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According to tradition, the Sal Tahvil or the Sa’ate Tahvil is the first moment of the new year. Every year the equinox occurs at a different point in time, so the date, although accurately measured (to the day and time) is different each year, but close to March 21st. The Sofreh Haft Sin (Haft Seen) is the cloth spread on the floor, around which the family gather to celebrate the New Year. It is the focal point of the celebration and as such Iranians take great care and pride in putting together a lavish and elaborate spread to signify all that they want in the new year. The word Haft Sin means seven Ss. Sofreh means cloth usually a nice rich material or embroidered fabric. On the cloth are laid the seven specific things that start with “s”. The sofreh is prepared a day or two before Norooz, placed either on the floor or on a table and remains there for about two weeks after Norooz. In addition to the seven items, you may find additional items on the sofreh that will signify renewal, happiness, wealth, good health, or anything that you desire for the New Year. The contents of the Haft Sin are usually: sabzeh (green sprouts), senjed (a sweet, dry fruit of a lotus tree), samanu (wheat pudding), sib (apple), serkeh (vinegar), seer (garlic), sekkeh (gold coin) plus gold fish. The gold fish in a clear white bowl represents life and joy. And of course a volume of the Holy Koran is always an important part of the Haft Sin.
Zoroastrianism has a rich heritage of mythological and astrological symbolism that illustrates the significance of Norooz. This symbolism is reflected in the stone relief of the great palace and ritual center of Persepolis, built by the Achaemenid kings of the first great Persian Empire (c. 600 BC – 330 BC). Carved in the walls of Persepolis in relief is the symbol of the lion attacking the bull. These animals stand for the sun (lion) and the rain (bull). They stand for summer (the lion, or Leo, ruling during the summer) vanquishing the bull (ruling during the rainy season), symbol of rains. Other carvings at Persepolis show processions of nobles and representatives of the various peoples of the Persian Empire bringing gifts to the Persian king, during the Norooz festivities. In Zoroastrianism, light is the great symbol of God and Goodness, whether it be the light of the sun or of the sacred fire. The spring equinox and the lengthening of the days is thus a symbol of the victory of light over darkness and of warmth over the cold of winter.

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Additional Photos by Mehrdad Tadjdini (mehrdad-t) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 49 W: 130 N: 1005] (4710)
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