Mon. Jun 5th, 2023

Happy Nawruz

By Adil Ahmad Ibn-e-Saghir & Gul Rehan

Pakistan is a country which has been blessed by Nature with complete and magnificent quarterly seasons. Having such blessing weather patterns, beauties and bounties and seasonal cycles, one yearns for spring after braving chilling, freezing and frost winter, which makes one to stay indoor to avoid outside frigid and freezing coldness, swinging one’s mood even to disgusting level. The winter season subsides gradually in urban areas in February and in rural highlands-chitral and GB in March-almost a month later. Life with its full charm and Spring are synonymous-bright and beautiful, which a Persian couplet relates

مژدہ  ای  دل  کہ  دکر  بارہ  بہار  آمدہ  استGood news from the heart that spring has come
خوش  خرامیدہ  و  باحسن  و  وقار  آمدہ  استShe has come with good grace and dignity

Living as a student of English Literature in Kuwait hostel of IIU Islamabad, which is situated deep in the woods, at the foot of Maragalla hills provides a distinctive pleasant and peaceful learning experience in calm ambience. The arrival of spring in the midst of whistling, chirping and chanting of birds and beasts, hissing of honey bees, coo cooing of quill at dawn and dusk, enlivening of fauna, growing of buds, sprouting of the bushes, the flowering of the flowers, blossoming and blooming of tree flowers, reminds me the last spring of my own native area. Breeze of oxygenated air caressing us refreshes our mind and invigorates energy. The air gets filled with aurora and aura, skins give look of wearing fresh soul, human life and creatures become active, enriched with tapestry. This soothing and stimulating atmosphere lands one in a utopian and imaginary world, where one feels his griefs being healed and heart rest contented. Saadi wrote: “Awaken, the morning Nowruz breeze is showering the garden with flowers.”

Recollection of such scenes and scenarios, serene and stupendous environment, takes me back to my good old school days. Flies and flying creatures stick to windows to hover over the light inside, reflects arrival of spring outside, when all dead and slumbered ones come to life. The striking of fresh cold air and scents of flowers entices me to grab books while basking in enchanting weather. Reading and writing closer to such mother nature in calm milieus etches in one’s memory for good. I must acknowledge Saudi Arabia for funding such an attractive place to build dormitories for outsider students, which oozes homeliness. Like William Wordsworth, am also an ardent admirer of mother nature. He says “nature purifies humans, is the best teacher and teaches simplicity. Those people who are close to nature are pure”. It is time to enjoy nature, picnicking outdoors, cracking jokes, playing pranks.

Truly and humbly appreciating mother nature’s blessings, peeping through wider lens onto a broader canvas of life in Pakistan, one admires Spring’s(bahar) subtlety deeply which brings in its fold exciting festivity and hyperactivity in general and to extreme Northern Areas of the country in peculiar. Though not much noticeable with urbanites but this seasonal based festival is celebrated by various faith and ethnicities spreading from Balkans to Mongolia, Kurds in Iraq and Turkey and Parsis in the Indian Subcontinent. Dwellers up in the Northern hills celebrate it with religio-cultural fervor as dawn of ‘new day of the year’. Nowruz in Persian means “new day”, also in toto in Urdu but scarcely used or said. It is time of spiritual renewal and revitalization, physical rejuvenation, an outlook of hope and optimism towards the future, spirit of gratitude for blessings, joy and delight.

According to Iranian Solar Hijri calendar, the new day of year begins when the March vernal equinox or northward equinox occurs. Aside from Gregorian, Jewish, Islamic, Indian, Chinese, and Julian, Jalaali ( named after Seljuk king- Jalaluddin Malik-Shah I) is an official calendar in Iran and Afghanistan. The day of Nowruz has its origin in the old Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism and is thus rooted in the traditions of the Iranian peoples. 21st March of Gregorian or 1st Farvardin of Iranian Solar Hijri calendar is arrival of spring and a victory over darkness. Another account mentions of king Jamshid who is said to have introduced every knowledge of ancient world to the Iranians. Who saves human from killing winter by constructed a throne studded with gems, demons raised him above the earth into heaven with the throne, there he shinned. To celebrate his accomplishments, he earmarked this day beginning of new era for his people. So begins a new calendar with Nowrooz-e-Jamshidi. It has been celebrated since the reform of the Iranian calendar in the 11th century CE to mark the new year. Astronomically, Iranian scientist Tusi views Nowruz,  “the first day of the official New Year was always the day on which the sun entered Aries before noon”.

اندر  دل  من  مھا  دل  افروز  توئیInside my heart, you are heartwarming
یاران  ھستندلیک  دلسوز    توئیThey are friends like you are compassionate
شادند  جھانیان  بہ  نوروز  و  بہ  عیدThe world is happy for Nowruz and Eid
عید من    و  نوروز  من    امروز  توئیMy Eid, my Nowruz, today is you

It has been celebrated by different ethnicities, faith-followers, diverse background communities for over 3,000 years in Western AsiaCentral Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, the Balkans, and South Asia. It had been feast and fiesta day under Abbasid, Umayyad, Safavid, Fatimid and Ottoman Empires. But Arabian land, strewed with sands and stones, has perennially having sizzling hot weather, negligible greenery, this customary celebration is non-existential, and a non-Arab.

