Nowrooz is honored and celebrated from Magnolia in central Asia to Albania in Eastern Europe and from India to The Republic of Tataristan in the federation of Russia. In some countries Nowrooz is celebrated as a national festival, in some as a national holiday, and in Afghanistan and Iran, this day marks the first day of the New Year. Last week this celebration made its’ way to DLS!
Nowrooz holds many traditions and rituals which date back more than 3,000 years ago. The pre-party festivities start with what is often considered the largest celebration, Khaane Tekaani, or spring cleaning. And, after the cleaning is when the fun begins!
One of the most sacred rituals of the New Year is the setting of the Haft Seen table. Haft seen (seven seen), Haft in Farsi/Dari means seven and ‘Seen’ refers to the letter Seen in Farsi/Dari alphabet. Seven in Persian culture, symbolizes holiness and spirituality. Some researchers believe that Haft Seen is associated with holiness of 7 planets and some believe that Haft Seen is referring to seven angels who are representing AHORA MOZDA (God in the book of Zoroastrianism). Abu Rayhan al-Beruni, a prominent Islamic scholar and polymath writes “When King Jamshid defeated Aherman (The Evil), the land became greener and the drought ended. People celebrated and called it the new day or new era. They celebrated this day by planting seven different grains”. In modern Afghanistan and Iran Haft Seen includes seven items with the letter Seen.
1. Seer (Garlic): Seer Symbolizes health
2. Sabzah (Wheat): symbolizes rebirth
3. Samanue or Samanak (A dish made of wheat germ): it symbolizes prosperity
4. Seeb (Apple): it is referring to gorgeousness
5. Somaq (Sumac): In Assyrian Neo Aramaic language it’s also called Sumaqa. The color of this plant/flower symbolizes the sunrise and the new beginning.
6. Serkah (Vinegar): In Persian culture, vinegar represents old age and endurance.
7. Senjid (Persian Olive or Oleaster): It symbolizes love and affection.
Muslims also place the Quran on the Haft Seen table. However, more secular families, use a Persian poetry book by Hafiz or Rumi on their decoration table.
Students, instructors, staff, friends, and family gathered around the Haft Seen table to enjoy the authentic Afghan cuisine, take part in hena and calligraphy, and participated in the much anticipated and competitive egg cracking game! Students gave informative and educational presentations on the significance of Nowooz as well as the culture, and all of the onlookers and party goers were treated with a performance of Attan-the Afghan National Dance.
It was a day filled with laughter, togetherness, warmth, and well wishes for a prosperous New Year!