By Seyed Amin Saneey Mehri

Noruz, manifestation of culture of peace, friendship among societies

April 7, 2018

Regardless of the fact that Noruz (Iranian New Year falling on March 21) has its origins in the ancient Persia (Iran), nowadays it is respected and celebrated in many countries, and is considered as a symbol of peace and friendship.

Noruz marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated at the first day of the first month of the Iranian calendar, Farvardin. 

Recently, 12 countries throughout the world have been selected as the keepers of heritage. Iran, accompanied by 11 other countries, including Iraq, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey, have jointly registered Noruz in UNESCO World Heritage. 

The first global Noruz festival was held in March 27, 2010 in Tehran. Today, a total of 300 million people around the world celebrate this occasion, which indicates that the geography of Noruz has gone beyond the boundaries of these 12 countries and is recognized in most Middle Eastern countries, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Indian subcontinent and the Balkans, and even the Iranian residing in the USA and Canada. 

In Noruz, people wear new clothes, visit their relatives and friends, and forgive any past resentment or irritation. In this occasion –which is the greatest Iranian celebration – people exchange gifts as a sign of peace and friendship. 

Another tradition of Noruz is the Haft-Sin table (an arrangement of seven symbolic items starting with ‘S’ in Persian). Traditionally a poem by Iranian poet Saadi had been written on tablecloth’s margin emphasizing that the table is provided for both friends and enemies (signifying peace and friendship). 

In Haft-Sin table, seven items beginning by the letter ‘s’ in Persian are arranged, each associated with a special meaning: silver berry or Persian olive (in Persian ‘senjed’) as a symbol of thought-out action; apple (in Persian ‘sib’) as a symbol of health and love; wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts (in Persian ‘sabzeh’) as a symbol of liveliness; sweet paste made entirely from germinated wheat (in Persian ‘samanu’) as a symbol of patience and endurance; garlic (in Persian ‘seer’) as a symbol of contentment; vinegar (in Persian ‘serkeh’) as a symbol of sufferings and hard times of life (no committed and respondent human can live without concerns in life); and sumach (in Persian ‘somaq’), as a symbol of patience and toleration regarding opposing and different beliefs. 

The book and mirror are also a part of many Haft-Sin tables. Some believe that it is better to put coin (a symbol of wealth) in the vicinity of water (a symbol of purity and light), so they put some coins in a bowl of water, and place it in front of a mirror as a symbol of wealth and abundance. Muslim Iranians, place the Holy Quran on their Haft-Sin table, as a sign of trust and resort to God at the first moments of the New Year. 

By looking at Noruz ancient ceremonies, one can immediately find some obvious signs of the culture of peace and friendship, which had been celebrated by the ancient Iranians and the countries of Iranian plateau. 

United Nations General Assembly Noruz Resolution was signed in February 23, 2010 (A/RES/64/253), according to which March 21 (the 1st day of the Iranian calendar month of Farvardin) is proclaimed as the “International Noruz Day”.

For a long time, the greatest political figures from around the world congratulate Noruz to Iranians, and this is an indicative of the influence that culture can have on the global community exchanges. 

Regarding the effectiveness of culture on all the human beings living on Earth and on the creation of a peaceful world, Michelle Lebaron, author and researcher, says: “Every culture is like a member of the orchestra or a soloist, but it is through coordination and cohesion that they can play a wonderful music; therefore culture can create a great world.” 

“Culture is the basic part of the conflict, as well as the resolution of it. Cultures are underground rivers, flowing in our lives and relationships to present this message: we must shape self-understanding, attitudes, prejudices, and ideas of ours as well as others,” she adds. 

Noruz in Iran provides an opportunity for the Iranians to confirm their real policy – peaceful coexistence of all people around the world - by presenting the culture and traditions of this ancient celebration. In addition, Noruz can be a true reflection of the history and culture of this country, and can present a brighter picture of Iran to the global community. 

Seyed Amin Saneey Mehri is the director of public relations in the Revival Fund for Cultural and Historic Sites affiliated to Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran.

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