The Nowruz spread is to Nowruz, what a Christmas tree is to Christmas. Nowadays, the Spread or Sofreh is placed on a table. Traditionally, the Sofreh was spread on the floor. There are other kinds of Sofrehs such as Sofreh Aghd, or Wedding Spread (that are placed on the floor).
Sofreh Spread on the Floor
Customarily, all Zoroastrian religious ceremonies are conducted on a Sofreh spread on the floor using white linen. Sitting on the floor has other symbolisms for Zoroastrians: it is a mark of humility and it keeps one grounded in more ways than one. Staying in contact with the floor brings a person closer to the earth, literally and figuratively.
There are three kinds of items placed on a Sofreh:
A Nowruz Sofreh is unique to a home and can become quite creative. Nowruz Sofrehs in Zoroastrian homes are usually somewhat different from non-Zoroastrian households.
Sofreh in Zoroastrian Homes
The Nowruz Spread (Sofreh in Persian) in Zoroastrian homes has seven (haft in Persian) items beginning with the letter "sh" or "sheen" in the Persian alphabet. The items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals protecting them. Therefore it called a haft-sheen spread or haft-sheen table. The haft-sheen has evolved over time, but has kept its symbolism. Traditionally, families attempt to set as beautiful a haft-sheen table as they can, as it is not only of traditional and spiritual value, but also noticed by visitors during Nowruz visitations and is a reflection of their good taste. The seven items are:
The number seven represents:
Additional items that are frequently seen on the Nowruz Spread
Some households place a sace on the Nowruz table. A sace consists of a metallic tray, made from stainless steel, German silver or silver, and matching accessories such as a fire chalice or oil lamp, a container with a long neck for rose water, and a cone for rock-sugar. The sace and its accessories can be exquisitely crafted and are often part of a family heirloom.
Source of Fire:
An important part of the Nowruz Table is a source of fire: a fire chalice, candles or an oil lamp. Fire represents core Zoroastrian values based on goodness and honesty.
The Sofreh is a white table-cloth or linen sheet, white being the Zoroastrian symbol for purity. The other items represent the bounty of creation and the joy of a good, meaningful life.
The occasional spread may even contain a pomegranate fruit with coins inserted as a symbol for prosperity, longevity and good health in the New Year. The pomegranate tree and its fruit have special significance in Zoroastrian rituals and ancient health practices.
Sofreh in Islamic Homes
Since Muslims are not permitted to drink wine, they adapted the Sofreh to a Haft-Seen Sofreh, one that has seven items beginning with the letter "s" or "seen":
The Noruz table also commonly contains:
While hyacinths (sonbol) and coins (sekkeh) are popular display items that begin with "s", they are not traditionally considered part of the seven.Nowruz, Nauroz Chahar-Shanbeh-Suri Farvardigan Days History of Nowruz Celebrations of Nowruz Haji Firouz Nowruz Spread Spring-Cleaning Other Names of Nowruz Prayers of Nowruz Sizdah-Bedar Customs & Foods of Nowruz Significance & Symbolism Tradition & Mythology Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar
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