Persian New Year

Being a Persian, I was so busy celebrating, I actually forgot to blog about the Persian New Year.

Just kidding—instead, I had to finish an urgent private task over the weekend and had no time to join the festivities in their full glory and unfurling but I worry not because sizdah be dar is still more than a week away, long enough to recover my bearing and call on friends and family to honor them and to wish them a happy new Persian year.

In any case, this is a great time of the year, at least for the Persians or peoples of Persian stock and culture, or influenced by Persian culture, and everyone else, for it is the very beginning of Spring, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. (Southern Hemisphere can celebrate Mehreghan, the beginning of fall, now, I suppose.)

The geographic extent of the celebration of Noruz has not been clearly established in our times. It is probably one of the most ancient celebrations still surviving very close to its original form. (Thankfully, consumerist gift exchange has not corrupted this ritual.)

In the 1980s (and perhaps earlier, from the times of Ata Turk or soon after?), it was banned in Turkey, where Istanbul's Topkapi palace still carries ornamental Persian poems on its walls and doors. I'm not sure about the status of the celebration in Persian communities of Pakistan or India. Frankly, I'm surprised that nothing of it seems to be lingering in Iraq, where the Sassanids had their capital prior to the rise of Islam. I know it is also celebrated with gusto in Azerbaijan on both sides of the border, and in certain reaches of Central Asia as well as some of the Persian Gulf islands and coastal communities.

In the meantime, let me just leave you with this note—and I'll try to update it in the coming days.

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Chetory Masood, I have very beautiful Persian Frend. U know we in India also celebrate our new year the same time you celebrate Nuroz. It reminds that we have common Aryan roots. We too grow wheat in an earthen pot and this wheat is immersed in river after 9 days. And one more thing Farsi is still used in Indian Land Record systems. I am trying to learn Farsi. :) Do u know some source on web that can help me in learning Farsi. Regards, Kumar

Posted by kumar chetan on August 20, 2005 at 04:41 PM PDT #

No, I didn't know that Persian was still used in Indian Land Record systems but it does not surprise me. Are there any copies of any these (new or old) records on the web, where one can look at them?

I have heard that Persian was the court language in India for some time and that there were more Persian documents created in India than there were in Persia proper.

Persian is a beautiful language and well-worth learning. You might try going to Iran some time for a summer to learn it at the language learning center of University of Tehran. The center is located on the Vali-Asr street. I've heard of many taking their summer courses.

Other than that, on the web, I just saw this Columbia University page on Persian.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on August 21, 2005 at 03:41 PM PDT #

slaam masood, chetory, I learned a bit Persian. Now a question for u. Is it PERSIAN or FARSI??? Am bit confused. Ppl here know Farsi. Persia or Persian is related to Parsi community. Anyway. I cud not find any online source of Indian Land Record system still using Persian language. You will be amazed to know that India produced more Persian docs than Iran did. I am not sure if this fact is still true but I can believe this was true till 1900. Regarding visiting Tehran, its tough for me but I found some online sources. This link is the best but have a small database And this is also good Still learning. Now man daram miram, :) Hope to c u again

Posted by Kumar Chetan Sharma on September 09, 2005 at 07:02 PM PDT #

This is turning into a more of an open e-mail exchange.

Good to hear from you again. That's why I used the past tense "produced" not "is producing". The comparison is for some period of history during which India was producing a great deal of Persian documents. Persian was the way the English world refered to things of Persia until Reza Khan (the last king's father) requested in the League of Nations that "Iran" be used instead of "Persia". I'm not sure who came up with that idea but I always found it suspect. So, it is Persian and Persia. "Farsi" is a completely new word in English, becoming more prevelant in the last 30 years. Again, I prefer "Persian" here. We speak of Persian poetry, never of Farsi poetry, when we speak of it in Persian, no matter what word Persian's use to refer to themselves and their language, same as we say "French," no matter what word the "French" use to refer to their language.

As far as the "Parsi-s" are concerned, they are even more closely tied with "Farsi" as an interchange of "P" and "F" should make clear. Persian culture continues not only among them but also among the peoples of the much smaller, modern day Persia (Iran) and the surround.

In closing, it is great to see that you've learned a great deal of Persian.

Hope all is going well and I hope to hear from you again soon.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on September 10, 2005 at 03:35 PM PDT #

Salaam Masood, Chetory? Hope your doing well. I was not well hence cud not respond to ur comments. I have been watching TV programs related to Iran and incidently got in touch with another Persian. Habib. Habib is doing his PhD at Punjab University Chandigarh. He told me that Iran was initially know as Persia. Persia was named after a tribe called Parth. I dont know it is Parth or Pars. Later in 1930s the then Shah of Persia named it Iran as he was influenced by some Germans. The last info was from Discovery Channel. Regarding Persia and Faras, Habib told me that Arabian language hav no "Pe" and they use "Fe" instead. So Parsi is known as Farsi. Arab influence. Habib told me one more interesting thing. He said if I know Urdu I know 30% words of Persian language. I will get back to u with more stuff. PS: wen I type tooo fast i tned to make spelling misstakes.

Posted by Kumar Chetan on September 23, 2005 at 10:57 PM PDT #

Kumar - Your friend Habib's points and your discovery channel info are all on the right track. Take care, Masood.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on September 25, 2005 at 11:00 PM PDT #

hi i want to learn persian. im indian and an english language trainer.i have many persian friends and one of them is a publisher .i want to work as a translator with him .i love the language. could you please help me .i want to learn it really fast. mersi

Posted by anni on May 23, 2006 at 10:55 PM PDT #

I'm happy to see your enthusiasm.

One way, when it comes to learning to read and write it, would be to get hold of elementary school books that are uniformly produced and distributed througout Iran, and potentially some other countries.

Iranian cultural centers, embassies and consulated throughout India might have some of these books.

Also, through these cultural centers, you may be introduced to more formal and Persian language programs (or "Persian as a second language" programs) that are available in your area. I believe some of these programs exist in many Indian cities. These would be best as they would offer a more integrated environment for learning the language.

Songs, stories, poetry, movies and other cultural products are another way to learn the language.

Your Persian friends should also be able to help you. Usually, mingling with them is another way to learn the language, very quickly.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on May 24, 2006 at 12:17 AM PDT #

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