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Navroz: When spring arrives in Kashmir

SRINAGAR

Navroz, celebrated as the spring festival in Kashmir, marks advent of spring season in the valley which is heralded by blooming almond blossoms followed by budding of cherry, pear, apple.

The mesmerizing lush green meadows of the valley, surrounded by lofty mountains transform into the garden of Eden by March 21 on the day Navroz-e-Aalam.

The spring season, locally called ‘SOONTH’ in Kashmiri, which lasts until the end of April is host to the most gloriously pleasant weather wherein thousands of flowers including Gul-e-Lala (Tulips) burst in bloom exuding their fragrance across this majestic valley.

Navroz-e-Aalam, being linked to Eid-e-Ghadeer (The event of Al-Ghadeer) on 18th Dhu al-Hijjah, has great significance for Muslims and hence is celebrated as Eid-e-Navroz in Iran, parts of Afghanistan and central Asia.

Muslims in Kashmir, especially the Shia community, celebrate this pan-continental festival with utmost religious fervour and devotion.

This auspicious day is revered across the world and marks the advent of spring season in Kashmir.

Navroz, meaning new day in Persian is a highly significant day in Astronomy as well. It’s on this day the Sun completes its cycle of passing through the twelve celestial stations and enter the first one known as ‘HAMAL’.

Known in Arabic as ‘BURJ’, there are 12 celestial stations through which the 12 celestial bodies (planets) annually pass. Below are the 12 celestial stations in hierarchical order:

  1. HAMAL, 2) THAUR, 3) JAUZ, 4) SARTHAN, 5) ASAD, 6) SUMBULA, 7) MEEZAN, 8) AQRAB, 9) QUAS, 10) JADI, 11) DALV, 12) HOOTH.

Navroz is the day of the vernal equinox, and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day, depending on where it is observed. The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year.

On this day, the Sun completes its stay in the last celestial station, HOOTH, and enters the first one, HAMAL. It takes the Sun exactly 365 days, five hours, 28 minutes and 50 seconds to complete the cycle and enter the first celestial station, the event of Sun’s entry into ‘HAMAL’ is called ‘TAHWEEL’, celebrated as the New Year in Persian calendar.

Navroz is celebrated with utmost religious fervor by Shiite Muslims in Kashmir right from the advent of Islam in the valley.

As part of the festivities, traditional Kashmiri delicacies are prepared and relatives and friends invite each other for grand Navroz feasts.

Donning brand new cloths on this auspicious day is also considered to be one of traditions of celebrating Navroz in the valley.

However, melodious tunes of traditional Kashmiri ‘Rouf’ songs sung on this special occasion, which were once heard across the length and breadth of valley, now only echo in distant lands in remote rural areas.

Although having Persian and religious Zoroastrian origins, Navroz has been celebrated by people from diverse ethno-linguistic communities for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths. It also has high religious significance for Shiite Muslims as the event of Ghadeer is said to have taken place on this very day and it was on 21 March 656 AD when the first Shiite Imam, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (s), assumed the office of Caliphate.

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