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Significance of Navroz festival

Navroz is celebrated on March 21 every year.[/caption] By Muhammad Amin The word Navroz has been derived from the Persian Nav and Roz – Nav meaning new and Roz day, respectively. As a whole, Navroz means the new day of the year. The tradition marks the first day of the spring or equinox and the beginning of the New Year in the Persian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward Equinox which falls accurately on the 21st of March every year. The tradition of Navroz is being celebrated by people belonging to different religious and ethnic background for thousands of years. According to traditions festival of Navroz has its roots in ancient Persia since Achaemedians (550-330 BC), but the tradition has also become and essential parts of many Muslim societies throughout the world. Some traditions indicate that the festival began with Zoroaster . Navroz is also a holy day, besides Shiite Muslims, for the Sufis, Bektashis, and adherents of Bahai faith. The term Navroz in writing first appeared in Persian historical records in the 2nd century AD. When Fars or old Persia was conquered by the Muslims in the 8th century. Rulers in different periods tried to minimize or do away with the scope of the tradition. However; the followers of the tradition continued and promoted it even in harsh times. In Iran also the Islamic Republic met with little success to suppress it as according to the Ayatollahs the festival was a pagan holiday and a distraction from purely Islamic practices, however such efforts later became wrong and ineffective. After the demise of the caliphate and the re-emergence of the Persian dynasties such as Sassanids and Buyids the festival of Navroz was elevated even to more important event. The Buyids lifted all the restriction imposed by the Caliphs. Even the Turkish and Mongol conquerors did not make any attempt to abolish the festival and hence the festival remained an important event in the Persian lands by both the people and officials. Presently the festival of Navroz is being celebrated as public holiday in Iran, Afghanistan, Albania, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Iraqi Kurdistan and Kazakhstan etc. ranging from two to four days. In Iran preparations for the ritual begin months before. The Shi`te Muslims of South Asia, especially in Pakistan and India, also commemorate the day with great religious pompous.

In Shi,ite Islam the festival of Navroz occupies an important place both spiritually and culturally. Muhammad Bakir Majlisi in his book Bihar al Anwar quotes from Imam Jafar a Sadiq, the great grandson of Imam Ali (a.s) that the following important events have occurred on this day.
• God made a covenant with the souls before creation. • Navroz marks the first day when universe started its motion. • Adam was created • Hazrat Ibrahim destroyed the pagan idols that were being worshipped by his father and others. • The holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the night of Layla tul Qadr, the Night of Power. • Muhammad took Hazrat Ali on his shoulders to smash 360 idols in Mecca. • Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared Ali as his legitimate successor at Ghadir-e-Khum. • Hazrat Ali was born on the day of Navroz. • The prophet migration from Mecca to Medina took place on this day. • Hazrat Ibrahim and Ismail built Kaba on the day of Navroz. • Hazrat Salman Farsi converted to Islam on Navroz day and used to bring special dishes to the holy prophet and Harat Ali on this day. In Chitral the Shiite Ismaili Muslims celebrate the festival of Navroz with great religious zeal. Preparations for the festival start many days before. In Garam Chashma it is called small Pa`thak. New preparations are made for the day . The day of Pa`thak is preceded by Samoon when homes are completely cleaned and gifts are exchanged. At dawn a person visits the home with saying of Mubarak (giving congratulation for the festival).He is offered local pastries. Previously all homes were decorated with flour sprinkling. The decorations include different images of animals and flowers. However, with the passage of time this practice has gone into oblivion. The day is spent by visiting homes of dears and nears. Women and men also go for traditional sports like swinging, fokllore songs ,stone throwing and tug of war etc. Briefly the whole day is commemorated with rejoice and merry making. It is to be noted that people belonging to the Sunni sect of Islam also partake in the celebrations .Special programmes are organized where local scholars shed light on the religious and cultural scope of the day. Quiz competition and debate discussions are held for students at the regional local and regional levels organized by the Ismaili Tariqa and Religious Education Board. Special devotional prayers are also arranged in the places of worship. The festival of Navroz gives us the lessons of unity, pluralism, tolerance and good will . People visit each other homes and this in return promotes the spirit of unity and brotherhood among them. They understand about each other conditions and give helping hand to the needy. Last but not the least the festival is part of a great cultural heritage which highlights the rich cultural values of Chitral, which have its roots entrenched in Central Asia. This culture is deep rooted since centuries and being commemorated with great enthusiasm and respect. Such activities will help to promote our rich cultural values. The significance of Navroz can be measured from the fact when the UN General Assembly in 2010 declared March 21st as the International Day of Navroz describing it as spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrating for over 3000 years and calling on world countries to draw on the holiday rich history to promote peace & good will. During the meeting of “The Inter-Governmental Committee for safeguarding the Intangible Heritage of the United Nations, held between 28th September-2nd November 2009 at Abu Dubai, Navroz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Therefore, it is essential that we should make all efforts to preserve this important tradition with all its nuts and bolts as it is a symbol of our great cultural heritage, otherwise such unique and rich cultural traditions are being eroded by the effects of modernity and its so called followers.]]>

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4 Comments
  1. Muhammad Amin says

    Please Fida sahib do some research on Shiite Islam .Allama Majilis book Beharul Anwar is considered to be an authoritative work in the Shiite Islam and for the Shiite Muslim it is more religious than cultural event.

  2. Muhammad Amin says

    All the four branches of Shiite Islam (Athna Ashari, Ismaili, Mustaali and Zaidi) celebrate the day with great respect and religious zeal in Pakistan.

  3. Fida Mohammad says

    Interesting discussion on Navroz and its relevance to shii Islam. However one needs to research the authenticity and credibility of the sources from which the information has been drawn. It is true that Navroz (March 21st) is a national holiday in many countries in Central Asia and it is celebrated with great pomp and show but there is absolutely no religious connection to Navroz in these countries. It is a cultural event to welcome spring and nothing more than that for the people in Central Asia. Also, if Navroz was such a big religious event for Shii Islam, why the majority Shiis in Pakistan, India, and some other countries do not celebrate it? In my humble knowledge, Navroz is a cultural event which may or may not have any significant connection to any religion.

  4. Amir Hussain says

    Excellent article Amin Baloch Sahb.

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