Photo gallery: Nowruz – Iranian New Year Food and Sweets

The main dish for Nowruz is Sabzi Polow Mahi (Sabzi Polow = Rice with fresh herbs, Mahi = Fish). In addition you have Kookoo/Kuku Sabzi (an Iranian Frittata made of fresh herbs and optionally barberries and walnuts). Besides this you have all kinds of sweets, some of them are depicted below:

Sources:

Tumeric and Saffron 1, 2, 3My persian kitchen 1, 2, Persian mama, Iran review, Bottom of the pot

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Nowruz – The Iranian New Year

Nowruz (meaning Now=new and ruz=day “The New Day”) is the name of the Iranian New Year. It marks the first day of spring or Equinox and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar and is officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Nowruz is celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians. It originated in Persia in one of the capitals of the Achaemenid empire in Persis in Iran and is also celebrated by the cultural region that came under Iranian influence.

Countries that have Nowruz as a public holiday include the following: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, India, Iran, Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan), Kazakhstan, Mongolia (regional state holiday only), Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Nowruz traditions
Spring cleaning
, or Khouneh Tekouni (literally means ‘shaking the house’) or ‘complete cleaning of the house’ is commonly performed before Nowruz. Persians and Kurdish and Lure Kurdish, Azerbaijanis, and start preparing for the Nowruz with a major spring-cleaning of their houses, the purchase of new clothes to wear for the new year and the purchase of flowers (in particular the hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous).

In association with the “rebirth of nature”, extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. This is also extended to personal attire, and it is customary to buy at least one set of new clothes. On the New Year’s Day, families dress in their new clothes and start the twelve-day celebrations by visiting the elders of their family, then the rest of their family and finally their friends. On the thirteenth day families leave their homes and picnic outdoors, as part of the Sizdah Be-dar ceremony.

During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Sīn on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the youth will visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later. When in previous year, a family member is deceased, the tradition is to visit that family first (among the elders). The visits naturally have to be relatively short, otherwise one will not be able to visit everybody on their list. A typical visit is around 30 minutes, where you often run into other visiting relatives and friends who happen to be paying a visit to the same house at that time. Because of the house visits, you make sure you have a sufficient supply of pastry, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and special nuts on hand, as you typically serve your visitors with these items with tea or sherbet.

Click a photo and browse to the gallery to see the different elements of the Haft-Sin and their symbolic meaning:

Haft Sīn (Haft=seven Sin=S “The seven ‘S’s”) is a major traditional table setting of Nowruz. The Haft Sīn items are:

  • Sabzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing green environment, happiness and rebirth.
  • Samanu – a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat – symbolizing affluence.
  • Senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing firmness and tolerance.
  • Sīr – garlic – symbolizing health.
  • Sīb – apples – symbolizing beauty and love.
  • Somaq – sumac berries –symbolizing patience.
  • Serkeh – vinegar – symbolizing development and evolution.

Other symbolic items can be:

  • Sekkeh – Coins – representing wealth
  • Lit candles – enlightenment and sunrise.
  • a Mirror – symbolizing cleanliness and honesty
  • Decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family – fertility
  • A bowl of water with goldfish – life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving. As an essential object of the Nowruz table, the goldfish is also “very ancient and meaningful” and with Zoroastrian connection.
  • Rosewater – purity and cleanness.
  • The national colours – for a patriotic touch
  • A holy book (e.g., the Avesta, Qur’an or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnameh or the Divan of Hafiz)

Sources: wikipedia | Nowruz, Tumeric & Saffron 1, 2

UNHCR: Afghan girl who came as refugee to Iran enjoyed the Iranian education system and is now obsterics surgeon

Afghan refugee Nasibah is now an obstetrics surgeon in Iran, an achievement she and her family never felt possible.


Afghan refugee Nasibah Heydari sits in her office. With hard work and determination, she has achieved a dream by qualifying to become an obstetrics surgeon in Iran.

Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Nasibah’s farmer father, her mother and older sister fled to Iran from a small village in Kandahar province. After several days walking across mountains, rivers and deserts, they sought refuge in north-east Iran. Empty-handed, they settled in the city of Mashhad, where Nasibah was later born.

“The chance to access education from primary school to university is the greatest service that Iran has extended me and many other refugees in this country,” said Nasibah. Her story is just one example of how Iran, with the support of UNHCR, tries to provide support to refugees through education, health, vocational skills and opportunities so they can eventually help rebuild their own country.

There are more than 840,000 Afghan refugees living in Iran. The Iranian government assists refugees with medical services, education, literacy classes and also employment.

Nasibah hopes peace and stability will prevail in Afghanistan so she can return. “When I go back I will take many good memories from Iran and I will be grateful to have had the opportunity to have lived and studied in peace and security for such a long time. I hope in the future, I will be able to help women back home with the knowledge I have acquired in Iran,” she said.

http://www.payvand.com/news/14/jun/1190.html

 

UNHCR Praises Iran for Supporting Foreign Refugees

Head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)‘s Office in Tehran Sivanka Dhanapala praised Iran’s performance in hosting and aiding foreign refugees, specially the Afghans. Dhanapala announced on Thursday that Iran has been successful in hosting the highest number of refugees in the world, and praised the country’s contribution to the promotion of refugees’ welfare and upgrading their educational level.

Afghan refugee boys in Iran (source: UNHCR)

Afghan refugee boys in Iran (source: UNHCR)

The literacy rate of the Afghan refugees that stood at six percent upon arrival in Iran, dramatically rose to 60 percent in 2013, he said, adding that this is an indication of Iran’s success in that regard.

“No host country can gain such an achievement,” Dhanapala said.

Praising Iran’s hospitality, he said, along with Lebanon and Pakistan, Iran has been the major refugee hosting country around the world.

Iran has been a generous host for more than 2 million Afghan refugees for two decades, with little help from the international community.

http://www.payvand.com/news/14/jun/1197.html