Jamshedi Navroze: Parsis welcome the Spring

Jamshedi Navroze is one of the three main festive days in the Parsi Calendar. The others being Parsi New year in August and Khordad Saal, the birthday of Zarathustra.

Navroze falls on March 21st, which is also Spring Equinox. It is celebrated the world over in various manifestations. It heralds the coming of Spring. In Iran it is celebrated as a ten day celebration and is the one Zoroastrian festival celebrated in an otherwise Islamic country.

In India, it is another day for us Bawas to party and eat and drink….as if we ever need a reason. Since it is not a public holiday, most celebrations are reserved for the evening.

Over time, the festival has sometimes been labelled “Jamshedji” navroze, which is a misnomer. It is Jamshedi Navroze, after the ancient Sassanian King Jamshed, who proclaimed the day as the start of the ancient Persian Calendar.

Navroze is one of the oldest known festivals of the Parsis. Firdausi, in his Shah Namesh, Book of Kings, attributes its origin to the legendary King of Persia, Jamshed son of Tehmooraz of the Peshdadian dynasty in Iran. Persia was ruled by many dynasties, the last being the Zoroastrians. 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. {…link…}

The rituals of the day include a visit to the fire temple and then the gathering of the entire family to partake in drink and food.

Of course this is only if you are in Bombay. Here in NYC, the day is just another Saturday. The local Zoroastrian association will have a get together this saturday. And in recent times there has been a Persian Day Parade here in NYC. The Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg will welcome a group of Zoroastrians at City Hall this week to celebrate the festival.