TUESDAY, JULY 20: Today, we wish “Happy New Year!” to Zorastrians who follow the ancient Qadimi calendar! And we include Noruz greetings to Iranians from President Obama that he recorded back in March, when the majority of Iranians celebrated Noruz. The video, below, is worth watching to see how deeply religious holidays and festivals connect with global issues.
But first, why is there another Noruz in mid summer? It’s because the Zoroastrian tradition preserves a number of calendars and the ancient Qadimi calendar marks the date today. (Read more at the BBC’s site.) For nearly 3,000 years, this day has raised hopes for new beginnings. The word literally means “New Day” or “New Light.”
No, there aren’t many Zoroastrians in the U.S., but their faith still ranks as one of the world’s most influential. Zoroastrian tradition includes some of the world’s first teachings about heaven, hell and a last judgment. The faith was popular in the ancient world and became a major influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Zoroastrians have distinctive beliefs about the moment of creation, and that moment defines their Noruz. Devotees believe that the world was created in seven stages, and although God existed before His great creation, he was not God; by creating “all that is good,” this being became God. (The London Grid For Learning has details.) Just as God became God when He created the world, Noruz occurred when the world acquired a life cycle. When the sun began to move, day and night came to be, seasons came and went and animals reproduced, the life cycle began. Noruz is the most important date in the Zoroastrian year.
Earlier this year, President Obama extended Noruz wishes to all Iranians, as they and Zoroastrians of the Fasli tradition marked this holiday in March. You should see a video screen below, where you can watch the 4.5-minute film (or you can jump to the official White House site and see the Obama Noruz video there). In the message, Obama not only greets Iranians, but he also points out the need to resolve long-standing problems in light of the new year. He even brings up the tragic shooting of a young woman in the midst of earlier street protests—a highly emotional memory for Iranians seeking greater freedom. The film clip illustrates how leaders can benefit from knowing various religious holidays, showing respect for their longstanding traditions and encouraging positive action. You might find that holiday greetings to colleagues and neighbors are more important than you realized!
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)