It’s that time when our entire community rejoices and celebrates Jamshedi Navroz – the Iranian New Year – with full fervour! Point to be noted is that we also celebrate Diwali and Holi, Christmas and Thanksgiving, Makrant Sankranti and Gokulashtami and Pongal every holy festival observed and honoured through the length and breadth of India! Well basically, where there is celebration, a party and pegs to be had, be sure you’ll find our bawajis in that mix. The fact that Navroz falls on March 21st, considered the Spring Equinox, is perhaps why we have that added spring in our step and style!
While it is celebrated the world over in various forms, us Bawas celebrate it ritually and reverently with a glass in hand, two bottles on the side, a mouthful of cuss words and all kinds of sweet and savoury delights. Since it heralds the coming of renewed life in all nature, the Parsi way of following this holy tradition is naturally by restocking all the spirits and wines to capacity in their households. Navroz being one of our oldest and the most important festivals, it is celebrated by the not so young and the old in our community alike.
An interesting fact about the advent of Navroz – Firdausi, in his Shah Namesh, Book of Kings, attributes its origin to the legendary King of Persia, Jamshed, son of Tehmooraz of the Peshdadian dynasty, in Iran. It is said that Jamshed was a great king that cared immensely for the welfare of his subjects. Though there were no clocks to measure time, the king sought the help of the great astronomers and mathematicians of the times, who devised a calendar which was known as the ‘Tacquim-e-Nowrooze-e-Sheheriyari’. The king accordingly decided that Navroz or the New Year would start on the Vernal Equinox, when night and day were of equal duration.
In the past, Navroz was celebrated for 15 days, but it is now observed for only two days. The hangovers are rough and can get nasty, and the old wobbly knees and those dancing shoes do tend to wear a little thin after a day or two of rowdy celebrations! In olden times, Navroz was announced by firing a cannon at the correct hour, but now it’s usually done with modern announcements. The cost of losing a Parsi or two, by way of the cannon firing was far too heavy a cost for this miniscule community!
Centuries ago, the fun tradition of rolling an egg was common. According to this practice, an egg was placed on a very smooth surface and the exact time was recorded by the slight movement of the egg. As per legend, the earth was supposed to rest on the horns of a bull and every year it flipped from one horn to the other, resulting in the movement of the egg. This sounds a bit farfetched, definitely unreliable, but most likely a fun time with family and friends gathered around to watch that Egg! And with the first visible sign of its movement, everyone wished each other and the whole world a happy and prosperous New Year!
The egg-rolling practice, however, did not last long and was soon abandoned, as year after year, the eggs disappeared long before the time could be established… Appearing in renewed forms of scrambled and fried eggs the next morning!
Following the egg-rolling ritual, was another, where youngsters kissed the hands of elders by way of respect. They visited the elderly relatives of friends and family to seek blessings for the coming year. Our religion has always placed great significance to the well-being of the elderly, not just by way of respect, but in essence a lot of times to honour the cycle of life. (And of course, there is also the question of the majority of its members, being well above the age of 70 too!)
While Navroz may be celebrated differently in different parts of the world, the underlining message it carries is definitely that of rejuvenation, renewal and rejoicing. It’s about new beginnings, opening doors, welcoming opportunities, and love and luck to enter your life. It’s as much about evolution and hope, as casting aside your fear, blocks and despair. It’s about repair and renewal, joy and sunshine. It’s about the end of long days of winter, to opening your arms and doors and welcoming spring! It’s as much about nature and joyous well-being as it is about abundance and prosperity in all things.
Navroz symbolises new beginnings, a freshness in step and mind, a deliberate attempt at casting off the old and adorning the new. It’s about shine and polish, choices and attitude. So, this Navroz, look up at the sun, the stars and the sky. Work towards hope and abundance… a life that seeks joy often gets it. All life is a gift. To have your mind, body and emotions intact all the days of your life is nothing short of a miracle! We live in a world that only caters to our needs. All life is so much bigger, more mysterious and unknown than we can ever imagine. Navroz is and should be all about celebrating this miracle called life!
While we wade through life most days, let this 21st March be all about renewed purpose and intents. Life is a series of wants and needs. And no! I do not mean that new car, or that plot in Alibaug you’ve been eyeing, but of course, if you do, go ahead – no harm in calling me over, once the new build is complete though! Now, the real secret to a happy, fulfilled life is doing things in the here and now. To be completely engaged and immersed in what you do is finding real meaning and purpose to life.
Most importantly let this New Year be all about love. Love for all things living and thriving… Love for oneself and love for others… For without love, there is no joy or celebration worth enjoying. So, pick up those glasses and let us toast the advent of a buoyant, bright New Year ahead! Navroz Mubarak!!
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