When the sun enters the Zodiac sign of Aries, the minuscule Parsi-Irani Zoroastrians will celebrate the ancient festival of Navroz at 10 am on Sunday.
The day marks the vernal equinox, when the sun shines directly over the equator, resulting in days and nights of equal length.
Families will greet each other with ‘Navroz Mubarak’ and some will lay out a spread of seven dishes that, interestingly, all begin with the letter ‘S’. These include sib (apple), sabzi (vegetables), sir (garlic), serkeh (vinegar), sumac (a crushed herb), senjed (olives) and sikka (coins).
They will flock to fire temples and offer special prayers to the Sun on this day.
Interestingly, Navroz is also celebrated with even greater gusto in Shia Iran and Sunni Tajikistan and other central Asian countries, once part of the Persian empire.
The arrival of spring is much awaited. It is a time when nature dons a festive garb and new life and joy prevails on earth. The festival illustrates the principle of change inherent in all material existence. It also conveys the message that human life is closely interwoven with the cycle of happiness, joy, success and failure.
The origin of this festival goes back several thousand years back in time in the pre-historical ages when Jamshed of the Peshadadian dynasty was anointed king – the day of his anointment was called Navroz (‘New Day’).
According to Firdausi’s Persian epic, The Shahnama, Jamshed discovered the art of extracting gold, silver and precious stones during his long rule. ‘Noshdaru’ or wine, used to cure many diseases, was also introduced during his reign, as was the art of navigation.