The Parsi New Year, known as Navroz or Nowruz, is a festive occasion celebrated between the months of July and August. This year, the Parsi New Year falls on the 16th of August. With its origins rooted in the Persian words ‘Nav’ and ‘Roz’, signifying ‘new day’, this beloved festival carries a historical legacy spanning over 3,000 years.
Origins of the Parsi New Year
While the global observance of Navroz aligns with the Spring Equinox on March 21st, the Parsi community in India follows the Shahenshahi calendar. This distinctive calendar does not incorporate leap years, resulting in a shift of festivities by 200 days from the original date.
Historical and Cultural Importance
The festival’s origins are intertwined with Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s most ancient monotheistic faiths. Its inception traces back over 3,500 years to ancient Iran, when a visionary named Prophet Zarathustra propagated this belief. The era of Zoroastrianism’s prosperity persisted until 1,400 years ago, when the rise of Islam in the 7th century led to significant changes. As a consequence, numerous Zoroastrians left Iran and sought refuge in India and Pakistan. Within these new lands, the Parsi community emerged, finding a haven for their faith.
The festival’s narrative harkens back to the legendary King Jamshed, credited with saving the world from a catastrophic winter that posed a threat of obliteration.
Observance of the Parsi New Year
The most substantial Parsi community in India resides in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, constituting the largest single group in the country.
During this occasion, people offer prayers for well-being and prosperity, dedicating their day to tidying their homes and embellishing them with flowers and intricate rangoli designs. They attire themselves in traditional clothing and visit the fire temple, referred to as the ‘Agiary’, where offerings of milk, flowers, fruits, and sandalwood are made to the sacred fire.
The festivities center around the “Four Fs”: fire, fragrance, food, and friendship. The celebration encompasses savoring delectable Parsi cuisine, seeking forgiveness for past year’s shortcomings, mental purification, and embarking on the new year with sentiments of love and harmony.
Parsi delicacies such as Prawn Patio, Mori Dar, Patra Ni Macchi, Haleem, Akoori, Sali Boti, Saffron Pulao, and Falooda grace the feasting tables. Parsis adorn their tables with special decorations, including sacred books, mirrors, aromatic incense, fruits, vibrant flowers, shiny coins, candles, a bowl containing a goldfish, and an image of Zarathustra.