|The above is the Haft Sheen table laid out in the home of Mantreh Atashband and Sharukh Tarapore in Philadelphia, PA|
Category Archives: Naurooz
Nowruz Celebration on Canada’s CTV network !
Can you spot Boman Irani and Ratan Tata?
All pictures by Shantanu Das
About 206km north of Mumbai on the NH8 to Agra is the sleepy town of Udvada on Gujarat’s palm-fringed southwest coast. It is to Zoroastrians what Vatican City is to Catholics. The holiest of holies. Not the town itself as much as the Iranshah Atashbehram which stands monument-like at the heart of Udvada. It is one of the oldest and most important spiritual centres for Zoroastrians in the world. They are a fire-worshipping people. And the Iranshah is a fire temple. It is where the holy fire that was consecrated in 1742 when the Zoroastrians came to India to escape religious persecution in Persia is still burning. I understand that Zoroastrians living in Yezd and Homuz in Iran make pilgrimages to Udvada to pay homage at the Iranshah even today.
I visited Udvada one Navroze out of curiosity. Navroze is the dawn of the spring equinox, when the sun crosses the celestial equator, signifying the passage of winter and onset of summer. It always falls in March. This year the festival is being celebrated today, starting at 3.58 o’clock and 40 seconds. Not just by the Zoroastrians of India, but also those of the faith in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Udvada is a four-hour drive from Mumbai, most of it on appalling, bone-jarring roads. Finding a place to stay is easier. The pilgrims can choose from a number of inexpensive dharamshalas in the coastal town. These are all located in the Udvada village that is huddled around the Iranshah.
A lack of money and soul has reduced it to a decrepit pilgrim centre Zoroastrians visit only occasionally. But yet it has a certain charm…
I stayed at a friend’s bungalow on Udvada beach. It is a dirty beach with a dark and forbidding sea on whose waves, I am told, smugglers come riding at night with liquor from the duty free union territory of Daman a few nautical miles away. Udvada, like the rest of Gujarat, is under prohibition. But the Zoroastrians there down their Parsi pegs at night with grateful thanks to the friendly neighbourhood smuggler. If Narendra Modi did not change the prohibition rule when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat for two terms, he won’t do it now as Prime Minister. Visitors who are non-Zoroastrian and who do not enjoy local patronage like I did, can stay at Percy Sidhwa’s Globe Hotel, the Mek Hotel or Ashsisvang Hotel, all of which are simple and friendly.
The weekend I was there, Navroze fell on a Sunday. I explored the entire town the Saturday before in one hour flat. Udvada is in a sorry state of neglect. A lack of money and soul has reduced it to a decrepit pilgrim centre Zoroastrians visit only occasionally. But yet it has a certain charm, with its crumbling old houses. Some have been sold, others pulled down and replaced by modern structures that look incongruous in the old township with their modern, indifferent architecture. It appears nobody wants to stay in Udvada anymore. Except the old and original residents who have nowhere else to go. They are a quaint people whose children left them to go to colleges in cities and jobs abroad. And now their grandchildren come visiting Udvada like the rest of the Zoroastrians do, on an annual pilgrimage.
Click Here for an interesting essay with some exotic pics!
As I try extending to you the Zoroastrian New Year Greetings, The Earth is spinning towards the Spring Equinox, the Moment of NOWRUZ, an appropriate time to share with you, this link to a beautiful multimedia show on YouTube, “The Rites of Spring” created by Niloufar Talebi, that, I’m sure every Zarathushti would enjoy.
Though she starts of in Farsi, the explanation in English follows, 60 seconds later.
Have a blessed NOW RUZ.
Burr Ridge, Illinois, March 13, 2017 – FEZANA (www.fezana.org), the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, today announced Zoroastrian organizations throughout North America will mark the celebration of Nowruz (pron. nouˈɾuːz), Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the official turn of the Zoroastrian New Year and the Spring equinox in the Northern hemisphere.
Zoroastrian associations throughout North America will celebrate Nowruz with prayer ceremonies, participation in Nowruz parades, museum exhibits, tree plantings, social gatherings and, most unique to Nowruz, by decorating beautiful Haft Senee1 (seven trays) tables at home with traditional Nowruz symbols.
“The Zoroastrian community in North America is united, vibrant and growing, and we are honored to join other religions and cultures who celebrate the beauty and renewal of Nowruz,” said FEZANA President Homi D. Gandhi. “From celebrations and parades in major metropolitan areas to beautiful haft-seen tables adorning homes in communities throughout North America, Nowruz represents resolution and the celebration of a new beginning.”
Zoroastrians are followers of one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions founded by the prophet Zarathushtra approximately 3,755 years ago in ancient Iran. Zoroastrians have long-served as bridge builders in interfaith dialogue, believing in truth, righteousness, charity, beneficence, respect for the environment and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
Zoroastrianism, founded circa 1738 BCE, is credited to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions. Zoroastrianism flourished as the imperial religion of three Persian empires, those of the Achaemenians, Parthians and Sassanians, and was the dominant religion from Turkey, and eastward to China during those times. North America’s Zoroastrian community includes those who arrived from the Indian subcontinent, known as Parsis, and those who came directly from Iran seeking religious freedom.
Founded in 1987 and celebrating its 30-year anniversary, FEZANA serves as the coordinating body for 26 Zoroastrian member associations and 15 corresponding groups throughout the United States and Canada. FEZANA promotes the study, understanding and practice of the Zoroastrian faith in North America. FEZANA represents the interests of its member associations, and carries out philanthropic and charitable activities worldwide. 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. www.fezana.org
1 Note to editors: more information on Haft Senee tables and the philosophy behind the Nowruz table can visit: http://ahura.homestead.com/files/NouRouz/NOU_ROUZ_TABLE-PHILOSOPHY.pdf