Quite a lot of noise was made about this Nowruz on March 21.
It penetrated the western conscious because President Obama sent a video message to Iran’s people and government, stressing new beginnings a lot and calling for “a future where the old divisions are overcome”.
All very appropriate: Nowruz means ‘new day’ in Persian, and according to one 10th century scholar, it is the belief of the Persians that Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion.
The celebration is meant to have earlier, Zoroastrian origins. Persian and Zoroastrian traditions mingle in one of this Cat’s favourite drinking toasts, as it is recorded by another 10th century luminary, Omar Khayyam.
Khayyam describes the Zoroastrians’ High Mobad’s ritualised greeting of pre-Islamic Kings of Persia on the first day of the new year: the High Mobad arrives bearing gifts (a golden goblet full of wine, a ring, gold coins, green sprigs of wheat, a sword, and a bow), and addresses the king thus:
O Majesty, on this feast of the Equinox, first day of the first month of the year, seeing that thou hast freely chosen God and the Faith of the Ancient ones; may Surush, the Angel-messenger, grant thee wisdom and insight and sagacity in thy affairs. Live long in praise, be happy and fortunate upon thy golden throne, drink immortality from the Cup of Jamshid; and keep in solemn trust the customs of our ancestors, their noble aspirations, fair gestures and the exercise of justice and righteousness. May thy soul flourish; may thy youth be as the new-grown grain; may thy horse be puissant, victorious; thy sword bright and deadly against foes; thy hawk swift against its prey; thy every act straight as the arrow’s shaft. Go forth from thy rich throne, conquer new lands. Honor the craftsman and the sage in equal degree; disdain the acquisition of wealth. May thy house prosper and thy life be long!
Personally, this Cat is keen on its horse being puissant, victorious. But such preferences aside, it’s not a bad set of wishes about the sort of ruler one would want. In similar(ish) vein, President Obama’s video message is a decent set of wishes about how one would want grown-up countries to behave towards each other when, given how much it might matter, there is very little guidance.