This is Iran in Nowruz, the most significant national holiday that marks the arrival of a new solar year. It embodies ancient rites and customs not confined to a certain religious or ethnic group.
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Narration: A new day; a new beginning … This is Iran in Nowruz, the most significant national holiday that marks the arrival of spring and a new solar year. Nowruz is in celebration of the sun as it regains strength to overcome winter’s cold and darkness; when nature begins to blossom once again.
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Local Citizen of Tehran: “In Nowruz everything is so colorful and beautiful that all Iranian always like it and hold it the best way.”
Narration: Nowruz embodies a wealth of ancient rites and customs not confined to the traditions of a certain religious or ethnic group. Nowruz provides Iranian families with the opportunity to visit holy shrines, to see each other, and to remember those who are no longer among them.
In his long epic poem Shahnameh, the 10th century Iranian poet Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi describes the origin of Nowruz: When the legendary Iranian king, Jamshid Jam, conquered the world and ascended to the throne, he declared that day as Nowruz and the beginning of the Iranian New Year, which coincided with the first day of spring. Nowruz is not simply a source of honor for those who celebrate it, but an occasion for the congregation and solidarity of all the peace-loving nations around the world.
To welcome the New Year, Iranian families go on a set of ceremonial duties; it all begins with an annual spring cleaning of their homes.
Setting the “Haft-Seen” table is also a quintessential part of the New Year celebrations. The Haft-Seen table is named so because there are seven items on this table whose names start with the Persian letter “seen”. These items represent concepts all related to health and happiness.
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Local Citizen of Tehran: “The apple, for example, represents liveliness, the samanu (a kind of pudding) represents the sweetness of life, the vinegar has its own benefits, and the sprout represents mirth.”
Narration: During Nowruz, Iranians meet members of their families. In such meetings, they entertain each other with open arms and delicious traditional cuisine and refreshments. The senior members of the family give the younger members cash presents which are kept as a token of blessing and wellbeing.
SOUNDBITE [English] Little Girl: “In Iran's new year, people wants to see their families, take something named Eidi from them that is money, sometime 500 tomans, something like this.”
SOUNDBITE [English] Chinese Woman: “The Iranian people ... you know bonding of the families, people gathering together and unification, it's very similar to Chinese traditions, actually, and we like it. Everywhere we go, we see families travelling together visiting museums. I think that Iranians loves very much about family bonding and it's a very nice feeling when we see that.”
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SOUNDBITE [English] Chinese Woman: “You see so many people, family members gathering together, going to the museum and celebrating their country and their history together. so that is something very unique here.”
Narration: The thirteenth day which is the closing ceremony to the New Year festival is all spent outdoors. It is a day of festivities in nature.
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Young girl: “The thirteenth day stems in ancient times. Since my childhood and since I can remember, all members of the family have been together on this day. We go outside for sure, and there is a tradition that we throw the sprouts away and knot sprouts. By and large, since I can remember, I always do it. In all weathers, we go out and do it.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Iranian man: “We celebrate the day of nature, commemorating the late members of the family who used to take us children out and walk us in nature. In their memories, we gather together, have fun and enjoy nature.”
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Little boy: “It's the thirteenth days and here is Pardisan Park. We've come here with the family for a picnic. We're going to have lunch with grandma and grandpa as well as mom and dad”
Narration: Nowruz is not simply an ordinary event of celebration and rejoicing or just a national custom. Rather it is an interregional tradition which dates back to some 3,000 years ago and connects people of different ethnic, lingual and national backgrounds. In February 2010, Nowruz was registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The same year, the UN General Assembly recognized March 21 as the International Day of Nowruz.
SOUNDBITE [English] Hossein Gharibi, Councilor of Iranian Mission to UN: “Nowruz, the day of Vernal Equinox is celebrated at the beginning of the New Year by more than 300 million people all around the world, and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Bastion, the Caucuses, Central Asia, the Middle East, and other regions.”
Narration: As part of the cultural heritage, Nowruz promotes reconciliation and neighborliness, contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and different communities.
SOUNDBITE [English] Dr.Ingrid Schindlbeck: “The Nowruz festival is a wonderful occasion to cooperate with many different countries, even with people of different religions because the basic idea of the Nowruz festival is to reconcile”
Narration: The international celebration of Nowruz in recent years can help Iran utilize its potentials even in foreign diplomacy. Many countries in the region that became independent after the dissolution of the Soviet Union belong to the Iranian civilization zone and share historical and cultural ties with Iran.
SOUNDBITE [English] Gholamali Khoshroo, Iran Ambassador to UN: “At a time when we all recognize that the sense of solidarity can greatly contribute to our efforts in dealing with challenges of our time, Nowruz provides a wide network of cultural and social bonds to reinforce such solidarity.”
Narration: In fact, Nowruz is a powerful instrument of cultural diplomacy and soft power that can play a major role in bringing the nations of this geographical area closer to each other. It can also promote peace and friendship in a region which has long experienced political turmoil and turbulence.
SOUNDBITE [English] Hossein Dehghani, Iran Ambassador to UN: “Nowruz transcends all ethnic and religious borders, as it is celebrated in Iran and elsewhere, by hundreds of millions of diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds, thus emphasizing the common humanity that we share.”
Narration: Nowruz is a unique occasion that not only builds deeper communal links and relations between people, but also promotes the cultural bonds between all the nations that observe it.