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Hansak and ravo mark Navroz celebrations

Navroz, the Parsi new year, marks the day when Shah Jamshed ascended the throne.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2005 20:11 IST

Parsis in Mumbai today celebrated their New Year (Navroz) on Saturday.

Members of the small Parsi community flocked to their sacred Fire Temple to pay respects to their prophet Zarathushtra in the country's financial capital, where the community is mostly concentrated.

The Parsi New Year's day, known as Navroz, is celebrated on August 20 and is marked by joyous fervour and gaiety. Navroz is the first day of the first month of the Zoroastrian year.

As per tradition, Parsis decorate their homes with torans or floral garlands and chalk designs, and in the evenings take part in a community get-together where all the members congregate to celebrate the occasion.

"In the evening people go out to watch movies. Different Parsi plays are organised. People enjoy watching those plays," said Manaaz Barucha, a Parsi girl.

Irani, a Parsi elder, said: "We pray to God. Then we hold celebrations throughout the day and then go out and watch movie."

Ten days prior to their New Year, Parsis also have prayers for the dead. The belief is that the spirits of the dead are present at this time and if remembered, they shower their blessings. These prayers are conducted at all Fire Temples in the city.

Food plays a very important and significant role in all Parsi festivals and Navroz is no different.

Parsi food is a delicious blend of West Indian and Indian cuisine. Parsis being non-vegetarian, fish, mutton, chicken, nuts, spices and fruits are bought a day before and a variety of dishes are prepared especially for Navroz.

On Navroz, two special dishes are served for breakfast. One is the Ravo made with Suji, milk and sugar and the other is fried vermicelli cooked in sugar syrup and sprinkled with raisins and lot of almond slivers. And of course there is the all time favourite Dhansak, a spicy hot yet almost sweet and sour curry, comprising of either meat or prawns combined with dal.

Zoroastrianism, the religion of the Parsi community, is the oldest revealed religion in the world and the basic tenet is the law of purity and righteousness. Zoroastrians worship all the natural elements but the most important is Fire.

According to estimates, there are 150,000 of Parsis in the world, and about 50,000 of them are settled in Mumbai.

According to legend 3000 years ago Shah Jamshed of the Peshadian dynasty ascended the throne on Navroz - nav meaning new and roze meaning day.

This particular day came to be known as Jamshed Navroz and is celebrated even in modern times with lot of feasting.

First Published: Aug 22, 2005 19:20 IST