Nowruz: A New Year Celebrated Across Central Asia and the Middle East
Nowruz is a traditional festival celebrated by millions of people across the globe, particularly in Central Asia and the Middle East. The festival marks the beginning of the new Persian year and the arrival of spring. It is an ancient tradition that has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and is a time of renewal, growth, and celebration.
The festival is celebrated in many countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, among others. In each country, Nowruz is celebrated in its unique way, with distinct cultural differences.
In Iran, Nowruz is the most important holiday of the year, celebrated for over two weeks. The festivities start with the Chaharshanbe Suri, where people light bonfires and jump over them to ward off evil spirits.
Haft Seen Table
The New Year’s Eve is celebrated by families gathering around the Haft Seen table, which contains seven items that symbolize health, wealth, and prosperity.
Iranians also exchange gifts, visit their relatives and friends, and have a day outside on the 13th day of the festival.
In Afghanistan, Nowruz is celebrated for two weeks, and the preparations start a month before the actual date.
The festival is known as “Nawroz,” and it is celebrated by the Pashtun and Hazara communities. The festivities include the traditional Haft Mewa, a mix of seven dried fruits that symbolize fertility and good luck.
In Azerbaijan, Nowruz is called “Novruz Bayrami” and is celebrated for four days. The last four Tuesdays of winter (usually starts from the last Tuesday of February) before Novruz are celebrated by Azerbaijanis and called as “Charshanba”. According to Azerbaijani traditions, “Charshanbas” indicates the end of winter and start of spring. According to the folk belief, the first Charshanba represents water and celebrates its purifying nature.
During Novruz holiday, various songs related to Novruz are sung and different activities such as tightrope walking and wrestling take place in the public squares. Another ceremony is that of growing samani in a plate, which symbolises the fertility of spring.
In Uzbekistan, Nowruz is celebrated for one week, and the festival is known as “Navruz.” The festivities include the traditional “Sumalak,” a dish made from germinated wheat, and people also visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects.
Nowruz is an important festival that is celebrated in many countries, each with its unique cultural differences. However, the festival’s essence remains the same, and it is a time of renewal, growth, and celebration.