Navrooz, also pronounced as Nowruz, is a celebration commemorating the Iranian and Persian New Year. While Nowruz signifies a new beginning and also marks the formal arrival of the spring season, this day is meant to celebrate the event when the sun crosses the celestial equator; day and night are the same. Recognizing the importance of this ancient rite, Nowruz was inscribed on UNESCO’s representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. Moreover, in 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as International Day of Nowruz.
In Kashmir, Nowruz is celebrated with great enthusiasm and traditionally symbolizes the renewal of nature. People rejuvenate their life for future activities after winter break. Activities associated with this day are reflecting its significance for the people residing in this part of the world-Kashmir.
Agricultural activities: The agrarian society of Kashmir considers this day very auspicious. According to the local traditions, farmers believe that seeds sown on Nowruz bloom into a healthy plant. The life span of a crop and its production remain good if sown on this date or afterward. Various social or environmental organizations and government departments join hands together in conducting massive plantation drives across the valley for preserving the rapidly deteriorating environment. The International Day of Forests is also observed on the same day every year.
Nowruz-Khund: People considered a shower of rain on this particular occasion as a good omen for future endeavors. This short spell of rain is commonly known as “Nowruz-Khund” which blesses our earth mother with bountiful harnessing qualities
Leach therapy: This is an old practice and dates back to 200 BC. The practitioners believe that leach therapy cures many diseases like skin diseases, arthritis, chronic headaches, sinusitis, etc. This therapy is used because of the severe cold in Kashmir which leads to scars and other chronic diseases. Many people think attaching live leeches to the human body can cure chronic diseases. This old-age traditional method of curing diseases is still prevailing in Kashmir.
Preparation of special dishes: The celebrations also include customary cooking of delicacies foods. People love to cook different dishes including Kashmiri’s famous Nadru (lotus stem) and other Wazwaan dishes. People on this day share sweets and dry fruits including walnuts and candies, cleaning their houses. This tradition is mostly prevalent in the Shia community. While sharing various kinds of gifts with their neighbors, relatives, and friends, they never show any bias. This day is celebrated with fun and frolic in the valley, and people wish their families and friends.
Haroon Rashid Bhat is a teacher and can be reached at [email protected]