Navroz or the Persian New Year of the Parsi community in India is one of the prominent festivals for the folks following the Zoroastrian faith and is celebrated with much fanfare.
Falling on August 17 this year, the festival is known to have been celebrated for over 3 millennia and literally means ‘new day’.
Also known as Jamshed-i-Nouroz, named after the greatest king in Persian folklore, the festival is celebrated to attain good health, wealth and prosperity.
Synonymous with four Fs—Fire, Fragrance, Food and Friendship, Navroz brings families together through food and the exchange of gifts.
The day is also believed to be one of remittance for the community from evil deeds and thoughts and of atonement for the sins of the past year.
Interestingly, the festival in India and Pakistan is observed 200 days after it is celebrated in the rest of the world, thanks to the different calendars followed by various groups within the Zoroastrian faith. India, actually, has the largest single community Zoroastrians in the world.
While the more commonly followed Iranian calendar observes the Persian New Year on the spring equinox, the Shahenshahi calendar followed by Indians doesn’t include leap years and hence the difference in dates.
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The festivities start on the eve of the New Year itself, known as Pateti. Homes are decorated with colourful rangolis and torans (flower garlands) swings.
Another tradition in the community is the display of auspicious things. Symbolising prosperity and longevity, articles like sacred books, candles, mirror, an image of Zarathustra, incense sticks, fruits, flowers, coins, sugar and a goldfish bowl are bedecked on a table – as part of the custom.
Dressing up in their traditional best, people make a customary visit to the fire temples, also known as Agiary, and make offerings of fruits, sandalwood, milk and flowers to the fire.
Starting the day with a breakfast of sweet sev (vermicelli) along with with sweet dahi (curd), it is the lunch that boasts of an extensive spread of delectable Parsi cuisine.
Delicacies like Prawn Patio, Mori Dar, Patra Ni Macchi, Haleem, Akoori, Falooda, Ambakalya, Dhansak, Ravo, Sali Boti and Saffron Pulao are specially prepared on this day.
We wish the Parsi Community a Happy Navroz and a great year ahead!