Today is the 13th day of the new zodiac year, and to a Persian, it marks the official end to a prolonged NoRooz celebration. As a child, I could hardly wait for all the fun and games of this day. There would be an ourdoor feast with not only the family, but also a large group of extended relatives and friends. Even though the event was more of an elaborate picnic, I call it a feast because in those days, one car would leave early in the morning with all the food and the kitchen staff, planning to spread the rugs, turn on the samovar for tea, and prepare the food on cite. As for the location, because of the strong possibility of rain, it would be at someone’s orchard with at least one big room to shelter us.
Looking back, I am once again the child, looking forward to a good game of volleyball, climbing trees, or making a swing with a rope looped over a sturdy branch. In my mind I can smell the peach blossoms, touch the green fuzzy almonds, and marvel at the fields of poppies. I hear the trick-track of backgammon mixed with live dance music, and to this day, I can close my eyes and see my father play his “tar.”
Everyone took their sabzeh – green sprouts – from haftseen table and the young were encouraged to tie grass blades while making a wish. I remember watching the green sprouts floating on the stream where they were given back to nature. To this day Persians all over the world continue to observe some of these traditions, but like most childhood memories, it will never be the same.
When you think about it, the world is indeed too small. The traditions of 13 of Norooz go back more than 30 centuries, yet it happens to fall on April the first. Is it a coincidence that we, too, tell a clever lie on this particular day?
In my search for more facts on my heritage, I came across an article on Authentic Gatha Zoroastrianism and despite a few political nuances, found some of its passages most informative. For example, I believed the reason we left town was to get rid of the bad omen in number 13. However, in this article – and many others – the superstitious belief that number 13 carries any negative energy is beautifully denied.
Authentic Gatha Zoroastrianism
Authentic Zoroastrianism based on the poetic gathas and their most ancient commentaries
” –Contrary to the commonly held erroneous belief, 13 is NOT an ominous number in Zoroastrianism. Quiet to the contrary, 13 is a very auspicious number, associated with good luck and bright fortune.”
“The ancient custom of offering sabzee or the sprouted greens (lentils, barley, wheat and other sprouted grains) to the waters/streams on the 13th is an act that celebrates the power of growth and renewal. Knotting the offered sprouted greens is another ancient custom. When the knot is opened through plant growth, it is believed that luck and good fortune will open and wishes come true.”
So as you prepare to celebrate this wonderful day, I send you good thoughts and my best wishes. May your life be filled with many auspicious moments, your 13’s always lucky, and may your children remember the day with as much affection as I do.