Greetings! This is the first day of spring! Happy Spring to you all and Happy Nowruz to those who were awaiting the arrival of the Persian New Year 1391 (no kidding). “Nowruz” refers literally to a new day and metaphorically the beginning of a new time, a new stage in life of nature of which we human beings are an important part. The Iranian calendar is a solar calendar celebrating seasonal change. In this cosmology which is based on Zoroastrian belief, light and darkness are engaged in a continuous struggle which unfolds inside all manifestations of nature. The role of us human beings is to help light to overcome darkness by spreading “good words, good deeds, and good thoughts” گفتار نیک، کردار نیک، پندارنیک. And by preventing the destruction and pollution of nature. Ancient Iranians considered it a spiritual duty to plant a tree!
How Do Iranians celebrate Nowruz?
First, they clean the house thoroughly. In fact there is a Persian word for especial Nowruz cleaning called “shaking the house” خانه تکانی. You shake the house clean! Then a special table is set with seven items on it all carrying names that begin with letter “seen” or “S” in English. That is why the table is called the haft seen, literally “the seven seens.” All the items on the table are natural, nourishing, or somehow related to life (things like, apples, flowers, sprouted wheat, etc.) The haft seen table is usually decorated beautifully. It is your chance to share your artistic creativity with friends and relatives who visit you to say Happy New Year! Take a look at a few:
Sending Nowruz Cards
One thing that Iranians at home, and all over the world, do at Nowruz is sending each other Happy Nowruz cards. While there is a whole industry of creating such cards – electronic and otherwise – for sale, many people create their own cards. My lovely friends Zari and Reza do that by combining two verses of the great Iranian poet Hafiz of Shiraz (1325-1390) with their own art of design and calligraphy. I just got their card for this year:
Who Gave Iranians A Great Eidi This Year?
First, you need to know that Eidi عیدی in Persian means a special gift given on the occasion of an Eid, a day of celebration (in this case the Eid is Nowruz). That is to say, people give each other gifts. This year, a great Eidi for Iranians came from an Israeli, yes Israeli, couple. Last Saturday night, an Israeli couple – two graphic designers named Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir– decided to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly. They created a slogan you can impose over your profile picture or any picture of your choice. Many of the first responses they got were cynical ones. But more and more Israelis took up the call in earnest.
First things first: “Ronnie and Michal! We love you too! And we love the peace loving people of Israel! You had the courage to cut through the cynicism and fear-mongering of politics and reached out to the people of Iran! Some people will tell you, this will amount to nothing. Don’t believe them, this is a changed world and it needs people like you! In last year’s anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, when the officials guided the crowds to say “Down with Israel!”people responded with “Down with China and Russia!” Not that they hate the Chinese or the Russian people. But they were saying, we have nothing against Israeli people. What we really dislike is the policy of these two superpowers who back dictators. Now with the aid of technology, people of the world can speak to each other! Here is the logo that Ronnie and Michal created:
Here is a young Israeli mom adopting the logo. Just think how many misunderstandings and fearful thoughts will be demolished with the power these two smiles. Let us get these smiles viral on the web. Please, please, please, share them:
I can’t believe this, I have tears in my eyes! It is almost shocking how no one thought of doing this before! Thank you Ronnie and Michal. Let us make a promise to each other on this Nowruz occasion. We will stand together for peace, not just between Iran and Israel, but everywhere in the world and won’t let anyone make us think this is naive. For all of you out there reading these words, please visit here, and on Iranian.com here to see who else adopted the logo. Of course, in Iran you must respond to an Eidi with an Eidi which brings me to my thank you gift to Ronnie, Michal and the people of Israel: a beatiful wedding picture of an Iranian Jewish couple and their relatives celebrating their union in Tehran’s historic synagogue:
And a Happy and humorous Nowruz song by the Iranian band Ajam to cap it all:
We Will Not Forget!
In all the Nowruz festivity and Eidi exchange, let us not forget those who cannot celebrate Nowruz in Iran because they are too poor:
An injustice which is distributed without gender discrimination:
And to political prisoners who have committed no crimes and whose charge is spreading “propaganda” against the Islamic Republic. Their families will have to spend the Nowruz with their pictures:
And below, I post one of Sanaz’s most recent creations, a bedroom. Acrylic on canvas, the work was a part of her art show in 2010 in Tehran
Have a great Nowruz wherever you are! Let us keep our messages of peace to each other going. Happy 1391 to you and yours!