Every year, we celebrate special festivals with our Jamat. On these days, we pray and recite devotional poetry. We give special greetings to our brothers and sisters in the Jamat, and we share with them the happiness of the festivals.
One of the festivals that we celebrate with the Jamat is Navroz. It usually falls on the 21st of March every year and marks the beginning of the Persian new year. It is also the time when spring begins in many countries.
Navroz is a time when we welcome the new year. We make a fresh start in our lives, just like new leaves, buds and flowers in spring. We look forward to the new year with the hope that it will be a happy one. The story that follows is about two children, Nargis and her brother Aziz, during the festival of Navroz.
Only one day remains before Navroz. Everyone is very busy in the home. Nargis and Aziz’s parents return home from the shops carrying presents for the children.
Nargis is making pastry in the kitchen. Next to her is Aziz, placing eggs in a bowl of coloured water. The family have been getting ready for Navroz for many weeks, and at last everything is finished. Now comes the part the children love best.
Mum and Dad place on the table seven things that begin with the letter “s” in Persian: apples, garlic, vinegar, coins, hyacinths, a sweet dish made of wheat, and a plate filled with green shoots of wheat.
Nargis arranges some eggs on a mirror, next to a bowl with goldfish. All these things are thought to bring good luck and happiness in the new year.
The day of Navroz arrives. It is bright and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky. The birds are singing, and the buds on the almond trees have just blossomed.
The moment comes when the old year ends and the new one begins. At this time, many families offer prayers and recite devotional poetry.
On Navroz day in Iran, people greet each other by saying “Eid-e shoma mobarak!” which means, “May your festival be blessed!” In parts of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, they say “Shogun Bahor Mubarak!” to convey happy and special greetings for springtime.
Later in the day, a big surprise awaits Nargis and Aziz. Their parents have brought them each a gift: new clothes and shoes that they have always wanted.
The children are delighted and hug their parents. It is time to have the first meal of the new year. There is sweet pastry, lamb, chicken, rice with saffron and herbs, and fresh fruit. Everyone has a hearty meal.
Some days later, the family go for a picnic.
Nargis says, “You know, Mum and Dad, I’ll miss the old year for some of the wonderful things that happened. We visited some new places for the first time, and I met my cousins. But some sad things happened as well. My best friend moved to another school.”
They smile at Nargis. “Inshallah, this new year will bring blessings for all of us”, he says. “And it may bring many nice surprises.”
This story has been adapted from Festivals and Celebrations - Ta’lim primary three, book two, published by The Institute of Ismaili Studies.