Persians Among Those Preparing For 13-Day New Year Celebration

The seven elements of the Norooz table are laid out on a special table at Masjid-e-Ali Mosque.

This week marks the beginning of the 13-day celebration of Norooz, the Persian New Year, a time of visitation and celebration shared by a variety of cultures.

The start date of the Persian year 1395 coincides with the vernal, or Spring, equinox, which this year occurs at precisely 6:28:40 a.m. on March 20.

Calling it the Persian, or Iranian, New Year is a bit misleading, as the celebration is observed by other cultures as well, including the Tajik, Afghani, Uzbekis, Kurds and Turks. Although its celebrated by a variety of cultures, the basic observation remains consistent.

An example of that was set up at the Masjid-e-Ali Mosque on Cedar Grove Lane.

In the mosque’s lobby is a table set with the traditional seven elements of Norooz – or Nawruz – known as the sofre haft-seen, said Mitra Borhani, the mosque’s librarian. The name of each of the seven elements on the table begin with the Persian letter “c” or “seen.”

Seven is a sacred number in the Persian culture, she said, “and each of these ‘seen’ represents a very significant thing.”

On the table is:

  • Seeb, or apples, which represent health and beauty
  • Sabzeh, or sprouts, which represent rebirth
  • Samanoo, a pudding which represents the sophistication of Iranian cooking and patience; the pudding is made of wheat germ and flour and takes about 14 hours to cook.
  • Senjed, which is the fruit of the Lotus tree, and represents love
  • Somaq, which are sumac berries and which represent the color of the sun
  • Serkeh, or vinegar, which represents age and patience.

There are other elements that may be placed on the table, Borhani said. On the mosque’s table is a live goldfish in a bowl, which, she said, represents life; a mirror, which represents reflection and candles, which represent light.

There is also a holy book or a book of poetry on the tables, she said.

Also usually on the table is a bowl of colored eggs – much like Easter eggs – which represent birth, she said.

“Some people also put sweets on the table, and also there are the Hyacinths, which have a great fragrance,” she said.

Celebrants use the first 12 days to visit friends and relatives, usually starting with the eldest, she said.

“The elders will wait a few days and then visit the youngsters,” she said. “People are in their houses waiting for guests to arrive. The guests know they have a very short visit because they have to go to another house.”

Gifts are sometimes given, usually to children, she said.

Sometimes, Borhani said, elders will place paper money in the pages of the holy boo, and tell the children to look through until they find one.

On the 13th day, huge picnics are held, she said.

“Everybody feels they shouldn’t stay home on the thirteenth day,” she said. “They have a picnic, and have fun. They usually throw their (sabzeh) sprouts in the running water, like a river or lake.”

The practice dates back centuries, according to an information sheet at the mosque.

“Norooz is based around the idea of the triumph of good over evil,” according to the sheet.

At its March 15 meeting, the Township Council issued a proclamation proclaiming March 20 as “Nawruz Day.”

2017 Persian New Year At Masjid-e-Ali


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