Episode 2: Nowruz, the dance of spring

Greeting and Surnaye Nowruz song

Hello, you’re listening to Padena, this episode: Nowruz, the Dance of Spring.

You’re listening to a Khorasani song about Nowruz by Rastak music band.

This episode is sponsored by Iran Knowledge Institute. Iran Knowledge Institute is a not-for-profit social start-up in the field of human capitals for knowledge-based interactions between Iranian specialists residing abroad with their professional peers living inside Iran. They provide different B2B and B2G solutions, including designing, organizing and running: workshops, talks, webinars, conferences, seminars and various networking events, besides peer to peer connections such as consultancy or recruitment contracts. You can find more information by checking iranknowledge.net.

🎵 Dance of Spring by Shahrdad Rouhani

Nowruz, the new day

Nowruz, the Persian New Year and most beloved celebration in Iran regardless of religions, beliefs and ethnicities, offers the occasion of renewal. It contains two words: No meaning “New” and Rouz meaning “Day”. Together they translate to ‘A New Day’ in Persian.

UNESCO has registered the Nowruz celebrations in 2009 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity while more than 300 million people observe it globally. The 21st of March has been proclaimed International Nowruz Day by the United Nations as It’s celebrated in 12 countries in the world. Nowruz takes place when the sun crosses the celestial equator from South to North, at the moment the day and night are of equal length.

You listened to the story of Nowruz on the background of the Dance of Spring, instrumental music composed by Shahrdad Rouhani, a well-known Iranian composer and conductor. The Yanni Live at the Acropolis concert in 1993 was arranged and conducted by Rouhani and became the most viewed program ever shown on public television in the United States besides becoming the second best-selling music video of all time after Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

In the following listen to the myth of Nowruz intertwines with the mythical Persian King, Jamshid from the book Nowruz, the feast of rebirth published by Iran cultural studies.

Jamshid and the myth of Nowruz

It had been 300 consecutive years the world was like an adorned bride, there was no sign of drought or starvation, no one ever heard of pain or death in the reign of Jam, the mythical Persian king who attacked the evil demons and restored prosperity to the world. Jam commanded demons to build him a throne of jewels and then demons carried the king on his marvellous throne from mount Damavand to Babylon within one day.

As the sun flames hit the jewels of the throne, People thought there are two suns in the sky at the same time and since then the suffix “Shid” which means radiant has been added to the name of the king, and his name became Jamshid. It was the beginning of the spring when he sat on the glittering throne, when a new day started, it was called Nowruz, afterwards.

🎵 Boye eidi with the voice of Farhad

The most nostalgic Nowruz song

You’re listening to Koodakane more known as Booye Eidi, meaning “the scent of new year’s gift. All Iranians endear this song and listen to it over and over in the last days before the New Year. One of the crucial reasons for the song’s fame is its singer, Farhad; an Iranian pop, rock, and folk singer and one of the most influential Iranian artists of all time. According to the Leonard Cohen Files, Farhad released the first English rock and roll album in Iran.

🎵 Nowruz by Sima Bina

Khane Tekani, Pre-Nowruz ceremony

In the last days before the Persian New Year, scenes of overhung washed carpets over balconies and people strongly scrubbing the building windows, are a typical feature of the Iranian pre-Nowruz Custom. In the following, you will be hearing a description of this tradition from Travestyle.com.

No Nowruz can begin without a deep spring cleaning, and that’s why we Iranians go as far as calling it khane tekani or “house shaking”! According to Zoroastrianism, the ghosts of our ancestors visit us for the new year, and that’s why we need to get rid of all the dirt and unnecessary things before their arrival. Once the house is all clean, it’s time to shop for new clothing.

You’re listening to the Nowruz song by Sima Bina, the mother of Iranian folk music. Sima has worked on reviving a collection of nearly forgotten folk melodies and ethnic lullabies for more than five decades. Her book Iranian Lullabies presents forty Iranian lullabies published in 2009.

Chahar Shanbe Suri, Iranian fire festival

🎵 Chaharshanbe suri by Naser Masoudi

Late last days of winter, when the land is getting warmer, waiting impatiently for spring to come, on the eve of the last Wednesday the fire festival of “Chahar Shanbe Suri”, sits as the arrival step of spring. It has routes in the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism. “Chahrshanbe” means Wednesday in Farsi and about “Suri“, there’s a potential fact refers it to reddish tint regards to a healthy fresh facial expression.  Countrywide people gather to make bonfires in the streets, alleys, courtyard and roofs before jumping over the flames: this is considered a ritual of purification before entering the New Year.

Chaharshanbe Suri in Gilan Province, Shiva Shamshiri | Padena

You listened to some lines upon the Iranian fire festival, Chahar Shanbeh Suri, written in a story of Iranian Nowruz celebrations from TasteIran.net accompanying by Chahar Shanbe Suri melody by Naser Masoudi who is one of the masters of singing with Iranian Gilaki dialect.

