Cultural Highlight: Navroz


The Armaan Family

Armaan and his family during pre-COVID times.

On the spring equinox, people from many countries in the Middle East and Central Asia celebrated Navroz, also known as Nowruz, to mark the start of the spring and the New Year. The word Navroz comes from two Persian words, “nav,” and “roz,” and means “new day.” Navroz provides families an opportunity to reflect, re-examine priorities, and connect with one’s faith.

The earliest celebrations of Navroz trace back nearly 3,000 years in Western Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Today, Navroz is observed as a national holiday in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In 2010, the United Nations officially recognized March 21 as “International Navroz Day.”

Each year, families and friends celebrate Navroz by praying, eating delicious food from East African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cuisines, dancing, listening to music, and wishing each other “Navroz Mubarak!” or “Happy New Year!” This year, due to worldwide COVID-19 restrictions, many in-person celebrations were canceled. However, many celebrated online by viewing live shows with prayer recitations, musical performances, and talks given by members of the community, to maintain the same feeling of togetherness as in normal years. 

My family and I usually celebrate Navroz by first visiting our mosque to pray for prosperity, safety, good health, and success in the upcoming year. We then host a big gathering at our house. Our whole extended family comes together to reminisce over the past year, eat East African and South Asian food, and listen to family stories dating back generations. Aliya Nurmohammed ’22 said, “My family celebrates Navroz by cooking a large traditional meal consisting of biryani, chicken curry, chicken samosas, and cake, which we eat with friends and family while listening to South Asian music. We also go to the mosque to pray and celebrate with ginans, which are a sort of prayer song.” 

I wish you all Navroz Mubarak! May the new year bring good health, happiness, and peace.