The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
An Outline on Noruz & Iranians
Dr David N. Rahni
Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav
The Noruz (Norooz, Nowruz, Nevruz, Newruz, Navruz) Festival is immortalized in the Decree of Cyrus the Great, founder of the second Iranian dynasty, the Achaemenid Empire, granting national, cultural and religious freedoms to the peoples of the conquered lands, from Babylon and beyond in 542 BCE.
"When I entered Babylon (on Noruz) and other lands I conquered, I
did not allow anyone to terrorize the land or its people... I kept in view
the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being.
The citizens of Babylon... I lifted their unbecoming yoke (slavery). Their
dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes."
...Thus said the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have
beholden (Isaiah, XLV-1-3).
Noruz, the new day in Persian, is the cyclical
celebration of the Spring Equinox. Instituted by the Zoroastrians well
over 3800 years ago, and it is the most cherished and celebrated of all
Iranian festivals; - it has been observed by all peoples of the broad
Iranian world for millennia.
the periodic rebirth and
rejuvenation of nature, and has been observed in one form or another by
all the major cultures that came in touch with Iranian culture, known as
the Noruz holidays, families and friends visit each other, pay their
respect to the elderly, reach out and reconcile with adversaries, visit
the resting places of the deceased, and make gifts to the impoverished and
the sick. They give and receive presents during the thirteen day period
that ends on April 1st (April fool's day) when everyone spends the whole
day in the country dancing, singing and playing. The commemoration of Noruz
recalls the seventh day of creation, when homage is paid to the Creator or
Mother Nature, with rest, play and party activities.
inscription on Persepolis Palace, the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE) ceremonial capital,
depicts the Darius the Great, accepting gifts from diverse subjects who
lived in Persian territories, stretching from India to Europe and
North Africa. Cyrus the Great, the founder of the empire is cited as the
world's first true supreme emperor who ruled his vast realm with
compassion and justice, a legacy acknowledged by the Greek historian
Herodotus. His declaration of Human Rights on a clay cylinder, known as Cyrus
Cylinder is kept at the British Museum.
"The very venerable appearance of this historical ruin instantly awed me. I found I had no right conception of it. I sat for near an hour on the steps contemplating it until the moon rose on it, and I began to think that this, in reality, must be the tomb of the best, the most illustrious, and the most interesting of Oriental sovereigns."
The name Iran is derived from the ancient Iranian genitive plural aryanam, meaning, The Land of the Aryans.
In Choga Zanbil, a
"ziggurat" or sacred city multi-level high rise urban structure,
built by the Elamite king Untash-Gal around 1250 BCE, substantiates the
vast contributions of these inhabitants. Going further back, one can
discern the existence of organized tribes of hunters/gatherers in
northwestern Iran dating as back as 12,000 years ago. There have been a
plethora of discoveries of early successive settlements built atop one
another. These have been excavated in northwestern Iran's Godin Tepe, a
region dating back to at least 8,000 years ago. Iran has been a unified
cultural and historical entity for at least 2500 years.
In recent times, although there have been sporadic numbers of Iranians who have immigrated to Europe and North America starting in the 19th century, a mass exodus has occurred since 1979 revolution due to the Islamic regime excessive force, oppression and political turmoil in Iran. Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Islamic regime, made no secret of his contempt for the non-Muslim dimensions of Iranian life, and claimed that the evolution was not for Iran but for Islam. He branded the observance and celebration of ‘Noruz’ and other Persian feasts and ceremonies to be reactionary and anti-revolutionary, which should be replaced with Arabic and Islamic ones -- but as popular as he was in those early days of the revolution, the Iranian public's backlash against his stance on Iranian New Year.
Page Keywords: Noruz, Newrooz, Newruz, Navruz, Nowrooz, Nowruz, Vernal Equinox, New Year, نوروز جمشيدي
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