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FESTIVAL OF Jamshed-I-Navroz

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JAMSHED-I-NAVROZ is the New Year's day for the Parsi community in India and is celebrated on the 21st of March, on which falls the vernal equinox of the sun and the season of spring commences. It is the beginning of the period when all the trees are in full bloom and wear the look of greenery. It heralds the advent of spring, bright sunshine thus bidding farewell to the cold season..

How did it come about?

 Over 3000 years ago Shah Jamshed of the Peshadian dynasty ascended the throne on "NAVROZE" - nav meaning new and roze meaning day. It was the day of the Equinox - a day when light and darkness stand equal on the scale of space and time when the length of the day equals that of the night. That particular day came to be known as Jamshed Navroz and is celebrated even in modern times with lot of feasting.

The Parsis follow the Falsi calendar. This celebration goes back to the time of the King of ancient Persia, Jamshed, who introduced the solar calendar and is also believed to have first made wine.

Today it is celebrated by the Parsis who wear new clothes and visit the fire-temples making offerings of sandalwood.

Although quite westernized in their life styles, Parsis are traditionally rigid in thoughts. So they observe all the rituals, prayers and modes of greetings as laid down in their religion for celebrating NAVROZ which is their New year. The New 

It is said that Jamshed was a great king and cared for the welfare of his subjects. Though there were no clocks to measure time, the King sought the help of the great astronomers and mathematicians of his day who devised a calendar which was known as the "Tacquim-e-Nowrooze-e-Sheheriyari". The King accordingly decided that Navroze or the New Year would start on the Vernal Equinox when night and day were of equal durations.

The Parsi community fled from Persia 1200 years ago and migrated to India to escape Muslim and Arab persecution. They settled down on the Western coast of India mainly Gujarat and Bombay.

The Parsis are divided into three sects - the Faslis, the Kadims and the Sehensahis. Of these, the Faslis observe Navroze (Jamshedi Navroze) as the only New Year proclaimed by King Jamshedi, on the first day of the Spring. The other two sects observe two new years, one being Jamshedi Navroze and the other being the anniversary of the day they landed in India. Some customs have changed having mingled with the locals but their tradition still remains.

How to celebrate the Parsi New Year? 

Watch a clip from ANI - 

Men, women and even children wake up early, bath and dress up in new clothes. They decorate the threshold and steps of their houses with rangoli, light incense sticks and sprinkle sandalwood powder on live coals, kept in a censor. All this not only is auspicious but also is meant to purify the air.

 Food plays a very important role as a significant part of all Parsi festivals. Parsi food is a delicious blend of West Indian and Indian cuisine. Parsis being non-vegetarian, fish, mutton, chicken, nuts, spices and fruits are bought a day before and a variety of dishes are prepared for the following day of Navroz.

Parsi New Year - Festival Foods  

For breakfast on the day of Navroz two special dishes are served. 

RAVO 

"Ravo" made with Suji, milk and sugar and the other is fried vermicelli cooked in sugar syrup and sprinkled with raisins and lot of almond slivers. 

2 tablespoons melted butter or ghee
2 tablespoons semolina (sooji)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon mixed cardamom and nutmeg powder.
15 almonds, blanched and finely sliced.
Heat butter or ghee and add semolina.  Cook, stirring, till the semolina is slightly pale gold in color. Add sugar and milk and keep stirring till mixture thickens. Pour into a shallow dish or pie plate and allow to cool and set. Sprinkle with powdered cardamom and nutmeg, raisins and almonds and serve.

After breakfast all the family members go to the nearest Fire Temple or Agiary as it is called. In the temple a "JASHAN" - a thanks giving prayer is performed by the priest and each one of the assembled gathering offers sandalwood to the Holy Fire. As per the Parsi custom everyone has to cover their heads while praying inside the temple. Children put on caps of gold or silver brocade, men put on black velvet caps and the women pull their sari pallus over their heads. After the "Jashan" ceremony all people greet each other by saying "Sal Mubarak".

 Lunch consists of Pulav, rich with nuts and saffron, fish in green masala, dhanshaak and spicy chicken curries. In Parsi community besides all the delicacies, cooking plain rice and moong dal is a "must" on this Navroz day. Food packets and clothes are handed over to the poor Parsi families by the children of the family. Parsi children are thus taught to give and share with others.

Throughout the day on this festival of Navroz, there is much visiting of friends and relatives. Every visitor is offered some sweet and a glass of "falooda" - a sweet and chilled vermicelli and flavored with rose essence. In all Parsi homes a silver tray is kept ready with roses, coconuts and kumkum for `tilak'. Rose water is freely sprayed on every visitor as he enters.

This is the time of  rituals, prayers, greetings, exchanging, gifts, decorating and beautifying the houses.

 

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