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Nowruz, also known as Novruz, is a celebration that marks the first day of spring. It has its roots in Zoroastrianism, Iran’s pre-Islamic religion, and was celebrated in most of the ancient Near East as early as three thousand years ago. People from all across the world, from West Asia and the Caucasus to Central Asia and South Asia, including Pakistan, celebrate Nowruz for thirteen days, each with their unique local adaptations.
Read further to learn about the dates, history, and significance behind the Nowruz celebration in Pakistan.
Nowruz 2023 dates and calendars
This year, Nowruz falls on 21 March 2023. Nowruz is an optional holiday in Pakistan; schools and businesses remain open on the day.
How do Pakistanis celebrate Nowruz?
Nowruz is observed by the Shia, Ismaili, and some Hazara communities in Pakistan, although it is not observed by the rest of the population. Baloch people are generally present at the celebrations of this traditional event.
The theme of purity and rebirth is central to many spring festivities. Activities centered on renewal, such as cleaning, planting trees, making new garments, and decorating eggs, remain popular prior to Nowruz.
The day before Nowruz, relatives’ graves are visited and cared for, and the entire family would gather around the table to savor traditional delicacies. A khoncha, a big silver or copper dish with Samani (wheat) in the center and candles and painted eggs signifying the number of family members around it, will be set on the table. At least seven dishes will be served at the feast.
Nowruz colour 2023
During Nowruz, people usually dress in a variety of colours such as dark green, crimson, black, and blue, depending on their culture.
History and significance of Nowruz
The predominant Shia group in Pakistan migrated from Iran, therefore they used to celebrate their traditional events there as well. Apart from that, some Shias who have not immigrated from Iran consider that since Iran, their motherland commemorates this day, they should do it as well, as a way to present themselves as Shia Muslims.
According to some Shia Muslims interpretations, Nowruz is the day when Hazrat Ali (R.A) ascended the throne of the Islamic Khilafah. A small percentage of Muslims think that Nowruz is the day when the universe took a step. On this day, Hazrat Adam was also born. Some Muslims believe Hazrat Ali was born on this day as well.
A month before the festival, the preparations for Nowruz begin. The four Tuesdays preceding Nowruz are each dedicated to different elements. The first is Water Tuesday, which celebrates how water rejuvenates nature. The following day is Fire Tuesday, which celebrates fire as a means of renewal. Then there’s Earth Tuesday, which commemorates the earth’s rebirth. Finally, on Wind Tuesday, the wind blows open the buds, signalling the start of Spring.
Fire worshipping is an important aspect of the festivities, with flames being kindled on each of the four Tuesdays leading up to Nowruz. On the final Tuesday of the month, everyone is required to jump over the fire as a purification ritual.