Celebrating Norouz a New Day!
Norouz, also known as Nowruz, is a Persian word meaning “new day”. It’s a symbolic festival for the Iranian community that marks the arrival of spring and the first day of the year.
The festival is a celebration of the New Year or the first day of Farvardin on the Persian calendar, beginning on 21 March on the Gregorian western calendar.
Nowruz has its roots in Zoroastrianism (a religion practised in ancient Persia), that viewed the arrival of spring as a victory over darkness.
The festival has been celebrated in Iran and the Persian diaspora for more than 3,000 years and first rose to major prominence during the Achaemenid times (555-330 BC).
Mehdi Soodi, Iranian Community Leader, Melbourne Australia said:
“This is a special time of year where we sit down together as family and wish for prosperity in the New Year. It’s important to continue the traditions and celebrate Norouz and show our children how influential the Persian culture was across many countries.”
The festival has significant Persian cultural influence and is celebrated in many countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The spring festival’s focus is fertility and new life and many families celebrate with symbolic foods i.e. seeds and eggs.
Households traditionally set up tables covered with seven symbolic food items collectively named ‘haft-seen’.
Haft means “seven” and “Seen” translates to “s” in Farsi, and all of the seven items should ideally start with the letter ‘s’.
These include seed sprouts (usually wheat, oats and other seeds, which symbolize rebirth), senjed (also known as silverberry or Persian olive, which is thought to spark love), garlic (protection), apple (fertility), sumac (love), vinegar (patience), and samanu, a pudding made of sprouted wheat (affluence).
The table setting also includes a Koran, eggs, mirrors and poetry.
‘What to Make for Nowruz, the Persian New Year’ by Louisa Shafia from Saveur provides recipes on eggs loaded with herbs, whole fish, and other recipes that represent celebration of spring renewal. Click here
When it comes to greetings throughout the day, people greet one another with the rite of hamāzor, in which one’s right hand is passed between the palms of another.
With the Impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, Iran and around the world where Norouz is celebrated, large celebrations have been impacted.
Community leader Mehdi Soodi notes: “Good health is also important, especially during these challenging times, so during Norouz we will reflect on everything in our lives and just wish the best for others.”
“Our Persian New Year celebrations is all about positivity, peace, good health and new beginnings and we wish to share these events and occasions with out non-Persian friends and family in Australia.”
“Australia is a great multicultural country and we Persians always try to make positive contributions where we can and what better opportunity than our New Year.”
Iran is bounded to the north by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea, to the east by Pakistan and Afghanistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.
The Census in 2016 recorded 62,792 with Iranian ancestry in Australia.
Keen to learn more or engage Iranian and other Middle Eastern communities in Australia? Contact our team at [email protected]