The Parsis in India, known to be the single largest group of the Zoroastrian religious community, will celebrate the Persian New Year on August 17, this year. The Parsis or the Persians, include Iranis who migrated to the then Gujarat region (now a part of which is in Pakistan) when Persia was invaded by Islamic armies in the seventh century. While Zoroastrians across the world celebrated their New Year on March 21 this year, closer home the community will celebrate Navroz today.
Why India and Pakistan celebrate the Parsi New Year in July-August?
People in India and Pakistan follow the Shahenshahi calendar, while the Iranian calendar across the world marks the Persian New Year on the spring equinox. The Shahenshahi calendar does not take into account leap years and as a result of which, the Parsi New Year is celebrated in India and Pakistan about 200 days after it is celebrated across the world. The date usually falls in between July and August. It is also known as Jamshed-i-Nouroz, after the name of the Persian king Jamshed who introduced the Parsi calendar. Mostly celebrated by people in regions like the USA, the Middle-East and Pakistan, in India the festival is prominently celebrated in regions of Maharashtra and Gujarat, where it is also a regional holiday.
The celebrations begin on the eve of the New Year and is known as Pateti. The emperor Jamshed is believed to have begun the celebrations some 3,000 years ago. The day when both North Pole and South Pole have equal duration of day and night is the spring equinox and that is the day when Pateti is celebrated. It falls in the month of August, according to the Gregorian calendar. People pray for prosperity, health and wealth on this day. It is also believed to the day of remittance of sins and repentance. Zoroastrians dedicate the day to cleaning their minds and souls from the evil deeds and thoughts that they possessed till then and renew their spirits wit positivity, peace and love.
One of the most significant festivals of the community, they come together to celebrate over the delicious Parsi cuisine. Prawn Patio, Mori Dar, Patra Ni Macchi, Haleem, Akoori, Falooda, Ambakalya, Dhansak, Ravo, Sali Boti, Saffrom Pulao etc. are some of the dishes served up as the Navroz spread. The Parsis dress up in their best traditional clothes and visit ‘Agiary’ also known as fire temples. There, they make offerings of fruits, sandalwood, milk and flowers to the fire on this auspicious day.