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Philosophy of Nowruz Festival in Ancient Persia(Part 4)

nowruz

Nowruz is the most ancient national custom in the world that has remained to the day and it is one of the best factors for continuation of the culture originally established by the Iranians (southern Aryans).
There are different viewpoints about the origin of Nowruz. Some historians believe that the Aryan emigrants held two festivals of Nowruz and Mehregan marking the beginning of each half of the year, i.e. Nowruz festival was observed during summer change and Mehregan festival was observed during winter change.

Other historians believe that the two festivals were observed by some tribes and religions in ancient Persia before the advent of the Aryans. At any rate, Iranians celebrate Nowruz as an ancient festival. Although it has undergone drastic changes in the course of thousands of years, Nowruz has never sunk into oblivion and it has been approved by all tribes, religions and governments in the land of Iran.

In his book, Kitab al-Athar al-Baqiyah `an al-Qurun al-Khaliyah (Chronology of Ancient Nations, also known as Vestiges of the Past), Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni’s (d. 1048) writes: “The year fell into four seasons among the Persians … They celebrated festivals based on these seasons but neglecting the leap years, the days of these festivals underwent some changes. One of these festivals was Nowruz celebrated on the first day of the month of Farvardin. Apparently the first five days of the year was called “Nowruz Ammeh” or the general Nowruz or public festival and “Nowruz Khasseh” or special Nowruz that was special to the kings and the elite.
Great dynasties in Iran namely Samanids, Deylamites, Aale Ziyad and Safavids showed profound interest in safeguarding national rites and rituals and festivals. During Nowruz celebrations they observed rites and rituals according to the traditions of their forefathers. Observing Nowruz celebrations during Safavid rule is worthy of attention, particularly based on the traditions presented by such great narrators or transmitters of traditions as Allameh Majlesi. It seems that Nowruz had found an Islamic nature in Safavid period, like the contemporary age and it was difficult to make a distinction between ancient and Islamic elements in this glorious festival.
Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi


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