By Ali Shari´ati
To say something new about Norouz is a difficult task. Norouz is a national celebration and everyone knows what a national celebration us. Norouz is celebrated every year, and talked about each year again. Much has been said about it, and you have heard a lot in this regard. So is there no point in talking about it one again?
Of course there is! Do we not renew Norouz each year. So let us also hear about it repeatedly as well. It is boring and even nonsense to repeat a scientific or a literary text. Wisdom rejects repetition, but sensations welcome it. Nature too, likes repetition, and the societies need it.
Nature is basically made up of repetition. A society is strengthened through repetition, sensations gain their life from it and Norouz is a beautiful, repetitious story in which the nature, sensations and the society are all engaged, yet it never gets old or boring.
Norouz, which has for long centuries been the master and most gracious of all the national ceremonies around the world, maintains its young, strong, lively existence, because it is not an imposed, an artificial or a political ceremony.
It is the ceremony of the universe, the happiness day of earth and the birthday of the sun and the skies. The glorious day when every natural phenomenon evolves, blooms and resolutes filled with the sweet anxiety of many "startings".
The national ceremonies of the other cultures often encourage men and women to leave their workshops, farms, deserts, alleys and streets, gardens and pastures, and then gather up in rooms under the ceilings, behind closed doors.
They gather in such surroundings as bars, dancings, cellars saloons and house... in places that are heated with gas, lit with light bulbs, filled with smoke, made pretty with artificial colors, decorated with paper or plastic flowers and ornaments, scented with perfumes or burning herbs... Norouz, on the contrary, grabs the people's hands kindly and pulls them joyfully along with it out of their small surroundings in rooms, behind closed doors, under ceilings, from among tall buildings and cement pavement s in and around towns into the glorious vast pastures, green areas and the broad, kind embrace of nature, where everyone feels free and jubilant.
The kind spring sun warms them and brightens their day, the glory of witnessing renewing of creation and themselves excites them, the wind and the spring rain beautifully designs new scenes which are already background with bloomed buds of various colors and scented with:
"Smell of rain,
smell of spearmint,
smell of soil.
And smell of boughs that are wet of gentle spring rain and shining clean"...
Norouz is a great chance for recollection of lots of great memories. Memories of relationship between man and nature, which is renewed each year. This forgetful child of nature who has got himself so much engaged in artificial affairs and pre-sceduled eng agements, that he/she has even totally forgotten his own lovely mother.
He/she is now called back to the kind embrace of his loving mother with the magical spell of Norouz. There, they will together joyfully celebrate this happy reunion.
The careless child will find out about his/her own origin in the kind embrace of his/her mother, and the mother's face will bloom in finding back her lost child, shed tears of happiness for this happy occasion, cry joyfully in spring thunders, get young a nd pretty another time, and briefly speaking, like the Prophet Jacob (AS), who regained his lost sight after smelling the scent of Joseph's (AS) shirt, will be bestowed a sharp sight to see her dear child once again.
The more complex or heavier our artificial, technical civilization will become, the more urgent the need to reunion with and return to the nature's embrace.
Thus, unlike traditions, that get old and incompetent, and sometimes even useless as time goes by, Norouz gets younger, prettier and stronger with the passage of time, and that is because Norouz is a third way for reconciling between the two sides of the long cultural aware that has been going on since the era of Lao-Tso and Conficious until the recent days of Roseau and Walter.
Norouz is not merely a good chance for relaxing and being happy, but a bare need of the society and the vitally needed spiritual food for a nation.
What else is capable of brightening up cold hearts, in a dark world, based upon ever-ongoing changes, revolutions, separation and loss, disintegration and dissolving, where the only thing that is stable and never subject to change is ever-renewing itself and instability?
What else can make a nation invulnerable in the cruel path of the carriage of time, which destroys anything in its path, breaks and crashes any pillar and demolishes any base?
No nation is formed within a night, one generation's era of even two. A nation can be described as the continuous string of many generations that time, this pitiless, thoughtless sword of nature, separates their physical connections along the course of th eir history.
Unfortunately, we cannot have a two-way correspondence with our ancestors those who have formed the soil of our nation.
The horrendous, deep valley of history is dug. The long, hollow centuries have formed a great impassable gap between us and them. It is only our traditions that speaking away from the sharp eyes of the cruel time executioner, can kindly take our hands and convey us spiritually to the other side of this terrifying valley, thus reconciling between us and our glorious past, our ancestors.
It is in the holy face of these traditions that we can feel their presence by our side today, and Norouz celebrations are among the steadiest, most gracious of these traditions.
Whenever we celebrate Norouz, it is as if we are taking part in every Norouz celebration observed on this land ever since the beginning of this ceremony. That is the time when all the black and white pages of history of our ancient nation are turned one a fter the other before our curious eyes, and we eagerly eye witness their events.
Believing in the fact that our nation has always celebrated Norouz in our homeland awakens these exciting ideas in our minds that... "Why sure, every year, even in the sad year when Alexander pained the facade of this country red with the noble blood of o ur nation, by the long blazing flames which were burning the beautiful Persepolice Palace, right there in the same year, our oppressed ancestors must have celebrated Norouz more seriously and more piously, amid their sorrows.
So dearly has been Norouz celebrated in those sad years, and all the years similar to them. A cause to be cheered despite all the miseries."
It has never been an excuse to be "careless, cheap and forgetful", but a pretext to announce the lively determination of our nation to be and to continue to be and maintain strong ties with a glorious past, which the time factor and the invaders of differ ent races have always tried in vain, to wipe off the scene of existence.
