil
Serkeh – ( سرکه) – vinegar – symbolizing age and patience
Other items you may find on a haft-sin table are:
Goldfish in a bowl – symbolizes life and the sun leaving the astral sign of Pisces
Candles- representing enlightenment and happiness
An orange floating in a bowl of water -represents the earth floating in space
Flowering hyacinth or narcissus- symbolizing the coming of spring
Coins- to represent prosperity and wealth
Mirror -symbolizes reflection on the past
The first day of the new year starts off 12 days of family visits, music and dancing. On the 13th day , “Sizdeh-Bedar,” the celebration is taken outdoors, into the beauty of nature. Festivities are often accompanied by singers, musicians and performers of classical Persian dance or Middle Eastern bellydance.
Learn more about the celebration of Norooz here
Mariyah is an NYC based professional dancer, committed to authenticity, innovation and exhilaration in the performance and teaching of bellydance.
To learn more, or to inquire about booking for performances, workshops or classes,visit www.bellydancernewyork.com,join the mailing list, or find her on Facebook For group performance information visit Infinity Bellydance