ZARATHUSHTIS TO CELEBRATE THEIR FIRST UNESCO BLESSED NOWRUZ
NoRooz, which falls on the Spring Equinox March 21, marks the official New Year for Zoroastrians worldwide. Washington D.C. 3 March 2010 – FEZANA, the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, announced today that Zoroastrian organizations in the United States and Canada will celebrate NoRooz , the Zarathushti New Year, at the turn of the spring equinox. Families will come together on the occasion with prayers, traditional ceremonies and festivities. Media and the public are invited to attend. To locate a NoRooz celebration at a Zarathushti association near you, visit: http://www.fezana.org/Associations/Members
On 23 February 2010 in its sixty-fourth session, the United Nations General Assembly recognized 21 March as the International Day of NowRuz. UNESCO has declared NowRuz, an intangible heritage of humanity. As per the UN resolution (document A/64/L.30/Rev.2) Nowruz heralds in the New Year for more than 300 million people worldwide. It has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, South East Asia and other regions, beginning with its origins in Persia. In Iran, the celebrations last for 13 days, culminating with Sisdeh-Bedar, when families go out to parks and picnic together, emphasizing their close association with nature and its elements. The Zarathushti Diaspora in North America preserves these ancient traditions and strives to pass on these valuable intangible legacies to the next generation. “The beauty, meaning and symbolism of NoRooz can best be experienced by laying out the traditional Haft Sheen Table,” said Bomi Patel, President of FEZANA. The seven (Haft) items remind us of the seven attributes important in our faith tradition, viz., Spenta Mainyu or Wisdom (the power to generate good thoughts, good words and good deeds); Vohuman (The Good Mind); Asha Vahishta (Ultimate Truth and Order); Kshatrya Vairya (Benovelent Power of Good Governance); Spenta Armaiti (Devotion, zeal and desire to be industrious); Haaurvatat (incessant striving toward perfection) and Ameratat (Eternal bliss and immortality), in this journey of life. Zarathushti priests from the North American Mobeds’ Council (NAMC), after consultation with their peers in the home countries of Iran and the Indian sub-continent have compiled a selection of prayers for NowRuz published by FEZANA this year. It is to be used by the laity at tahvil in their homes and prior to congregational festivities. For a copy of the book, contact: Erv Soli P. Dastur, email@example.com The year 2010 is of note since it marks the 1000 year anniversary of the completion of the Persian epic the Shah-na-Meh (Book of Kings) composed by the poet Ferdowsi Tusi. Stories from the Shah-na-Meh are shared as part of Norooz celebrations in North American secular settings such as the Smithsonian Museum in the US capital, as the celebration becomes more main stream. Rooted in Zoroastrianism, Norooz is a universal celebration for all of humanity; a gift which cuts across religious, national, ethnic boundaries with its message of peace, friendship and harmony.
The following video clip from the House of Representatives of the United States Congress during its deliberations in March 2010, lifting up the beautiful and life regenerating message of NowRuz, rooted in Zoroastrianism, which is a gift to people of diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions and nations emphasising the all embracing nature of the celebration would be of interest:
Zoroastrianism, founded circa 1500 BCE, is credited to be the oldest monotheistic religion, influencing post-exilic Judaism, which adopted some Zoroastrian beliefs such as the ultimate victory of good over evil and the resurrection of souls. These percepts were then transmitted through Judaism to Christianity, and later to Islam. Zoroastrianism flourished as the imperial religion of three Persian empires, those of the Achaemenians, Parthians and Sassanians, and spread along the ancient trading Silk Route from Europe in the west to China and Japan in the east. Philosophical elements in Zarathushti scriptures are reflected in religions of the orient. The seminal message of the Bhagvad Gita, to work in this world without attachment, reverberates when chanting the Ashem Vohu prayer of the Zarathushtis, which maintains that righteousness is its own reward. Zoroastrians see themselves as bridge builders, promoting peace on earth. The Zoroastrian (Zarathushti) community of North America includes those who came from the Indian sub-continent known as the Parsis, and those who came directly from Iran. About FEZANA Founded in 1987, FEZANA serves as the coordinating body for 27 Zoroastrian associations throughout the United States and Canada. FEZANA promotes the study, understanding and practice of the Zoroastrian faith in North America, represents the interests of its member associations, and carries out philanthropic and charitable activities worldwide. The FEZANA Journal, FEZANA’s publication of record, circulates to Zoroastrian households in more than 22 countries, as well as to scholars, academicians and religious organizations worldwide.
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