Norouz has always been so dear. To Zoroastrian clergies, to sagacious old men in ancient history, to Muslims, to Shia Muslims, and to Persian speaking people all over the world.
Everyone has considered Norouz a beloved one, and talked about it sympathetically.
Even the philosophers and scientists who have considered Norouz "The first day of creation, when Ahourmazda (God, in ancient Persians mythology) created the universe in six days, and was busy till the sixth day when this job was accomplished, and that is why the first day of Farwardin (the first Iranian month of the year) is named Hourmazd and the sixth day, "The Holy Day".
What a beautiful story it is. Even prettier than reality itself! Doesn't every human being honestly feel that the first day of spring is the first day of creation repeated again?
If God set a beginning for life on earth, that day must have doubtlessly been the Norouz day. Surely, spring has always been the first season of the year. God must not have ever made summer, winter or fall the first season of the year, may!
The fist grass on earth must have surely started sprouting on the first day of spring, the rivers must have started running then, and the buds blooming which means Norouz must have always been on the first day of spring, simultaneous with the renewing of creation.
"Soul" must have surely been created in this season. Love's first bow must have stricken a heart on its first day, and the sun risen for the first time on the very same day, marking the start of the clock of universe.
Islam, which wiped off all the discrimination and colors of racism and tribalism, and changed the form of many traditions, on the contrary polished the beautiful facade of Norouz. It approved of this glorious tradition, let is sapling continue to grow and get stronger, now with a strong, gentle support, safe from extinction in the first days of introducing Islam to the Iranians.
The two great events of appointing Imam Ali (AS) as the Prophet's spiritual inheritor on Al Qadir day, and choosing him as the Calif of the Muslims and Emir of all the believers (Amirul Mu'menin) have both been on Norouz day and surely what a great coincidence!
Thus, all the abundant love, piety and belief of the Muslim Iranians in Imam Ali's (AS) right and holiness became the supporting resort for Norouz. This glorious celebration, which had begun its life with the ancient soul and love of a nation, was now dou bly fortified with the holy spirit of a great religion, Islam, as well.
A national tradition was thus intermingling with religious piety and the new strong love which had sprinkled in the hearts of these people, getting holier. During the Saffavid Dynasty's era, it even became an established Shia tradition, abundant with piet y and pure beliefs, now complete with special prayers.
As the history books reveal, "One year, when Norouz and Ashoura (the tenth day of the lunar month of Moharram, when Imam Hussein (AS) and his followers were martyred in Karbala-one of the saddest events in the history of Shia; a mourning holiday) coincide d, the Saffavid Shah spent that day mourning for Imam Hussein (AS) and celebrated the following day as Norouz!"
Norouz which is old and the dust of many centuries has set on its face, has witnessed the hymns of moqan (clergies of sun worshippers) calling and endearing it, the holy psalms of the Zoroastrians at their Fire-Temples addressed to it, Avesta's murmurs ca lling it holy names, and heavenly rhymes of Ahourmazd, praising it personally and secretly in its ears.
From then on, it has been praised with the holy verses of Qur'an and Allah's own words. Special salats (Islamic prayer, similar to five-time daily prayers) were devised for Norouz, as well as special prayers to be said at Norouz day and the moment of turn ing the year.
These were all coupled with love of Imam Ali (AS) and his just government in Shiaism. This approach pumped fresh blood in the veins of this old tradition, which has lived a long life along with all our ancestors since old days, and cheered up the moments of every one of us, with tender and profound love, always very sincerely.
The main prophesy of Norouz yet, is to polish the stains of sadness and hopelessness off the hearts of this nation, which has often been betrayed and even stabbed from behind, and blow the soul of jubilance in the corpse of this land and its people.
And yet that is not all. Norouz is responsible for strengthening the ties between the present generation and all our wise ancestors in the past on the one hand, and strengthen the ties of these all with mother nature on the other hand.
Above all, Norouz strengthens the ties of oneness among the present day Iranians, who have the bitter memories of suffering the invasions of many kinds, cruelties of both insider and outsider enemies, executioners who made minarets of their heads and mass acred many generations.
It melts the thick ice of the walls of being strangers among our nation and sows the seeds of being related to each other, flesh and blood. Thus, it fills the deep gaps of forgetfulness which often separate the hearts of different groups of the nation had it not been filled with the kindness of Norouz.
And we, in these happy moments, light the holy Ahouraian fire of Norouz once again, and deep in our conscience, tread the black death-stricken deserts of hollow centuries, and get ready to celebrate Norouz along with al the men and women, who once celebra ted this glorious national ceremony on this land. Their noble blood runs in our veins, our hearts beat happily with it and their souls once again start life in our bodies under the clear skies of Iran.
Thus, we proudly proclaim our lively existence as a happy wise nation, standing tall amid the heavy winds of horrendous incidents which are capable of uprooting any strong tree, but not our nation's.
We announce that we are alive and we will continue our proud existence on this land till the end of the time, even in this dark century when our enemies, and particularly the usurper West, are fiercely determined to make us foreign with our own culture, so that we will be their obedient slaves, with no personality of our own to rely on.
So let us renew our alliance with all our ancestors and with all the different races of our nation, as well as with our mythology in this historical intersection of time, beliefs and traditions.
Let us borrow the precious inheritance of love from them and promise to be faithful inheritors of it. Let us promise as a nation, never to die, or how in obedience to other cultures, because our roots are deeply delved into the rich culture of humankind, piety of religions and nobleness of an ancient nation that is standing tall at the great passage of history and at the scene of the whole universe.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
By Ali Shari´ati