Friday December 15, 2017

Parsis celebrate Navroz, the New Year: A Resonance of History, Culture and Tradition

0
298

Navroz or Norooz, which translates to “New Day”, is the Persian New Year. The holiday, which dates back 3,000 years, is rooted in Zoroastrianism – an ancient Iranian religion that influenced later religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Navroz is considered one of the largest celebrations of the year associated with the Parsis.

President Pranab Mukherjee has extended his greetings on the eve of Parsi New Year and said that Navroz represents new beginnings. “Greetings and good wishes to all my Parsi brothers and sisters on the joyous occasion of Navroz,” he said in his message.

History of Navroz

Navroz is partly rooted in the religious tradition of Zoroastrianism or even in older tradition of Mitraism, the Mystery Religion practiced in Roman Empire from 1st to 4th centuries AD. Novroz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism, himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since the Achaemenid empire (550-330 BC), founded by Cyrus the Great, the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox, when the day and night are of equal length for the first time in Spring.

parsi-new-year-2

The Celebration

Before Navroz begins, on the last Wednesday before the New Year, Chahar Shanbe Suri is celebrated to cast away the misfortunes of the past year. Participants jump over bonfires with songs and gestures. A popular one, “Zardie man az to, sorkhie to az man,” translates to, “May my sickly pallor be yours and your red glow be mine.”

The phrase symbolizes trading in the color yellow, which represents sickness, to red, which is a sign of health.

A major part of the New Year celebration involves setting the “Haft Seen”, also known as the seven S’s. The traditional table setting includes seven items that all begin with the letter “seen” in the Persian alphabet. These seven things usually are – Seeb (apple), Sabzeh (green grass), Serkeh (vinegar), Samanoo (a meal made out of wheat), Senjed (a special kind of berry), Sekke (coin), and Seer (garlic).

White_house_haft_seen

At the exact moment of the New Year, known as Tahvil, families hug and kiss each other, wishing one another a happy new year. Cash, coins and gold are given as gifts – usually by the adults to the children.

On the 13th day of the Parsi New year, i.e the 13th day from the equinox, known as Sizdah Bedar, it’s typical for families to spend the day outside. Iranians are known to go to parks for a picnic, since it is believed that remaining outdoors will help one avoid misfortune. Another tradition involves throwing green sprouts into rivers and lakes to symbolize the rebirth of plants and the end of the New Year festivities.

Next Story

Parsi Community in India and What makes them Distinct from Others

10 Interesting facts about the Parsi Community in India

0
75
A Parsi Community wedding ritual
A Parsi Community wedding ritual. Wikimedia
  • Parsi’s came from Faras, Persia, more than a thousand years ago
  • The reason of decreasing population is due to migration, declining fertility rate and late marriage
  • The religion Zoroastrianism was founded 3,500 years ago in ancient Iran by Prophet Zoroaster

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: The Parsi’s are an immigrant community, they are of Zoroastrian faith. Parsi Community came from Faras, Persia, more than a thousand years ago and are now located in Mumbai, India. They are mostly settled in old Mumbai but in recent times, they have settled in major cities and towns in India. Some of them are also found in countries like United States, Canada, England, and Pakistan.

In 1901 the Parsi population in India was around 93,952; in 1976 it was around 82,000   and in 2014 it fell down to 60,000. Since then the population has been decreasing. The reason of decreasing population is due to migration, declining fertility rate and late marriage.

ALSO READ: The decreasing number of Parsis in India and their concerns

Some of the holy Parsi festivals are Nowroz (New Year’s Day), Frawardigan (commemorating the dead souls), Pateti (the day of confession and repentance). Some of the famous Parsi people in India are Scientist Homi Jehangir Bhabha, Businessman JRD Tata, India’s first Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, Former Chairman Tata Sons Ratan Naval Tata, Bollywood Actor Boman Irani, among others. Parsi community makes up a very crucial community of India despite their presence in small numbers.  Here are 10 interesting facts about them:

