17 August: Parsi New Year Navroz celebrated

Parsi New Year, also known as Navroz or Jamshedi Navroz, is celebrated every year on August 17 to mark the beginning of the new Iranian calendar. In Persian, Nav means new and Roz means day and together translating to ‘new day’. It is celebrated for health, wealth, prosperity and productivity. The central feature of this festive day is visiting Fire Temple and offering prayers to deities Khorshed and Meher, who are considered the presiding deities of sun and moon respectively.

Background

Jamshedi Navroz got its name from legendary King of Persia – Jamshed, who is said to have introduced solar calculation in Parsi Calendar. In Iran and other parts, Zoroastrians celebrate Persian New Year using Fasli/Bastnai calendar according to which this day falls on moment of Vernal Equinox and marks beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, mostly falls on March 21st every year. However, Parsis in India follow Shahenshahi calendar (which does not account for leap years) and hence Persian New Year in India is celebrated mostly on August 17th, approximately 150-200 days after its original day of vernal equinox (Spring Equinox). Celebrations of Jamshedi Navroz or Parsi New Year are similar to Nowruz spring festival where people celebrate commencement of New Year amidst exchange of gifts, donations, new clothes, house cleaning and lots of fun and frolic.

Zoroastrians

Parsis (are also known as Zoroastrians) as they follow Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest known monotheistic religions founded by Prophet Zarathustra or Zoroaster (Greek) in Pre-Islam era of ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago in 650 BC. After the invasion of Islamic armies in 7th Century, Zoroastrians fled Persia and mainly dwelled in India.

India is home to the largest group of Parsis from around the world where the community has been a significant part of the economic and industrial growth of the country and lives in harmony with various other religions like Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and many more.

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