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How Kashmiris Celebrate Nowruz, The Persian New Year

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Nowruz (new day), the Iranian and Persian new year is a day of global observance and is celebrated across the world With great enthusiasm on 21st of March each Year. This is considered as the day that marks the first day of the spring and renewal of nature. Apart from marking the first day of spring, Nowruz promotes peace and solidarity in families. It’s a day that promotes friendship and love among people and different communities.

Nowruz is often called the Persian New Year and is closely associated with the Islamic Republic Of Iran. But it is marked and celebrated across many countries, including India, Afghanistan, and Central and Southern Asia, among Kurds across the Middle East and even in parts of the Balkans and on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. Nowruz has a great significance in Islam as well, and as per Shia school of thought, this day occupies an important place both spiritually and culturally.

As Quoted in Bihar_Al_Anwar Book Our 6th Light of guidance, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) told about the importance of this day as 1.“The sun attained its brightness2. The wind started to blow. The Ark of Prophet Nuh a.s. stopped near Mount Judi (near Najaf in Iraq) and was saved from drowning. Prophet Ibrahim a.s. broke the idols of his community. Angel Jibrael brought the first revelation to our Holy Prophet s.a.w.w.6.The Holy Prophet s.a.w. lifted Imam Ali a.s. on his shoulders for removing the idols from the Kaa’ba7. Our 12th Imam will reappear and hang Dajjal in a place known as Kinasa in Kufa on this day of Nawroz holds traditional and cultural significance for the people in Kashmir especially for our Shia community”.

In Kashmir, Nawruz is celebrated with great enthusiasm and in a traditional way to symbolize the rebirth of nature in different parts of the world. On this day the youth from Shia community join hands together in planting a maximum possible number of trees, massive plantation drives are been organized across the valley for preserving the rapidly deteriorating environment. Besides planting new tree saplings, people of Kashmir throng to practitioners of leech therapy, as it is believed that leech therapy is much more effective on this day. Many people consider leech therapy as a better alternative to pharmacological treatments. This traditional method of curing diseases is still thriving in Kashmir.

People wear new clothes & new dresses and go to the mosque to pray. Worshipers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace and love after the congregational prayers are over. The celebrations also include customary cooking of delicacies before holding of family feasts. People love to cook different dishes including Kashmiri famous Nadru and other Wazwaan Dishes. This day is celebrated with fun and frolic in the valley and Muslims wish their families and friends.

People are also seen playing Kabbadi and other games especially in rural areas of the valley. Besides sharing greetings and love with each other, one of the main customs of Nowruz is to exchange house visits during which guests are served tea, pastries, meals, and fruits. People on this day share sweets, dry fruits including walnuts and candies with their neighbor’s and relatives. They also, exchange gifts and money to congratulate each other on the advent of this blessed day. All families celebrating this great day in Kashmir spend weeks leading up to Nowruz cleaning their homes and doing repair works.

The not so good part of all this that I experienced is that despite knowing they have limited resources, people end up spending thousands of rupees on this festival just for the sake of pomp and show. Wasting food is neither part of Islam nor does it bode well with the spirit of any festival, rather these kinds of acts are highly discouraged. The celebrations have a symbolic attachment to them and cannot be complete until you give away two third of it to poor and needy people.

So the essence of this blessed day of Nawruz is to support and help needy and poor people, remember family and seek forgiveness and blessing through it. Also, the best way to make our almighty Allah happy is to save a little amount on this day and use this amount in the education of our children.

The UN’s General Assembly also recognized the International Day of Nowruz in 2010, describing it as a spring festival of Iranian origin, which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. Also in 2009, it was officially added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. On this special day, we pray to almighty Allah, “Oh our Lord, Please shower Your blessings of joy and happiness to whole of the mankind especially to the people of Kashmir, Palestine,Yemen who have been witnessing- turmoil, tyranny, oppression, innocent killings of children and their families, pain, depression, afflictions, atrocities from many decades”.

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