Zoroastrians, Baha’is usher in the New Year | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Zoroastrians, Baha’is usher in the New Year

mumbai Updated: Mar 21, 2010 01:39 IST
Aarefa Johari
Aarefa Johari
Hindustan Times

On Saturday night, while members of the Irani Zoroastrian community start laying decorative tables with fruits, candles and wine in their homes, the city’s Baha’is will gather at their community centre to break the last of their 19-day fast.

Both communities, originally from Iran, will bring in the Irani New Year on Sunday with their own sets of traditions and rituals.

Parsis in India follow three religious calendars, and March 21, the day of the spring equinox, is celebrated as Navroze according to the Fasli (harvest-based) calendar of Iran.

“On Navroze, ours will be an open house, for relatives to share lunch, pray and celebrate,” said Sanober Irani (56) a homemaker from Napeansea Road.

She added that like the Chinese New Year, Navroze comes with a new animal and colour — leopard and brown this year.

Irani is one of the many Zoroastrians who will set up the traditional ‘Haftashin’ table at her home for 10 days starting Sunday.

This holy table is laden with fruits, lamps, the prophet’s photograph and seven items beginning with the letter ‘sh’ — sheesha (mirror), sharab (wine), shilooneh (jujube), shir (milk), shirini (sweets), sherbet (rosewater) and shaamin (candles).

“In the 10 days before Navroze, the souls of the departed come to bless and mingle with their loved ones,” said Khojeste Mistree, a trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, explaining the added spiritual significance of the festival.

For the Baha’is, Naw-ruz is the first day of the Badi calendar, which has 19 months of 19 days each. They observe it as one of their nine holy days, when all work is suspended.

“Before New Year, we observe a month of fasting and spiritual meditation, and abstain from material and physical desires,” said Tahirih Gaur, a writer and spokesperson for the city’s Baha’i community.

“Naw-ruz is a day for celebration and feasting.”

At the Baha’i centre at Churchgate, more than a hundred Baha’is from south Mumbai will gather to mingle, dance, and recite a prayer revealed by their prophet Baha’u’llah on that day.