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Navroz in Kashmir

[ March 21, 2017 ]

'Nav' means new and 'roz' means day. So it is easy to conclude that Navroz is the first day of the Persian year. However, this name is used only in Indian Sub-Continent (india, Pakistand and Bangladesh) where the community has adopted the indigenous language and culture. It is actually Nowruj or Nooruj or a various other derivatives of the word. This festival is more than 3000 years old.

There are records of it being celebrated way back in 6th century BC. So one can just imagine how old the custom is. The Iranis in those days were homogeneously Zoroastrians and thus it was celebrated as the single Persian new year. Some Irani communities belonging to other religions still celebrate this festival. This is the mythical day on which the great king Jamshedji of was crowed King of Persia. Jamshedji is a very important figure in the history of this interesting community. That explains why 'Jamshed' is such a common name among them. Of all the other important achievements of King Jamshedji, a major one was making the Persian calender scientific. He added elements of the solar calender to the system of determining dates. Instead of picking a random day as the Persian new year, he deciphered that is the day on which the sun leaves the constellation of Pisces and enters Aries. Another very scientific fact about the Parsi new year is that it occurs on the vernal equinox. This is the day on which the length of the day is equal to the length of the night. It celebrates the passage of winter and the onset of summer. Unlike other festivals that keep shifting dates according to the lunar calendar, this festival occurs on the 21st of March every year. The community that believes in fire as their main god has to keep a live fire in a bowl of water for this festival. They usually keep fire surrounded by water and wheat to signify cleansing by fire and the bountiful wealth of wheat grains. This ensemble is representative of the mythical 'Gathas' or forever-burning fire. The table on this day has 7 food delicacies, all beginning with 'sh' and 'sa' that symbolize the creation of the earth in 7 days. There is a lot to know about Navroz or any other tradition as such because every ritual has a hidden meaning. Navroz festival in Kashmir valley and parts of Jammu region is celebrated for 9 days. The Navroz festival of the Shiite Muslims comes a week after the New Year day. The shiite muslims celebrate this 9-day festival with good eating and activities showing a spirit of gay abandon, in contrast to recitation of religious dirges that characterize most of their festivals.

Navroz festival is celebrated with equal triumph and glory. The shiite muslims wear new clothes and go to the mosque to pray. The Navroz festival is celebrated with fun and frolic. Every Shiite muslim wishes their families and friends Navroz Mubarak. BDuring the Navroz festival in Jammu and Kashmir, the Shiite muslims attend special congregational prayers held only for this occasion in mosques in large open areas. The prayer is generally short, and is followed by a sermon. Worshippers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace and love after the congregational prayer is over. After the special prayers and merriment, shiite muslims visit the homes of their relatives and friends to thank almighty Allah and seek his blessings. As nature renews itself and overcomes the harshness of winter, so can there be renewal in different aspects of life: one's personal life, interpersonal relations, the home, and the community. Personal renewal includes spiritual renewal as well as forming or reaffirming pledges and goals for the new year. The symbolism of renewal extends to a future universal and enduring renovation of this world. This renovation will be accompanied by the resurrection of righteous souls.The task of human beings is to continually seek improvement and excellence, until that excellence becomes enduring. Further, as the hours of daylight grow and the hours of darkness diminish until at spring daylight begins to exceed darkness, so will the light of wisdom and righteousness increase until it prevails over the darkness of ignorance and malice. While good thoughts and good words assist in the process, good deeds assist in far greater measure. Novruz is therefore a reminder that improvement requires action, effort and diligence.It is necessary for youth to understand the significance of this ancient celebration and learn to participate both in the symbolism and the joyous celebrations.