New Year Heralds

Akin to the feast of fools, a comical figure tries to humour people in return for a tip for the last five days of the year. This figure known as Mir-e Nowruzi or as newly generation calls it Amoo Nowruz means uncle Nowruz.

Now the personification of this character has survived in “Haji Firuz” whose face is covered in soot, and his body clad in bright red clothing. Suddenly in the final days of the year, Haji Firuz can be heard in the streets singing: “its Haji Firuz, the one you can see only once a year.

🎵 Haji Firuz song sang by Morteza Ahmadi

That was quoted lines about Nowruz characters knows as Iranian New Year heralds from tourism and heritage Gilgamesh magazine on the traditional tune of Haji Firuz with the voice of Morteza Ahmadi, a successful Iranian actor and folk singer.

Haji Firuz character are Nowruz messengers, Unknown

🎵 Nowruz song by Hossein Alizadeh

Rasmus celebrates Newruz in Iran

You’re going to listen to a short memory of Rasmus, a Danish traveller who has visited Iran for the first-time during Nowruz on the melody of Nowruz song composed by Hossein Alirezade, master of Iranian Tar. He’s been nominated for the Grammy Award three times during his life.  Then the Eid, by Kamran Tafti and Rastak Hallaj.

🎙️ While everyone had warned me against travelling in Iran during Nowruz, doing so ended up enhancing my experience in many ways. Due to the holiday, the sky above Tehran was clean and blue, and I wouldn’t have missed seeing what seemed to be every Iranian family going for a picnic on ‘Nature’s Day’. But most importantly, it gave me the chance to experience Nowruz with a Persian family.

Nowruz is all about family. Sara is from a Kurdish family base in Tabriz city that I was going to celebrate Nowruz with them. Here her mother was welcoming me with that special Iranian hospitality that cannot be expressed with words but have to be experienced on your own. She is one of the most loving persons I have ever met and a wonderful host.

The apartment was beautifully decorated for Nowruz. In one end of the living room, there was set a lovely Haft-sin table while the other side was all set up for a special feast. I can still remember the sight of the homemade food nicely arranged on a white tablecloth on top of the Persian carpet. We all sat down on the floor and started eating. Her mother insisted that I tried every dish waiting for my response. It was by far the best meal I had in Iran.

After dinner, coffee and a lot of sweets, it was time for some entertainment. Her brother sang a Tasnif – the Persian equivalent of the ballad – and Sara played the santoor – a traditional Persian instrument. I had to improvise the reading of a Danish poem.

After that, it was time for reciting Hafiz. One of the traditions that unites Iranians of different faiths on Nowruz is an act of divination using the words of the great Persian poet Hafiz. We followed the tradition and opened a book of Hafiz on a random page. Sara’s sister would then read out the poem aloud with everybody listening carefully. As within the poem is hidden a special omen for you. Fortunately, Hafiz’s words on that evening were kind to me.

🎵 Nowruz by Kamran Tafti & Rastak Hallaj

Haft-Seen Table

Now get to know about the Haft-sin table and its elements on the Baluchi song named Halu Halu by Rastak Band. Rastak music band has established with a great concern for preserving and dissemination of the Iranian folklore music in 1997, aims to revive regional melodies of Iran. Then, Bahar e Delkash by Vahid Taj.

🎵 Halu Halu by Rastak Band

Haft Sin Table is one of the brightest symbols of Nowruz, an equivalent to the Christmas Tree and Nativity Scene for Christians. It consists of a table with seven items whose names start with the letter “S” in Farsi; the number seven is Haft in Farsi which depicts seven Sins on the Nowruz table.

In the following listen to a short explanation of each Sin that carrying a specific meaning and story from the weblog Travestyle.com.

1ST Seen, is Sabzeh: Sown wheat or any type of greenery symbolises the rebirth of nature.

2nd seen is Samanu: Sweet pudding made of wheat sprouts symbolises the sweet moments of life.

3rd seen is Sib: Red apple that symbolises beauty.

4th seen is Senjed: Sweet silver berry symbolises love.

And 5th item Sir: that is Garlic symbolising health.

Sumaq, the 6th one: The colour of this Persian spice symbolises the colour of dawn prior to sunrise and the victory of light over darkness.

Finally, the 7th seen of haft seen table, Serkeh: Vinegar symbolises immortality and patience.

Haft-seen table, Hanie Rahmati | Padena

🎵 Bahare delkash with Vahid Taj’s voice

A bird species flies long to spend spring in Iran

The Common Swift, in Persian Bad-Khorak, is a bird species owns the record of continuous flight that comes to Iran on its way to Africa with the arrival of spring; they drink, feed, and often mate and sleep on the wing without landing.

🎵 Song of the Common Swift

🎵 Koocheh Festival sound

Bushehr Koocheh Festival before Nowruz

Since 2018, every year before the Persian New Year, Koocheh music festival is held in the coastal city of Bushehr. During a week of this event, several local music bands and singers from around the country and even beyond the borders come to the historic alleys and cafes of this ancient city performing regional music styles without usual formalities.

you’re listening to the tunes of Bushehr Koocheh Festival. In 2020, this exciting event is put off due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Bushehr Koocheh Festival, Amin Karimi | Padena

🎵 Baz Bahar by Darya dadvar

The Spring again, Baz Bahar in Persian, by Darya Dadvar’s voice

Foreign travelogues

🎵 Rashti dialect melody

You’re listening to a Rashti folklore song by Rastak

Next, a short part that Mohsen is going to read from the journey and memoirs of Akivo Kazama, who was the first Japanese envoy in Iran in 1925. He was fond of the Iranian culture to the extent that studied Iranian history, art and literature.

Nowruz from the view of a Japanese envoy in Iran

On the Iranian Nowruz, all people of the city put on new and adorned clothes and the elderly, the youths, men and women set out. The Iranian calendar is based on the solar year and this year begins with spring and ends with winter. The New Iranian Year begins in march when birds start singing and flowers of every species blossom. 

In the New Iranian Year is called Nowruz, people in the cities and villages wear new clothes and are happy. In the morning of Nowruz, the Shah, inviting all statesmen, commanders and domestic and foreign officials to the palace, holds the greeting ceremony. The Nowruz greeting custom has remained since ancient Iran. The Shah shakes hand with every official and gives them a gold minted coin as Eidi. I, also, took a gold coin with the Shah’s image minted on it.

🎵 Nowruz gol e khazan by Abbas Kamandi

Listening to a Kurdish song named Newruz, Gol e Khazan, sang by the Kurdish singer, Abbas Kamandi.

Nowruz celebration and Iranian ethnic groups  

Among all Iranian ethnic groups, it’s the Kurdish nation that endears Nowruz the most, to maintain its mythical roots. On the eve of Newroz, in southern and eastern Kurdistan, bonfires are lit. These fires symbolize the passing of the dark season, winter, and the arrival of spring, the season of light.

Listen to the story of Newroz, affiliated to the Kurdish mythology from encyclopedia Iranica and Shahnameh, the longest Persian epic composition written by Ferdowsi 1000 years ago that Manuchehr reads.

Zahak was an evil king who had serpents growing from his shoulders; his reign caused spring to no longer come to Kurdistan. During this time, two young men were sacrificed daily, and their brains were offered to Zahak’s serpents. However, the cook who was in charge of sacrificing young men would instead kill only one man a day to save the other man.

Kaveh, a blacksmith who had lost six sons to Zahak planned a revolt then. He trained those survived youths, who according to the legend were ancestors of the Kurds, they killed the king then, set fire to the hillsides to celebrate the victory; and spring returned to Kurdistan the next day.

Sizdah Bedar celebration

At the end of these delightful 13 days of sharing food, gifts, and joyful moments with family members comes the Nowruz’s last celebration and zenith: Sizdah Bedar, a closure in honour of Nature. Next, Gilgamesh magazine’s description upon Sizdah Bedar celebration with Melika’s voice on Nowruz song by the Iranian beloved singer, Homayoun Shajarian.

🎵 Nowruz by Homayoun Shajarian

Sizdah Bedar means to stay outdoors on the 13th day of the new year. It’s celebrated on the thirteenth day after Nowruz by stepping out into nature, oftentimes picnicking. It‘s a marker of the final day of Nowruz celebrations and should be held in the burgeoning spring at a different location from years previous.  Picnics are prepared in advance for lunch the following day.

🎵 Nowruz song by Nigina

You’re listening to a Tajiki song named after Nowruz whose singer is Nigina.

Nowruz around the world

Next, listen to some lines upon Nowruz celebration around the world and within the confines of the ancient Persia from an article by Saeed Daneshmandi on the “Novruz Gelir” by the famous pop singer of Azerbaijan, Aygun Kazimova.

🎵 Azari song, Novruz gelir

Azerbaijan has continuously held Nowruz, in spite of the restrictions imposed during the Soviet era, and in 2006 it was declared a public holiday. In fact, after Iran, Azerbaijan enjoys the longest holiday for its Novruz.

Zoroastrians of India known as Parsis, decorate their homes and wear clean clothes at this time of year. Additionally, they will observe this holy time by paying a visit to the Fire Temples and pray for prosperity, health and wealth.

🎵 Bahar Bahar by Naser Abdollahi

Now, Bahar Bahar, composed by Mohammad Ali Bahmani with the resonating voice of Naser Abdollahi. Naser was a gifted pop singer from south of Iran. He left the mortal life behind too soon in his 30s due to a mysterious reason that never been revealed. And goodbye.

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