April 1, 2023

By Heidi Trautmann….

Happy Nowruz, the beginning of a new year, the beginning of spring, the renewal of life… on March 20, when day and night are more or less equally long. It is called the Spring Equinox, valid for the Northern Hemisphere, while in the Southern Hemisphere we have the Autumn Equinox.

Since history can be followed back, it has been a significant event in many cultures around the world. However, I found out, that special rituals correspond to those of many other countries, as the welcome of new energy and hope, fertility and wealth and happiness.

Ipek Denizli as the organizer and owner of the Art Studio, welcomed the guests to this cultural event, supported by her many followers and companions. In the centre of the studio a table, the Haft-sin table, with candles burning. Next to her Mandana Mehrnia, artist, explained to us the traditional ways of her home country Iran.

In Iranian families, a table, the ‘Haft-sin table’ is set up which must contain seven important symbols starting with an ‘S’ … to learn more about it, I found the following explanation on internet in a compromised form:

Typically, before the arrival of Nowruz, family members gather around the Haft-sin table and await the exact moment of the March equinox to celebrate the New Year.  The number 7 and the letter S are related to the seven Ameshasepantas as mentioned in the Zend-Avesta. They relate to the four elements of Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and the three life forms of Humans, Animals and Plants. In modern times the explanation was simplified to mean that the Haft-sin (Persian: هفت‌سین, seven things beginning with the letter sin (س)) are:

Sabze (Persian: سبزه) – wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish.

Samanu (Persian: سمنو) – sweet pudding made from wheat germ

Persian olive (Persian: سنجد, romanized: senjed)

Vinegar (Persian: سرکه, romanized: serke)

Apple (Persian: سیب, romanized: sib)

Garlic (Persian: سیر, romanized: sir)

Sumac (Persian: سماق, romanized: somāq)

The Haft-sin table may also include a mirror, candles, painted eggs, a bowl of water, goldfish, coins, hyacinth, and traditional confectioneries. A “book of wisdom” such as the Quran, Bible, Avesta, the Šāhnāme of Ferdowsi, or the divān of Hafez may also be included. Haft-sin’s origins are not clear. The practice is believed to have been popularized over the past 100 years.

Mandana Mehrnia went on to explain, that the festivities usually last 13 days, when families get together, when the spring cleaning of the house is done and at the end a big fire is lit in the open and young people are requested to jump over it.  In Germany, at least in the Southern part, in Bavaria, we have the same traditions. Also the painting of eggs (our Easter tradition) and the decorating the house with greenery goes into the same direction.

The past is being honoured by reading out of wise books, and for that Mandana’s Mom stood up and read texts from the Holy Book, she was followed by other poets who read from Iranian legend and poetry books, while Iranian music was played in the background.

As the International Day of Poetry is being celebrated on March 21, some of our local poets and writers read some passages from their own books, Ayse Tural, Feyzan Korur and Zafer Muhtaroglu.

It is a lovely idea to have the opportunity to learn about other countries’ culture and traditions.

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