  • The native language of Parsi’s is Avestan but they also speak Gujarati or English. The religion Zoroastrianism was founded 3,500 years ago in ancient Iran by Prophet Zoroaster. There is a collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism known as the Avesta. Some of their religious literature is in Pahlavi (it’s an Aramaic-based writing system used in Persia from the 2nd Century BC to the advent of Islam in 7th Century AD).
  • Birth of a Parsi child is followed by a ritual bath, a cleansing prayer, sacred items are given to him/her. The main priest conducts prayers and formally invites him/her in the community and religion.
  • Parsi’s don’t usually bury or cremate dead bodies; they leave the body so vultures can feast on it. They do this as they don’t believe in polluting air or land. It is done at a place called Dakhmas or ‘Tower of silence’. They began using electronic crematorium after there was a decline in the number of vultures after 1990.
  • The Parsi’s had to face a struggle period of 200 years when they rebelled against the Arab invaders in Iran (their home country earlier). It was called the period of silence. In order to retain their regional and cultural identity, they ran from Iran as the Arab conquered it and took refuge in Gujrat, India from 8th to 10th Century AD. Some of them later migrated to parts of Mumbai.
  • Qissa- i Sanjan is the account of the early years of Parsi settlement in India.

Also Read: Parsi community lauded for role in nation-building

  • The Parsi Community believes in the existence of one invisible God. Atash Behram (victorious fire) which is located in the fire temple is of prime importance to them. There are total 9 Atash Behram in the world, out of which 8 are located in the western India and one is located in central Iran. The Udvada Atash Behram is the oldest Zoroastrian temple and the continuously burning fire temple in the world.
  • Male-Female Ratio of Parsi Community is different than others; they have more females and lesser males. As per 2001 Census, 1050 females per 1000 males which are more than India’s average of 933 females.
  • To solve the problem of declining Parsi community in India, Jiyo Parsi Scheme was launched on 24 September 2013. It was a government supported the initiative.
  • Some say that by 2020 the Parsi population will decrease to 23,000 and this can take away from them the tag ‘community’ and can label them as tribals instead.
  • The Parsi Community has the highest literacy rate in India among any Indian communities which is 97.9% as per 2001 census.

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
Click here- www.newsgram.com/donate

 

Next Story

A Fiji University Celebrates ‘Hindi Diwas’ with Focus on History of Girmit Laborers

On the day of the popular ‘Hindi Diwas’, that is celebrated to honor and promote both the Hindi-speaking community of the world and the national language of India- Hindi; an amazing program was held in the University of the South Pacific

0
336
Trinidad and Tobago
Indentured Laborers taken from India. Wikimedia
  • The Girmitiyas’ descendants spread up through the passage of time to influence the Fijian culture and politics
  • On  ‘Hindi Diwas’, that is celebrated to honor and promote the national language of India- Hindi; an amazing program was held at the University of the South Pacific.
  • The program included a Hindi essay competition and a movie screening, both focussed on the history of the Girmit Laborers

Sept 30, 2016: The relation of the Indians with Fiji goes long back to the time of 1879. That was the year when the British colonialists took the contracted laborers from across India, transporting a huge section of the population to Fiji archipelago. On 14th May 1879, a ship named ‘Leonidas’ arrived with indentured laborers from India to Fiji and that system of bringing laborers got popularized as “Girmits”; coined from the mispronounced term ‘agreement’ by the laborers who didn’t speak English.

The Girmits are the foundation of the Indo-Fijian history. After the agreements of the laborers had ended and the long-term torment of them was over, they had to stay back in Fiji following circumstances. From 1879 to 1916, Fiji saw the arrival of some 60,600 Girmitiyas through almost 87 voyages. After the end of the “girmit” contract period, their gradual settlement included the economical rise and the elevation of Indian culture, food, education, traditions began to flow.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

The multiple obstacles that the Girmitiyas had to face strengthened their fight and political participation of the Indians got gradually accepted. The Girmitiyas’ descendants spread up through the passage of time to influence the Fijian culture and politics.

