Parsis pray, party & say Navroz


March 22, 2006

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Culture | Events

CITY’S PARSI community celebrated Janshedi Navroz at Parsi Anjuman Mirbai Marg on Tuesday.

Jamshedi Navroz is a Spring festival which falls on March 21 stated to be the start of springs and also the vernal equinox of the sun. Hence the name was kept as Navroz, which literally means the New Day.

This is the most celebrated festival of the Parsis. Only one sect of Parsis considers it as Parsi New Year, nevertheless all Parsis join in the festivities, enjoy themselves, greet each other and attend the thanksgiving ceremonies at Fire Temples, said a resident of Parsi Anjuman.

Parsis celebrate Navroz in a grand and elaborate fashion. They rejoice whole-heartedly and celebrate the day in a spirit of friendship, harmony and happiness.

The festival has a long history as it was celebrated as far back as the 6th century B.C. when legendary kings like Cyrus and Darius ruled over the Persian Empire said Farida Khambatta another resident of Anjuman.
She added, “Celebration of the festival dates back to over 3000 years when the legendary king of Persia, Jamshedji ascended the throne on the day of ‘Navroz’. The day happened to be a vernal equinox- when the length of the day equals that of the night. The day marked the transition from winter to summer. Later, the particular day came to be known and celebrated as ‘Jamshed Navroz Festival’.”

“We usually clean the house, wear new clothes, decorate all doors and windows. Steps and thresholds are marked with beautiful patterns in colour powders like Rangoli,” she added.

Food is also an important component in these celebrations. Parsis are fond of good food. A non-veg dish is a must said Farida. “Rava”, the popular dish is cooked with Sooji, milk and sugar. When the mixture thickens, it is flavoured with rose water and sprinkled with grated nutmegs. The other popular dish is fried vermicelli, cooked in sugar syrup and sprinkled with almonds and raisins.

Nilofar Sadri another resident of Parsi Anjuman was busy in cooking the dinner for a gathering of 25 families.

She says, “ This year we don’t have the priest in our temple, so there will be no prayers—only a party. Today we have organised some games for children and others would eat drink and dance.”

According to old beliefs, Parsis grow wheat in small earthenware bowls and on the 13th day after the Navroze, they toss these tiny sprouts of plants into the nearby water-head, as a mark of reverence for water and greenery. It is practiced by devout Parses till this day.

But, Shias…

NAVROZ WENT without celebrations in the well-entrenched Shia community in the City as the day coincided with Chehellum mourning connected with Moharram.

Though Shia community goes by Islamic lunar calendar, it has been celebrating Navroz (new day) for centuries because the community draws its spiritual inspiration from Iran. Navroz has its roots in 2500-year-old Zoroastrian culture, which is pre-Islamic. Iranian, irrespective of their Islamic ideological moorings, had been celebrating Navroz with gaiety and pomp. Indian Shias took it from them and started colourful celebrations. Lucknow is known for riots of colour on the day. However, during the last few years the celebrations had been subdued because of Moharram. There were “nazr” (offerings) on late Monday night. In view of the day’s Zoroastrian connection the Ayatollahs in Iran have however been making desperate efforts to discourage the celebrations.

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