Spring Equinox in the Avesta, Fresh, New Dawn/light of Nowrouz, and the celebration of Dawn in Zoroastrianism


The exact moment of spring equinox is the beginning of the year in the Avestan sacred hymns. The Persian word Nauv rooz refers to the “new dawn/light” after spring equinox.

The Avestan term for “vernal equinox” hamaß.paθ.maiδ.iia refers to the time when the sun has reached the “middle point” maiδ.iia of its “path” paθ from the winter to the summer solstice. Equinox is the moment when the celestial points are at the “same” hamaß distance from each other. Almut Hintze translates hamaß.paθ.maiδ.iia as “the “middle path” that is the point between winter and summer solstices.

This “fresh, new dawn” of Nauv rooz, the “first day of spring” is a reminder of the unageing “Dawn/light” which will bring the future age of the Brilliant Immortals, and the coming of the everlasting spring, the faršö kereiti, when the worlds entire will be made “splendid, glorious and brilliant” for all eternity.

The concept of faršö kereiti “to (remake) create, freshly, brilliantly, and splendidly” is of great theological and eschatological importance in Zoroastrianism. The association with spring is evident in the meaning of the term frašö the “reinvigorating nectars of spring when nature is reborn, and swells with life-giving saps.” The life-giving saps and nectars of spring allude to the coming splendid age of Immortals and god-men in an eternal spring.

On the auspicious occasion of Nauv rooz the “Fresh, New Dawn” of spring is celebrated. For the appearance of the “New Light of Spring” heralds an end to the toils of winter and frost.

 Nauv means “new” Rooz “light” comes from Avestan raôča, Vedic rociṣ-/ruci, Old English lēoht, German licht, Latin. lūx, AstLeon. lluz; Spanish luz, all going back to reconstructed Proto Indo European *lóuks/léukos– “light.”

Many Indo-European peoples had festivities to celebrate the beginning of spring or summer, the time when the sun began to shine more warmly after the winter months. However, Nauv rooz is the plainest example of the “New Dawn” becoming attached to fresh, life-giving saps and nectars of spring, and powers of reinvigoration. Other close examples include the Anglo-Saxon Eostre and her Germanic counterpart Ôstara, who have given us Easter and the Ostertage.

The custom of getting up before dawn to greet the rising sun is widely attested in the Zoroastrian ritual associated with the new-year celebrations. The “brilliant dawn” prayer formula or uš bám is a must read for every devout Zoroastrian in early morning hours.

According to the Zoroastrian tradition, on the first day of spring, the first, spring dawn is celebrated, via raising a torch or making bonfires on the high mountains, or rooftops. Beacons of hope are lit.

The ten days before the spring equinox are sacred times to honor our ancestors, and deep roots back to the very beginning. Early Spring Bonfires are lit, and people begin a period of pondering, reflection pætat. Also, every part of the house is thoroughly cleaned, dusted and washed. This is to underline the importance of purity. We must become cleansed of all negative influences before welcoming the New Year, and become fresh and pure.

The Nauv rooz table consists of seven items starting with the letter s. These seven symbolic items beginning with the letter S are a symbolic offering to the foremost 7 Speñtá “sacred, auspicious” Immortals of Zoroastrianism or Amešá/Amertá Speñtá. In Zoroastrianism, Godhood is celebrated through various aspects of good, vibrant creation.

The mirror on the Nauv rooz table reminds us to evaluate ourselves objectively, and look at ourselves truthfully. Other items include rose water and incense, lit candles and bowl of fresh, rainwater. Hyacinth flower is the special flower on the table. Apples and sour oranges are the designated fruits of the Nauv rooz table, and symbolize good health.

Garlic cloves and vinegar are also used in Nauv rooz decorations. Garlic was esteemed by the Ancient Iranians for its healing powers and a means of warding off the evil eye and demonic powers. The Achaemenid Persians named one of their months thāi-garchi– “Month/time of garlic.”

The time of vernal equinox is a sacred time, to re-evaluate our-selves objectively. It a time to make sure our roots are deep, pure, well grounded and healthy, our vision is luminous and bright, our thoughts are big, our consciousness is free from negativities and limitations, and our energy is vibrant, and pure. It is a time to experience glimpses into how our “limited time” will be succeeded by the “Time of Long Ages or the Age of the Gods” daregö xva-δátahæ as it was first in the luminous thought of Ahûrá Mazd­­á.

ardeshir

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One Response to Spring Equinox in the Avesta, Fresh, New Dawn/light of Nowrouz, and the celebration of Dawn in Zoroastrianism

  1. zaneta garratt says:

    very interesting article-many also use 7 items baginning with sh-wine, rice pudding, honey, candy, milk, syrup and sugar- the s letter objects are used in Iran as the Muslim regieme there bans the delicious drink wine

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