Zoroastrians Throughout North America Celebrate Ancient Tradition of NoRuz, Ushering in a “New Day” to Mark the Turn of the Spring Equinox
Zoroastrians throughout North America will mark the celebration of NoRuz (pron. nouˈɾuːz), Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the official turn of the Zoroastrian New Year and the Spring equinox in the Northern hemisphere.
Article by Dolly Dastoor | Parliament of World’s Religions
For three thousand years of world history and for three hundred million people today, NoRuz unites regions and nationalities, religions and languages to share in the renewal of life on the first day of Spring. It has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other regions, beginning with its origins in Persia.
NoRuz, which means “New Day,” heralds spring and the season of harvest, and it brings us messages of love, hope, happiness, joy, harmony and peace, no matter which country we live in, what religion we follow, our ethnicity/background or whether or not we are of Persian heritage.
On 23 February 2010, in its 64th session, the United Nations recognized 21 March as the International Day of NoRuz. UNESCO, on 30 September 2009, declared NoRuz “an intangible heritage of humanity.” (UN resolution, the International Day [document A/64/L.30/Rev.2])
The beauty, meaning and symbolism of NoRuz can best be experienced by laying out the traditional Haft Sheen Table (photo above). The seven (Haft) items remind us of the seven attributes important in our faith tradition:
- Spenta Mainyu or Wisdom: the power to generate good thoughts, good words and good deeds
- Vohuman: The Good Mind
- Asha Vahishta: Ultimate Truth and Order
- Kshatrya Vairya: Benovelent Power of Good Governance
- Spenta Armaiti: Devotion, zeal and desire to be industrious
- Haaurvatat: Incessant striving toward perfection
- and Ameratat: Eternal bliss and immortality in this journey of life
Originated in Zoroastrianism, NoRuz is a universal celebration for all of humanity; a gift which cuts across religious, national, ethnic boundaries with its message of peace, friendship and harmony.
Zoroastrians are followers of one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions founded by the prophet Zarathushtra approximately 3,755 years ago in ancient Iran. Zoroastrians have long-served as bridge builders in interfaith dialogue, believing in truth, righteousness, charity, beneficence, respect for the environment and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
About Dolly Dastoor:
Dolly Dastoor is a widely published research clinical psychologist and specializes in the assessment of dementias, most recently was Clinical Administrative Chief at the Program in Dementia with Psychiatric Comorbidity at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal and Asst Prof in Psychiatry, McGill University. She received her doctorate from Concordia University. Before coming to Canada, she was a Senior Research Fellow in Psychiatry and coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO) Project on Schizophrenia at the University of Ibadan. She has been active in women’s organizations, especially Zonta International and attended CSW meetings in Vienna and New York. She is past President of the Zoroastrian Association of Quebec and of FEZANA (Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America) the umbrella organization representing over 20,000 Zoroastrians in United States and Canada. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the FEZANA Journal since 2005.
Image Credit Flickr User Remy (published with Creative Commons attribution): The Sofreh Haft Sin (the Table of the Seven “S”es) is a Nowruz (Persian New Year) tradition. Seven “S” words are represented in edible foods here to bring good luck for the New Year. Other “S” themed decorations and symbols also are used.