On Tuesday the 20th of March at 19:45 the Iranian New Year “NOWRUZ” began.
Iranians are celebrating in style.
Festivities and holidays will extend for over 13 days and on the 13th day, everyone will be out for a picnic throwing away the ‘green shoots’ of wheat which each household cultivates for the occasion….Its called ’13 bedar’ or away with the bad omen, the curse!
Although all Iranians in the diaspora, estimated to be about 5 million, join in the celebration, and Iranian TV stations in exile prepare special programs, not all are in a celebratory mood. Thousands of young people are languishing in prisons and thousands more still braving extreme cold weather in tents in Kermanshah after the earthquake which ravaged this beautiful city in the West of the country.
There are dark clouds looming over Iran. People are deeply concerned. There are talks in the streets and in any Iranian household about the probability of another war….more death and destruction, more opportunity for the plunder of wealth and indiscriminate imprisonment and killing.
Yet with this murky background, there is an insatiable hunger and thirst for the truth of the Christian Message, the Gospel of Hope and Salvation in Jesus Christ. Hundreds of Thousand of Iranians are travelling out of Iran (estimated to be over one million this year) to have a brief reprieve from the pressures in the country.
Many in our churches in the region have been prayerfully preparing to share the love of God and the message of salvation with our fellow Iranians and offer prayer, give God’s word as a gift, and share Jesus’s Joy and peace with them. Please cover our passionate evangelists with your prayers as they are seeking to share with the men and women of peace. We believe in an unprecedented harvest.
Here is a short article about the meaning and practices of Iranians in Nowruz! Please read and share. For any further information please contact us by email or phone, we would love to share our experiences with you.
Many modern Iranians believe that ancient Iranians were using “Haft Sheen” (seven items all starting with the letter Sh) on their dining table in the beginning of each New Year symbolizing pure thoughts, and inviting good fortune in the coming year. They used to put a small amount of each of the 7 items in their mouth believing that the New Year would finish in the way they started it.
The items of 7 Sheen are:
Candle [sham]: To have bright illuminated lives. Ancient Iranian belief considered light and fire to be a reflection of God.
Milk [sheer]: To have a life full of affluence and the blessings of God. They believe that milk was the first bestowed food from God to human.
Sugar [shekar]: To have sweet things happening throughout the New Year.
Saltiness [shooree]: To have a purified life with no sin. Salt was a symbol of disinfection.
Wine [sharahb]: To have joy throughout the coming year.
Cress [shahee]: To have a fruitful year and a pleasant nature. They believed that cress is the king of all vegetables.
Nectar [shahd): They used nectar as an extraction of nature on the table. This is a juice made of rosewater and honey which they used to drink from. That’s how they valued life.
They used to read stories from the Shahname (the Book of Kings; epic and mythical poetry written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi) in the beginning of each New Year to teach lessons of compassion to youngsters.
Candle [sham], wine [sharahb], confectionery [shirini], honey [shahd], spindle tree [shemshaad], syrup [sharbat], corn poppy flower [shaghayegh] or rock candy [shakhee nabat] can be another set of used Haft Sheen.
Some believed that there also was “Haft Chin” before Islam in Iran. It is said that in the Achaemenid era, people used to put food on seven porcelain dishes in Newroz (Persian New Year) which were called Haft Chin or “Haft Chidani” (7 collected items).
Some believed that after the Samanid Empire’s fall and the arrival of Islam, Iranians tried to keep their ancient traditions and customs. They had to replace the wine, so they used vinegar [serkee]which is also from grapes. Therefore, they believed that’s how Sheen changed to Seen.
The main proof for Haft Sheen’s supporters is the verses of one of the first Persian Speaking Poet, Rudaki from Samarkand. In his famous poems he mentions Haft Sheen and names seven items accordingly.
But those who are against the idea of Haft Sheen believe that linguists and archaeolexicologists have no fundamental ground to prove this belief. Because candle [sham], nectar [shahd] and wine [sharab] are rather new words which in the old Persian Language were called [sepandar], [angebin] and [baadeh] respectively. None of these words in ancient times started with the‘’Sh’’ letter to be used on the table next to the other Haft Sheen items. Therefore, these verses of Rudaki cannot be historical proof to prove the existence of Haft Sheen.
However, we cannot reject this belief easily. We should note that in ancient times, there were slight differences between the Pahlavi Sassanid Language (Parsic, spoken in the south-west of Iran) and Pahlavi Arsacide Language (Pahlavanic, spoken in the north-east of Iran). This belief cannot be groundless as the Arsacide people pronounced ‘’Sh’’ instead of ‘’S’’ and the Sassanid people pronounced ‘’S’’ instead of ‘’Sh”.
At the end we should not disregard the influence of the tradition and culture of other nations upon the Persian Language during the last years. No scholar would deny that a conquered nation’s culture is influenced by the conquering one.
And now Haft Seen items are:
Coin [sekke], hyacinth [sonbol], samano [samano] (juice of germinating wheat or malt mixed with flour), oleaster [senjed], wheat or barley sprouts [sabzeh], apple [seeb] and garlic [seer].
Sometimes vinegar [serkee], sumac [somagh], wild rue seeds [sepand] are also used to complete Haft Seen table.
They use it to invite prosperity in the coming year. It is also used as a gift to give to friends and relatives.
Haft Seen table is emblazoned by this fragrant flower to proclaim the end to the barrenness of winter. Hyacinth [sonbol] also means a bunch [khoushee] which can also represent a bunch of wheat or barley.
It symbolizes daily provision. A nutritious food made of germinating wheat mixed with flour. They believed in the healing effect of many foods in ancient Iran, therefore, they used samano to symbolize this concept too.
It’s a symbol of love and new birth. It was widely believed that the scent of the oleaster’s blossom had an effect on women’s fertility.
Wheat or barley sprouts:
Symbolizing the growth and transformation of nature. It was said in some old tales that the Kings of Iran used to soak different grains for the New Year and whichever grain sprouted the fasted and grew the best was ordered to be planted throughout the country.
It’s a symbol of beauty, affection and love. They used this fruit to welcome bliss and happiness in the coming New Year.
Though it smells bad, but because of its disinfectant qualities and other health effects, it was used to symbolize good health for the coming New Year.
It is vital to mention that mirror, goldfish, colored eggs and candle are also used to decorate the Haft Seen table.
It’s a symbol of immortality and eternal life. The mirror in old Persian literature refers to God’s court. In the Conference of the Birds by Attar of Nishapur, Simurgh (a phoenix) appears by the reflection of Si-murgh (thirty birds) in the mirror.
It’s symbol of life and blessing. The gold/ red color symbolizing the summer sunshine versus the darkness of winter.
It symbolizes the hope for birth and multiplication. Colors refer to the diversity of birth.
It’s a symbol of light and parrying of the darkness of winter.
Yours in Christ,
Rev Lazarus Yeghnazar
222 Ministries International