To remain affixed to the culture, the Indians in Fiji have been putting constant efforts by celebrating cultural events and building temples as a sacred venue for holding matrimonial ceremonies. The ‘Arya Samaj’ in Fiji is a body that promotes Hinduism.

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

One of the most major aspects that the intermingling of the Indo-Fiji culture holds the record of is the language. A new lingo was evolved through the multiple generations of the Indians who had settled in Fiji.

On the day of the popular ‘Hindi Diwas’, that is celebrated to honor and promote both the Hindi-speaking community of the world and the national language of India- Hindi; an amazing program was held at the University of the South Pacific. The program included a Hindi essay competition on the topic- ‘Girmit History’ as reported by Vishvas Sapkal, the high commissioner of India to Fiji. This also followed an award ceremony and Ms. Ranjini Raj won a trip to India of 25 days long.

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram. 

University of South Pacific. Wikipedia
The university of South Pacific. Wikimedia

Apart from that, a movie based on Girmit history by Dr. Mohit Prasad was also screened on the program. The movie is named ‘A for Apple’ and it received huge applause.

Hindi Diwas was celebrated with pomp and vigor at the University of South Pacific and as per the schedule, it started the celebration from 25th of September 2016.

– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

Next Story

Ten Special Indian Sweets to Satisfy your Sweet-tooth this Diwali

Any Indian festival can not be complete wihout having sweets and Diwali, one of the nationwide celebrated festival, also has some of its very own special delicacies

1
429
Diwali sweets. Source: Wikimedia common
  • Diwali is a popular and much celebrated Indian festival
  • Just like any Indian celebration, Diwali is incomplete without people eating sweets
  • Some special sweets mark the celebration and are famous for their tastes

Sept 18, 2016: The ancient celebration of Diwali sees the country dazzling with the glow of illuminating lights. As any happy occasion in India remains incomplete without people gorging into galore of desserts; the Diwali too will lose its glory without varieties of sweets and desserts to spread joy and love with.

Here are listed ten famous Indian Diwali sweets to satiate the sweet tooth of India:-

  • Ladoo

Prepared with various ingredients and base materials like gram flour, coconuts etcetera; Ladoos have been famous and one of the most loved sweets of all time. This can be of multiple types which include Besan (gram flour), Motichur (gram flour), and coconut ladoo and so on.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

  • Kaju katli

Made with pasted cashew nuts, Kaju Katli is a huge show-stealer during the Diwali.

  • Gulab Jamun

Fried Khoya (dried whole milk, thickened by heating) balls are dipped and soaked in sugar syrup to prepare the lip-smacking Gulab Jamuns which are a huge hit in the celebration.

  • Soan Papdi

The flaky Indian dessert Soan Papdi or the Sohan Halwa, made from gram flour, sugar and ghee (clarified butter), is another popular giveaway on Diwali.

  • Halwa

Diwali will lose its flavor without Halwa. Made from different ingredients it can be of various types like Gajar (carrots) Halwa, Shuji Halwa (semolina pudding), Badam (almond) Halwa etcetera.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

  • Shrikhand

Shrikhand is another popular Diwali delicacy made with sugar and plain thick yogurt and flavored and garnished with saffron, cardamom and nuts.

  • Jalebi
Jalebi. Source: Wikimedia common
Jalebi. Source: Wikimedia common

The circular or pretzel shaped Jalebis, made from deep fried and sugar-soaked wheat-flour batter, are one of the mouth watering treats in Diwali.

  • Rabdi

Pearl millet flour mixed well with buttermilk and boiled to make the delicious Rabdi. Both the look and the taste are a huge hit.

  • Peda

Another popular Diwali dessert is the Peda, made from thickened dried-whole milk, sugar and cardamom.

  • Gujiya

Prepared from flour, sugar, dried whole milk, clarified milk, nuts etcetera according to different regions; Gujiya is a mouth watering treat on Diwali.

Lighting a “diya” (lamp) illuminates the homes and the souls. The sweets brighten our hearts and keep Diwali from turning insipid.

– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC