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Nauroj


Nauroj means a new day of the calendar mostly known as the first day of the Persian solar year's first month. The Iranian new years day festival is observed on 21 March, which is also the first day of the spring season. According to Astrology, on that day the Sun reaches to the Aries heralding a new Solar year.

Belief goes that on this day Adam (A) was sent to the earth from heaven after granting him mercy and forgiveness and Prophet Noah (A) had anchored his boat in a new land.

Emperor of ancient Persia Jamseed, considered as one of the most influential emperors, was a great astronomer. He introduced the celebration of Nauroj Festival in 800 years B.C. From then on, the New Year's Day is being observed, as tradition goes, with joy and festivity. The Nauroj festival, was also observed later in many countries of the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. The festival is celebrated in the present Iran as its most traditional national event. Persian was made the official language of Indian sub-continent during the Muslim rule. But historical documents reveal no indication of introducing Nauroj festival in India at that period even; nor record of observing this festival in India was traced during the pre-Mughal era.

When Humayun became the emperor of Mughal India for the second time in 1556 AD, a mass exodus of Iranian shites to India occurred. As a result, Iranian culture began to be practiced in India. Thus the Nauroj festival was introduced in India. It was the main state sponsored festival observed from 1556. State banquet in honour of the great amirs were organised on this day in the royal palaces and forts in Delhi and Agra to mark the day. Meenabazars or fairs organised by royal ladies with those of establishments developed as a state festival. It was at such a Meenabazar that crown Prince Selim (later Emperor Jahangir) is said to have met Meherunissa (Empress Noorjahan) and fell in love at first sight.

Nauroj is a leading aspect of Mughul culture in Indian sub-continent. The festival is still observed by Shiites living in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Members of Shiite community living in Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi and Chittagong still observe the Persian new years day regularly. Many of them are seen spraying sacred water around their home on that day. Another ritual of the day is to drink that water for keeping themselves protected from diseases.

A congregation to seek divine blessing is also arranged to mark the day. A copy of the holy Quran along with a bowl full of roses are kept on a large mat spreaded over a clean and sacred place. Variety of seasonal fruits, home made dry sweet meat, water-pots and a hand fan are kept centering the Quran and the rose-bowl. Devotees are used to assemble around those things. They recite verses from the holy books and seek blessings of the God for their well-being keeping their eyes on water and fruits. After finishing the doa, darud and munajat, they embrace each other and exchange greetings like Eid-days. Later, sweetmeats and fruits are distributed among neighbours and relatives. The standard of the arrangement and the collection of items for the ritual largely depend on the economic condition of the devotees concerned. Members of the Nawab family of Dhaka were used to celebrate the Nauroj amid pomp and grounder. In the evening, they used to float thousands of candle lights in nearby ponds and water bodies.

Poet kazi nazrul islam in a poem portrayed a vivid sketch of Nauroj Festival highlighting its various aspects. He described the day specially the fair as a platform of exposing a youth's physical and mental beauty to another opposite one for conquering his or her heart. [Rafiqul Islam Rofique]