Today, the festival of Nowruz is celebrated in many countries that were territories of, or influenced by, the Persian Empire: Iran, Various Iranian Peoples including Kurds, Afghanistan, parts of the Middle East, as well as in the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
It is also celebrated by the Zoroastrians as well by certain Iranic inhabitants in Pakistan's Chitral region and Northern Areas. It is also celebrated by the Iranian immigrants from Shiraz in Zanzibar.
Nowruz around the World
Nowruz is celebrated in Greater Iran, Caucasus, Central Asia and by Iranians worldwide. It is a public holiday in: Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kashmir, and Kyrgyzstan. Also the Canadian parliament by unanimous consent, has passed a bill to add Nowruz to the national calendar of Canada, on March 30, 2009.
In Albania "Sultan Nevruz" is celebrated as a mainly mystical day by the Bektashi sect, and there are special ceremonies in the Tekke led by the clergy and large meals are served there. They celebrate this day as the birthday of Ali. Nowruz is also celebrated by Kurds in Iraq and Turkey as well as by Parsis in the Indian subcontinent.
Other notable celebrations take place by Iranians around the world, such as Los Angeles, Toronto, Cologne and in United Kingdom, mainly in London. But because Los Angeles is prone to devastating fires, there are very strict fire codes in the city. No fires are allowed even on one's own property. Usually, Iranians living in Southern California go to the beaches to celebrate the event where it is permissible to build fires.
Attempts to suppress Nowruz following the Iranian Revolution met with little success. In Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban, Nowruz was banned until 2001 where it came back as popular as it was before the Taliban. It is also a holy day for Alawites, Alevis, and adherents of the Bahai Faith.
Some Nowruz celebrants believe that whatever a person does on Nowruz will affect the rest of the year. So, if a person is warm and kind to their relatives, friends and neighbors on Nowruz, then the New Year will be a good one. On the other hand, if there are fights and disagreements, the year will be a bad one.
It is customary to visit the cemeteries in last Thursday night of the year or in last Friday morning and read the Sura Al-Fatiha for the passed members of the family, friends or any other deceased ones in the cemetery.
During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the youth will visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later. When in previous year, a family member is deceased; the tradition is to visit that family first (among the elders). The visits naturally have to be relatively short; otherwise one will not be able to visit everybody on their list. A typical visit is around 30 minutes, where you often run into other visiting relatives and friends who happen to be paying a visit to the same house at that time. Because of the house visits, you make sure you have a sufficient supply of pastry, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and special nuts on hand, as you typically serve your visitors with these items with tea or sherbet. Many Iranians will throw large Nowruz parties in a central location as a way of dealing with the long distances between groups of friends and family.
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