Haft sin

Nowruz Pirooz! by Sarvin Haghighi


As we approach Persian New year I thought it would be good to share some details about Nowruz for those who might not be familiar with it.

Nowruz (pronounced no-rooz) is a combination of two Persian words. The first word “now” means new and the second word “ruz” means day; together they mean “New Day.” Nowruz is the name for the celebrations that observe the New Year for many Persian and Central Asian communities. The exact beginning of the New Year occurs when the season changes from winter to spring on the vernal equinox, which usually happens on 20 or 21 March each year. The spelling of Nowruz in English can take many forms, including: Noroz, Norouz, Nowruz and Norooz. For this resource we have used the spelling Nowruz.

It is a secular holiday that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths and as such can take on additional interpretations through the lens of religion. Nowruz is partly rooted in the religious tradition of Zoroastrianism and became a popular celebration among the communities that grew from the Persian influenced cultural areas. While the physical region called Persia no longer exists, the traditions of Nowruz are strong among people in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Canada and the United States.

The most important activity in the celebration of Nowruz is making the haft-seen table. Haft is the Persian word for the number seven and seen is the Persian word for the letter S. Literally, the haft-seen table means a “table of seven things that start with the letter S’. Creating the haft-seen table is a family activity that begins by spreading a special family cloth on the table. Next the table is set with the seven S items. Here are some of the items and what they symbolize:

Sumac (crushed spice of berries): For the sunrise and the spice of life Senjed (sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree): For love and affection Serkeh (vinegar): For patience and age Seeb (apples): For health and beauty

Sir (garlic): For good health Samanu (wheat pudding): For fertility and the sweetness of life Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass): For rebirth and renewal of nature

In addition to these S items, there are other symbolic items that go on the haft-seen table, depending on the tradition of each family. It is customary to place a mirror on the table to symbolize reflection on the past year, an orange in a bowl of water to symbolize the Earth, a bowl of real goldfish to symbolize new life, colored eggs to represent fertility, coins for prosperity in the New Year, special flowers called hyacinths to symbolize spring and candles to radiate light and happiness. Each family places other items on the table that are special for example, family photos of those who might not be present at the table once the the Qur’an- the holy book of Islam - or the Shahnameh, an epic Persian story of colorful kings and princes written around the year 1000 CE or book of poetry by the famous poet Shams ud-Din Hafez. Hafez who lived in Persian lands during the 14th Century CE.

As we are currently in Dubai due to the MOP Foundation Auction on my piece which will be on March 21st, I will have to share with you the image of our version of haft sin at a later stage.

Last but not least, here is a great song perfumed by Ali Azimi welcoming Nowruz.

Nowruz Pirooz !