لوٹ آئے ہیں پھر عدم سےبہار آئی تو جیسے یک بار
سوال سارے جواب سارےوہ خواب سارے شباب سارے
نئے سرے سے حساب سارےبہار آئی تو کھل گئے ہیں

Poets have honored spring with odes as sign of renewal to the land and warmth in life. Their poetry reflects fresh skies, new shoots and shrubs. Though Jacques Romain’s lyrics ‘Seasons in the Sun’, sung by Terry Jacks had different context- his wife breached his love by befriending his husband’s own friend. The poet metaphorically equates his love and loyalty with spring but is suffering a dead life due to cold love of his wife. The song starts as; ‘When all the birds are singing in the sky, Now that spring is in the air, We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun’. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem ‘bahar ayee’ says the same

United Nations officially recognized the “International Day of Nowruz” with the adoption of resolution in 2010. Nowruz remains a holy day for Zoroastrians, Baháʼís and some Muslim communities. In Iran it lasts for two weeks with four holidays and is one of the most treasured holidays in Uzbekistan. Though a secular holiday, in GB it is two-three days’ optional holiday occasion. It is a common seasonal event across Pamir Territory of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of USSR-Tajikistan, Azerbaijan. It’s origin being from Iran, in this part, it is popular festival among Twelver and sevener’s shi’it school of thought. Muhammad Bakir Majlisi in his Bihar al-Anwar quotes Imam Jafar-as-Sadiq (AS) as, “Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion”.

It is also metrological coincident in Chitral and GB that the inclement killer winter starts receding from this day, water streams start gushing from glaciers into channels; like flooding of Nile River in Egypt, creatures those hibernate to avoid frigid temperature resurface, sowing of seeds begin. Here this cultural-cum-seasonal festival kick starts agricultural season with traditional customs, which include cleaning of house, fire and water, ritual dances, gift exchanges, offering prayers and reciting poetry, display of symbolic objects and many more. These customs differ between the diverse peoples and countries that celebrate the festival.

In different countries and cultures, vast number of special recipes and traditional foods are served during the celebration. In Iranian cultural context, arrangement of Haft-Sin (Seven S) table symbolizes its culture and embodies nature. The displays reflect traditional and spiritual values, aesthetic sense and good taste of families. Each item in Haft-Sin symbolizes or represents a concept in Persian culture’ Sabzeh_purity, opulence, good fortune, rebirth and renewal of nature, Samanu;_fertility and the sweetness of life, Senjed_ love and affection, Serkeh(Vinegar)_ patience and age, Sonbol (hyacinth)_spring, Seer (garlic)_good health or aids recovery from harm, Sikah(Coin)_ wealth and prosperity, Seeb (apple)_health, natural beauty, fragrance.

Allah, in Surah Ya-Sin, Surah 36, Verses 33–35 asks mankind, to be grateful for the production of grain and plantation of fruit from dead earth through gushing springs for their sustenance. Though not only sumptuous meals are signs and symbols of gratitude-an ethical value of Islam, but this day also provides socialization opportunities; through exchange of good thoughts, promise of good deeds, expression with sincere dedication.

State leaders extend and exchange to the celebrant countries’ heads across the globe best wishes on this cheerful occasion. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s message to our President Arif Alvi in 2021 succinctly conveys its impact and import,” like an adept painter, Spring infuses spirit of freshness and liveliness into the heart and soul of the earth, through making impressions on nature’s canvass to spread images and patterns of refreshment and flourishing across the globe”. His Holiness the Aga Khan IV (may Allah be pleased with Ahle-Bayt) to his faith-followers; most of whom dot the Pamir terrain on this auspicious occasion of new and fresh start of agricultural season for crop production, as always, sends messages of peace and prosperity, beseech for abundance, sustenance, fidelity, good grace and mercy. Stressing on keeping torch of hope alight, extending support and goodwill gestures to those in need across families and communities. He says this is a time to reflect, to share, to renew and to seek blessings. “In the end, human progress must grow out of the human heart and soul. The environment enables — but it is the human spirit, guide and supported by the Divine Will, which eventually triumphs”.

We wish your readers; this new day and Spring may prove dawn of new era for the country with a fresh outlook on the political and economic fronts. The country is passing through a critical juncture! Really.  Which needs genuinely reigned in under honest, able civilian leadership, who could drain the swamp and steer it as a sustained and viable country. The modus operandi of the system have surrendered the country to selected few; political as well apolitical crooks, shakers and movers, unconscionable and selfish individuals and groups to be served as a treasure-house (‘toshakhana’ in Persian) looting and bleeding its resources mercilessly.

Gul Rehan teaches Mathematics Overseas and Adil Ahmad Ibn-e-Saghir is student of English Literature at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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