Naw’roz comes when spring blossoms on Earth, when the trees are crowned with leaves, when you hear the nightingale pour out its song for the rose, when the orchards hang out its lanterns. It is a season to celebrate, to enjoy and an expression of elation for body’s soul. To experience this magnificent beauty of nature my soul goes on dancing and my thoughts turn towards Him who creates everything. You may not perceive Him but you can feel His presence there on the lips of the rose or in the song of the Nightingale- chanting out loudly “He is here, He is here”.
Naw’roz or Navroz is a Persian word which means “New Day”/ “New Light”. It is the first day of Persian calendar which falls on 21st March of each year. The history of Nav’roz goes back to many hundreds of years ago. It is believed by some that it was the day of Nav’roz when Hazrat Adam(a.s) was bestowed with the soul. It was the day of Nav’roz when Hazrat Abrahim(a.s) destroyed the idols. It was the day of Nav’roz when Hazrat Noah (a.s)’s Ark got rescued. It was the day of Nav’roz when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) received the first revelation. It was the day of Navroz when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) revealed the final message at Ghadir-e-Khum.-(Imam Jafar Sadiq -6th Imam of Shia Muslims quoted in Bilhar al-Anwar). Further the significance of the day is also explained in many poems of Shams Tabriz (mentor and master of Rumi) which is also followed by his students in the now famous Mathnawi. Scholars, philosophers from different schools of thoughts have also penned down the beauty of Nav’roz on various stages.
Every community celebrates Nav’roz in their own unique ways. It is celebrated in various parts of the world. In Pakistan, it is celebrated by Shia school of thoughts particularly by Ismailis. I grew up in a very beautiful valley of Pakistan-Chitral, where inhabitants greet this festival with wild jubilation. The green season all around the landscape makes the village a true fairyland. Birds sing in spring, brightly colored flowers sprout up everywhere and give different look to the valley.
Nav’roz in local tongue called “Pathak” being the famous festival of Chitral among the Ismaili Muslims marks the arrival of spring. It is worth seeing and experiencing the day in Chitral especially the way the rituals are being carried out. I remember some memories of my childhood. At around dawn people clean their houses and get ready for the new day. They wear new clothes and visit each other’s homes to share the happiness. They believe that whatever they do on the first day will influence the rest of their year. The traditional foods of Chitral are must of the day to serve the guests. Boys and girls in separate groups go to each other’s homes to greet one another. Upon the arrival of the guests the host family members greet them in traditional way. A pinch of flour is showered on the right shoulder of the guests as mark of respect. Various games are also organized on this day.
Another reason to celebrate this season is to mark the successful conclusion of Sufi/Pir Nasir Khusraw’s 40 days of meditation. Khusraw was a Fatimid era Ismaili dai (mystic),poet and philosopher who was the first Sufi to seed Islam in Central Asia, Afghanistan and in north of Pakistan. With a little inquiry I’m honoured to come to understand the historically “Pathak” (Nav’roz) used to be common Chitrali festival celebrated as seed sowing ritual. Since 1980s when Gen. Zia ul Haq started sowing the seeds of terrorism and sectarianism; the festival became exclusively Ismaili. Pathak still remains a binding source among the Chitrali community. Let’s celebrate nav’roz day with the same jubilation as we used to before!
E’ed Nav’roz (Nishat Afroz) Mubarak to all of you. ” Boombarako Boshad”
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