PURPOSE OF THIS POST: I recommend to many communities in GB to revitalise the social procedures advocated in the video titled (Click it) INTRODUCTION also UNESCO . This I am sure will be a good step in bringing back the harmony amongst the populations.
5.3 Becoming new
How time can he made new again is a hope we find in many human communities. In many cultures, this hope is expressed through the celebration of the New Year. In this section, we focus on the festival of Nawruz which is celebrated by Shia communities and other Muslims across the world. We examine some of the meanings that are associated with new year celebrations, such as the ideas of birth, renewal, health and prosperity..
Outer practices, inner meanings
Religious festivals are occasions of celebrating faith, community, and spirituality. The sacred time provides an opportunity for the community to come together as one body of worshippers. The outward practices and ceremonies allow for the participation of all members in the festival being celebrated.
Religious festivals are also times for believers as individuals to turn inward to their own faith. The sacred time becomes personal to the believer as he or she enters into a special relationship with the sacred. At these times, believers may reaffirm their commitments to their faith, seek for forgiveness, and ask for guidance and help.
5.3 Becoming new
Images of time
Time is experienced in different ways in different cultures. In industrialised societies, for example, time is an important aspect of modern life. It is divided finely into hours minutes and seconds by which people organise their activities. In pre-modern cultures, in contrast, life had a different rhythm and pace. Time was experienced through natural events, such as the rising and setting of the sun every day, and the changing of’ the seasons every year.
The sense of the passing of time, however, is common to all human beings. Since the life of an individual is finite, time is often viewed as being limited. As people grow old, they have an increasing sense of time ‘running out for them. Time becomes viewed as something precious and not to be wasted.
In poetry, time is represented through many metaphors and images. It is viewed as a tyrant that is faithful to no one. It deceives youths by making them feel that their life will not end, but abandons them to death as they grow old. It is seen as a relentless wheel that does not wait or stop for anyone, but continues to march on, indifferent to all circumstances. Time is also seen as decaying or eroding life. It corrupts everything that is new and makes it old.
The renewal of time
In the face of decaying life, we find the human hope of time being renewed. This hope is reflected through events in nature and in human life, a new day or a new year holds promise of a new beginning. The birth of babies symbolizes the promise of new life.
The season of spring reflects the human hope of the renewal of time. In winter, much of the vegetation dies away and the landscape becomes barren. Few animals can be seen, and there is little activity in nature. In spring, the whole of nature comes to life. Plants sprout up again, and flowers begin to blossom. Animals start foraging for food, and giving birth to their young. The world becomes new again.
The arrival of spring is celebrated in many cultures. People rejoice at the ending of winter, hold flower festivals, and celebrate the new season of spring with dancing, merriment, and feasts.
New years Day
In some cultures, time beginning of spring is also the start of a new year. On 21st March every year, the sun is directly overhead the equator. At this time, spring begins in the northern hemisphere. The celebration of the arrival of spring is combined with the celebration of New Year’s Day. Many Muslim communities observe the festival of Nawruz on this day.
The Muslim year is based on a lunar calendar in which time is marked by the revolution of the moon around the earth. It takes the moon 29.5 days to complete one cycle around the earth. In the lunar calendar, one year consists of 354 days. The first month in the Muslim calendar is Muharram. The first ten days of Muharram are a period when Muslims commemorate the death of Imam Husayn and his family at the battle of Karbala.
The festival of Nawruz is based on the solar calendar. One year in the solar calendar is the time it takes for the earth to complete one revolution around the sun. This time is equal to about 365 and 1/4 days. On 21st March every year, the earth returns to the same place in its orbit after having completed one cycle around the sun.
The origins of the Nawruz festival are believed to lie in ancient Persia. It was the first day of the Persian solar year. On this day, the kings held a great feast, and it was customary to present them with gifts. The ordinary people gathered to make marry in the streets sprinkled each other with water and lit fires. These customs were adopted in other lands too, such as Syria, Iraq and Egypt.
After the coming of Islam, the festival of Nawruz remained as one of the festivals celebrated by Muslim communities. For some Shia Muslim communities, Nawruz is also important because they believe that this day coincides with the birthday of Hazrat Ali.
The celebration of Nawruz
In the past Nawruz was an important festival in many Muslim cultures. In Persia and Fatimid Egypt, it was marked by great festivities. In the Ottoman Empire it was celebrated as a public holiday. Today Nawruz is celebrated by many Muslim communities all over the world. (Click the links to see some examples).
The rituals and ceremonies performed during Nawruz celebrations are of ancient origins. They have become adapted and modified by different cultures, and as times have changed.
In Iran, the Nawruz festival is spread over thirteen days. The preparation for the festivals begins several weeks beforehand. The houses are spring-cleaned new clothes are bought, and food is prepared for the festival. One week before Nawruz, people light piles of thorn and brushwood, and then the jump over the fires.
Families also prepare the haft-sin, or seven items beginning with the letter ‘sin’ in Persian. These items include, for example sib (apple), sir (garlic), sumak (sumac), sinjid (jujube). samanu (a kind of sweetmeat), sirka (vinegar) and sabzi (greens). These items are placed on a cloth spread on the floor in front of a mirror. On the actual day of Nawruz the families visit one another with gifts, and hold a feast. On the thirteenth day, many go for a picnic in the country.
The rituals and ceremonies performed during Nawruz are rich with meaning. They refer to new beginnings, health, prosperity and well-being that family’s hope they will experience in the New Year.
A time of renewal
The festival of Nawruz lends itself to being celebrated at many levels in a community. As a social celebration, it is a time when families and communities come together. It serves to strengthen the bond of love within families and of friendship between different groups of people.
It is also provides an opportunity for people to reflect on and practice the ethical message of Islam. Nawruz is a time of forgiveness and new beginnings. It is also a time when people extend good will help and support towards those in need. The values of generosity and hospitality play an important part in the celebrations.
Nawruz also leads people to reflect on their personal lives. They think of their achievements and failures during the past year, and make resolutions for the new one. The aspirations to improve the quality of one’s life, and of those for whom one is responsible, become the goals for a new year.
Nawruz invites people to reflect on the concepts of renewal in their inner lives. The spiritual life calls for constant reinforcement of one’s commitment to one’s faith. Nawruz is a time when believers reflect on their faith; they seek for ways in which they can renew their relation with the sacred.
Compare the festival of Nawruz with a new year’s festival celebrated in another religious tradition. What are some of the similarities and differences in the way the two festivals are celebrated?
In recent times, festivals have become increasingly commercialized. They are events when many people spend large sums of money. Discuss whether festivals are losing their original meaning.
What are some of the factors that lead to changes in the way that festivals are celebrated or how religious practices are performed?
Nawruz is an example of a festival in Muslim cultures that is based on the concept of the renewal of time.
Review of Uni-5: The wheel of time
5.3 Becoming new
Ø How is time experienced in various cultures and periods? How do people interpret the passage of time?
Ø What kinds of events in nature reflect the human hope in the renewal of time?
Ø What is the Nawruz festival? Where did it originate, and which communities celebrate it today?
Ø What de we learn from the Iranian story about the importance that Nawruz has for the people who celebrate it?
Ø What kinds of symbols are used in the festival that bring out its various meanings?