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Happy Nowruz: The Persian/Zoroastrian Heritage Touches All Of Us

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Happy Nowruz:  The Persian/Zoroastrian Heritage Touches All Of Us

On March 21st, it will be the Persian New Year or Nowruz.  What is interesting about Nowruz, is that the holiday is of Zoroastrian heritage, but is widely celebrated in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and people under the influence of the ancient Persian Empire, such as the Kurds, Afghans, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Ossetians.  While the three Abrahamic faiths, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam believe in good and evil, through a God and a Devil, the Zoroastrians believe in the good god of light, Ahura Mazda, and the bad god of darkness, Ahriman.  As told in the Zoroastrian holy book, the Avesta.  The life of the founder, Zoroaster, has his life recited in  the"gathas" or hymns.  The priests of Zoroastrianism are the magis.  The magis are also astrologers and interpreters of dreams.  What was another name for the Three Wise Men at Christmas?  Magis.  For the Zoroastrians also believe that Ahura Mazda will send a messiah to Earth, who will be born during the darkness days of winter, and will be conceived by a virgin, who bathed in a lake  At Nowruz, a table is prepared with seven symbolic items on it:

A mirror.

Candles.

An apple.

Goldfish.

Rosewater.

Sprouts (wheat or barley).

Colored Eggs.

The Christian Easter custom of coloring eggs comes from Nowruz.  The egg represents the new life of spring after winter, and the colors represent the colors of the flowers of spring.  The name Easter comes from "Oester" the pagan German goddess of spring.  The Nowruz table resembles the Pesach seder, where six symbolic foods are served.  Two of them are eggs and spring greens.  Also, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is loaded with ossuaries, or stone boxes for placing the bones of the dead.  This Biblical custom came from Zoroastrianism, which believes that the earth is not to be contaminated by a decomposing body, so it is to be placed in a stone box or stone tower.  This is a far cry from Jewish burial practices today, where the body is to be placed in a decomposing container, so it and the body can decompose in the ground.  In Persia, why did Zoroastrianism lose ground to Islam?  Because the magis lived in opulent wealth aways from their followers.  The Three Wise Men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  When the Arabs conquered Persia, who the Persians considered barbarians, the mullahs were everyday normal people like they were.  So Islam steamrolled over Zoroastrianism, so that the Zoroastrians were confined to northwestern Persia, where they are today.  No bloody jihad of Islam, it was conversion.    The maharajah of Gujarat invited Zoroastrians in as traders.  The same way Jews were invited in as traders in earlier times.  Today, the second largest Zoroastrian community is in Mumbai (Bombay), where they are known as Parsis.  The Parsis of Mumbai own and operate the Tata Industries, which produces everything in India from tea bags to locomotives.  When the Nowurz table is laid out, or "Haft Sin" in Persian, it is accompanied by an Avesta, if you are Zoroastrian.  Qu'ran, if you are Muslim.  Torah, if you are Jewish.  Bible, if you are Christian.  That way everyone can participate in the Nowruz celebration.  It is a holiday of Persian/Zoroastrian origin, but it pertains to everybody.

HAPPY NOWRUZ

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Comment by Tim Upham on March 21, 2013 at 8:28pm

Haft S'In in Persian means "gather or pile up."  But the symbolism of the items on the Haft S'in are:

A mirror- Sky

Candles - Fire

An apple - Earth

Goldfish - Animals

Rosewater - Water

Sprouts - Plants

Colored Eggs - Fertility

But do you stop with the festivities, for Pesach starts right after that on March 25th.

Comment by Tim Upham on March 21, 2013 at 5:16pm

I am glad that you mentioned that, I forgot to do so.  The Bahai'is have their roots in Persia too.  The Islam there incorporated it.  When Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism spread they all adapted themselves to local cultures.  Especially, to look at Islam more on a factual basis, instead of a hysterical one.  As you know we have had people on this website, do just that.  But that way we can include other faiths, such as the Baha'is (They have a large shrine to the Bab in Haifa, you see it on the skyline, as you enter the city.)

Comment by Tim Upham on March 21, 2013 at 5:03am

The Zoroastrians are erroneously referred to as Fire Worshipers.  They do not worship fire, but fire represents Ahura Mazda, the good god of light.  When I was in the city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan, I went to a mosque, and you could go downstairs into the basement, and see it was once a Zoroastrian fire temple.  The Hindus will use fire in their prayers, and what fire does is carry the prayers up to the pantheon of Hindu deities.  In Judaism, lighting the Shabbat candles is a reminder of HaShem's divine presence, which differs from the fire that did burnt offerings in the Temple of Jerusalem.

 

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