19 March 2018

Nowruz Festival – Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


Nowruz ,  the Persian New Year,  will be  celebrated worldwide by the Iranians tomorrow. On this festival I am sharing a special article by Raman Thapar. 

Happy Nowruz !

Nowruz (which literally means new day in Persian) is the Iranian New Year also known as Persian New Year.It is celebrated worldwide by Iranians along with some other ethno linguistic groups as the beginning of New Year. Although having Iranian and religious Zoroastrian  origins,  Nowruz has been celebrated by people from various diverse ethno linguistic communities. It has been celebrated for over 3000 years in Western Asia, Central Asia ,Caucasus, Black Sea Basin and the Balkans. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants enjoyed by people of various faiths but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians.

Nowruz is the day of vernal equinox and marks the beginning of spring in Northern Hemisphere. It marks the first day of the first month(Farvardin) in the Iranian calendar. It usually occurs on Mar 21,a day prior or later depending on where it is celebrated. The moment sun crosses the celestial equator and equalises night and day,which is calculated every year ,it is time for families to begin rituals.

A Vivid description of Nowruz celebrations in the Courts of Kings of Iran is found in Nowruznama (Book of  New Year) attributed to Omar Khayyam a well Known Persian Poet and mathematician. Before the collapse of Soviet Union, Iran was the only country which officially observed the ceremonies of Nowruz. When the Caucasian and Central Asian countries gained independence from Soviets they also declared Nowruz as National Holiday.

The United Nations recognised the International Day of Nowruz in 2010 describing it as a spring festival of Iranian origin. Nowruz is officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Iran issued a postage stamp during the First International Nowruz celebrations in Tehran on 27 Mar 2010.  

A set of Four stamps on flowers was released by Iran on 10 Mar 1984 on the occasion of Nowruz spring festivals. The Flowers on stamps are Lotus, Tulip, Matthiola and glycyrrhizaglabra (Liquorice).

A set of four stamps and FDC issued by Iran on 09 Mar 1985 to celebrate Nowruz Spring Festival. 

A set of Four stamps and FDC issued by Iran on 11 Mar 1986 to celebrate Nowruz Spring Festival. The stamps are on Poppy flowers of Iran. 

Papaver Orientale : The Oriental Poppy is a perennial flowering plant native to Caucasus, North eastern turkey and Northern Iran. The oriental poppies grow a mound of leaves that are hairy and finally dissected in spring.They gather energy and bloom in mid summer.
Papaver bracteatum : It is also known as Iranian Poppy, Persian Poppy and Great Scarlet Poppy. It is sturdy ,hardy perennial poppy with large deep red flowers up to 8 inches dia on stiff stalks four feet high.

Anemone coronaria : Also known as Poppy anemone, Spanish Marigold or Windflower native to Mediterranean region.

Anemon biflora : A small tuberous plant up to 10 cm tall. A set of Four stamps and FDC issued by Iran on 11 Mar 1987 to celebrate Nowruz Spring Festival. The stamps are on flowers of Iran. 

Iris paradoxasteven  : Paradise of Iris

Iris persica : Persian Iris is a native plant of Iran known for its beauty and fragrance
Tulips clusiana : The lady tulip is an Asian species of tulip native to Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq ,Pakistan and Western Himalayas. It is cultivated for its ornamental beauty.

Rosa damascena : Commonly known a Damask Rose or rose of Castile is a hybrid rose. Flowers are renowned for fragrance and commercially harvested for rose oil and used to make rose water. The petals are edible and used to flavor food as garnish, herbal tea and preserved in sugar as Gulkand .

A stamp was issued on 25 Mar 2015 on Global Celebration of Nowruz.

A Miniature sheet was issued by Iran on Global Celebration of Nowruz on 24 March 2016 which shows flags of countries where Nowruz is celebrated including India.


Nowruz in India – The Parsis  in India known to be the largest Zoroastrian Community celebrate the Persian New Year on Aug  . The Nowruz is celebrated in India and Pakistan almost 200 days later because People in India follow the Shehanshahi Calendar while World marks Persian New Year on the spring equinox.Shehanshahi calendar does not take into account the leap years hence the difference.

-     -  Raman Thapar- New Delhi  : email :   sahilthpr@yahoo.co.in


Note : It is a pity that on the above Miniature sheet, incomplete map of India has been shown. The correct map of India is given below for Readers' kind reference.


I refer the Mini Sheet issued by Iran in 2016 showing global celebration of Nowruz, depicting maps of various countries, including India. We should strongly object India Map shown, wherein it Part of Kashmir shown in Pakistan and Easterm Part of India is cut from India.

-Avinash J. Anaokar


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