Navroz, also known as Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz or Nevruz is inscribed in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of India. The festival marks the New Year for Parsis, followers of Zoroastrianism, various sects of Muslim, both Shias and Sunnis. It is celebrated across a vast geographical area on March 21 in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
For a period of two weeks following Navroz - the New Year day, there are a variety of rituals, ceremonies and other cultural events. The festivities are said to start the New Year in fun with peace and harmony.
Origin of Navroz
The origin of Navroz celebrations have been mentioned in various historical accounts all over the world but mostly in the Muslim countries both in Shia and Sunni communities. According to one historic account, when Jamshed became the king of Iran, he called the day Navroz. Since then the day has been celebrated as a new year.
Also, March 21 is believed to be the beginning of spring and the day of equinox. The tradition has been passed over the centuries, even though the communities have long migrated to other parts of the world.
Celebrations of Navroz
The ‘new day’ festivities of Navroz are celebrated with friends and family. An important tradition practiced during the occasion is the gathering around ‘the Table’. A table or a common room is decorated with objects that symbolize purity, brightness, livelihood and wealth. A lavish feast is cooked to enjoy a special meal with loved ones. New clothes are worn, people visit relatives, particularly the elderly and neighbors to exchange greetings and goodwill. Children are gifted with special tokens. In some parts of the world, the celebrations also have street performances of music and dance, public rituals involving water and fire, traditional sports and the making of handicrafts and various kinds of merry-making.