The last day has witnessed the first formal day of spring, which coincides with the first day of the Persian new year fohaftsinperfectr Iranians.

This tradition of welcoming the spring, the new year, and new beginnings is called Norouz (“New-Day”) in Iran.   It is more akin to Christmas than New Year for many Iranians, seeing as a significant holiday that is deeply symbolic.   Among other elements, it is the symbolism of the victory of spring over winter, of light over darkness, of life over death.

The Norouz ceremony is a beautiful blending of Islamic and pre-Islamic elements.   The Islamic elements include the display of the Qur’an, and the recitation of prayers asking God to transform hearts into the loveliest of forms.    The pre-Islamic elements often tap into a Pre-Islamic Zoroastrian Persian tradition which celebrates light over darkness.

Most end up celebrating the New Year with a ritual setting of the Haft-sin table, which includes seven items that in Persian start with the letter “S”, each symbolizing something:   Apples (Sib), Garlic (Sir), Vinegar (Serkeh), Somac (Somaq), dried fruit (senjed ), a sweet pudding (Samanu), and Greens (Sabzeh).  Families gather with loved ones, exchange small presents, and pray for a better year ahead for all of humanity.

I was asked to give a talk for a gathering to celebrate Norouz, and instead of merely talking about the common topics such as the Haft-Sin table, I decided to talk about what was on many people’s minds and in many people’s hearts:  the drumbeats of war-mongering against Iran.

So here is my talk, about the Persian New Year and how to respond to war-mongering against Iran.

In this talk, I argue that the poetic tradition of Iran, so dear to Iranians as their great contribution to humanity, contains powerfully illuminating lessons for how to respond to constant war-mongering.

I hope you enjoy the talk.

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May everything in this world that has been overcome by the winter of oppression become transformed into the beautiful springtime of justice.
May the flowers of human dignity and the beauty of liberated existence bloom everywhere.

May the tensions between Iran and other countries be transformed into a sweet harmony of peaceful co-existence.

May every day be Norouz!

The link to the talk is here.

5 Comments

  1. Dear Omid,

    Your talk made me long to come with you again to see Mowlana’s shrine in Konya, and sip chiya at cafes in Istanbul while your beautiful boy climbs on my back like a little monkey. Give him a wedgie for me, please!

    Tom

  2. Great article, and great video! One of the best messages to be given Norouz (the other amazing message was delivered in Turkey, on the same day). Thank you, Omid!

  3. Re the separation/s you mentioned in your talk about the Persian New Year: When I was helping manage an Islamic school, the heavy reliance on the use of “fear” as a motivator and to deter unwanted behavior, was a constant major pain for me. Fear turns students off to learning and causes the whole “fight or flight” response. Every time I objected I was told that fear is what Allah uses in the Qur’an and in the same ways they were using it. My response was that this is impossible because fear causes separation, and the fear, even terror, spoken of in the Qur’an is the same fear, or terror, children feel and express when separated from their parents for the first time at a young age, when they know their entire existence is dependent upon their parents. The fear spoken of in the Qur’an is the fear of separation from Allah and the causes of such separation, because from that separation all harmful actions come. When adults use fear in Islamic education, they are separating the children from Allah, thus doing exactly what Allah in the Qur’an is warning so strongly against. No one listened, and we eventually left the school altogether. The public schools have their issues, but they did not separate my children from Allah and the Qur’an–only the Muslim community does that.

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