The Parsi New Year, known as Navroz or Nowruz, is a festive occasion observed between the months of July and August. This year, Parsi New Year falls on August 16th. Rooted in the Persian terms ‘Nav’ and ‘Roz,’ meaning ‘new day,’ this beloved festival boasts a history spanning over 3,000 years.
The Origins of the Parsi New Year
While the global observance of Navroz corresponds with the Spring Equinox on March 21st, the Parsi community in India follows the Shahenshahi calendar. This distinctive calendar doesn’t incorporate leap years, leading to a celebration shift of 200 days from the original date.
Historical and Cultural Significance
The festival’s origins are intertwined with Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic beliefs. Its inception dates back more than 3,500 years in ancient Iran when a sage named Prophet Zarathustra introduced this faith. The era of Zoroastrianism thrived until the advent of Islam around 1,400 years ago during the 7th century. This transformative event prompted many Zoroastrians to leave Iran and seek refuge in India and Pakistan. In these new lands, the Parsi community emerged, providing a safe haven for these individuals.
The festival’s inception narrative traces back to the legendary King Jamshed, who saved the world from a devastating winter that posed a threat of annihilation.
Observing the Parsi New Year
The largest Parsi community in India resides in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, rendering Parsis the most prominent single group within the nation.
On this day, individuals offer prayers for well-being and prosperity. They dedicate the day to cleaning their homes and embellishing them with flowers and intricate rangoli designs. Clad in traditional attire, they visit the fire temple, or ‘Agiary,’ where they present offerings of milk, flowers, fruits, and sandalwood to the sacred fire.
The festivities center around the Four Fs—fire, fragrance, food, and friendship. The occasion involves savoring delectable Parsi cuisine, seeking forgiveness for past transgressions, purifying the mind, and embarking on the new year with love and harmony.
Parsi culinary delights such as Prawn Patio, Mori Dar, Patra Ni Macchi, Haleem, Akoori, Sali Boti, Saffron Pulao, and Falooda grace the festive table. To make their tables special, Parsis adorn them with decorations and meaningful items like a sacred book, a mirror, fragrant incense sticks, fruits, beautiful flowers, gleaming coins, candles, a bowl containing a goldfish, and an image of Zarathustra.