One family's COVID-friendly way to celebrate Nowruz
Show us how you're celebrating the new year. Email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
With its origins dating back over 3,000 years ago, Nowruz, meaning "new day" in Farsi, is a festival celebrated on the first day of spring in the Iranian calendar.
"There's no right way to celebrate Nowruz," said Calgarian Shamim Alavi. Whether it be with fire-jumping, dinner parties or gift giving, each family has its own special traditions to mark the holiday. This year, many have had to alter them because of COVID-19.
The festival falls on Saturday this year and will be observed across the world, particularly in the Middle East, Central Asia and among those in the Baha'i faith.
- How are you celebrating Nowruz this year? Email your photos to email@example.com.
These photos depict how Alavi and her family, who are Baha'i, have adapted their celebrations in the wake of the ongoing pandemic while still honouring the celebratory and community spirit of the holiday.
For Baha'is like Alavi, Nowruz symbolizes the renewal of the world. Part of the Baha'i Nowruz tradition is a 19-day fast from food and drink that lasts from sunrise to sunset.
"Since we don't all live in one household, we've had to find creative and safe ways to get the family together," Alavi said.
During this time, Baha'is also focus on daily prayers and reflections.
Children are at the heart of Nowruz celebrations every year, Alavi said. "Baha'i families come together to prepare small gift bags to bring joy to the hearts of our young ones."
Whether with flowers, lights, or fruits and sweets, one can see diverse beautiful cultural expressions through Nowruz decorations. As Persians, Alavi's family sets up a "haft-seen" table during Nowruz, with seven items that symbolize health, wealth, beauty, wisdom, patience, love, light and a new life.
Some families also participate in a burst of spring cleaning in preparation for the holiday to usher in a sense of freshness and renewal to the home.
And you'd be remiss not to take note of the special sweets that help mark the holiday. Often times, the delicious snacks are shared between friends and neighbours with a cup of tea.
This year, Alavi made traditional Nowruz sweets and packaged them as gifts.
As Baha'is, Alavi and her family are encouraged during Nowruz to think of acts of service that benefit their community at large. It's central to the spirit of the festival. This year, she undertook some volunteer yardwork.
Visiting elders is also a common tradition. "I'm sure all of us cannot wait for the day we can leave the house and, once again, hug the ones we hold near and dear to our hearts," she said. This year, Zoom will have to suffice.
Every year, Alavi and her loved ones take a family photo. As they live in different households, and because of pandemic restrictions, this year's looks a bit different.
"No doubt, these pictures will mark an unforgettable time in our life," Alavi said.
- To all those celebrating, Nowruz Mubarak! Send us photos of how you're marking the new year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.