Nowruz exhibition sprouts new beginnings for a new year

Celebrated by over 300 million people worldwide, Nowruz marks the first day of spring, the vernal equinox, and the expectation of a prosperous and happy year. The ancient poet Jalaluddin Rumi called it a rebirth “on our planet and in our souls.” 

Nowruz, or “new day,” is a Persian festival celebrated for 13 days, beginning with the first day of spring. The holiday promotes peace and unity and is rich in folkloric tradition and symbolism.

The Henry Madden Library is hosting Nowruz, an art exhibition recognizing the Persian New Year. The Nowruz Exhibition is open during library hours March 3-19 in the Ellipse Gallery on the second floor of the Henry Madden Library and features colorful clothing, artifacts, books and maps.

Clothing displayed in the Nowruz exhibition
Clothing displayed in the Nowruz exhibition

For the faculty advisor of the Middle East Studies Club and organizer of the exhibition, Dr. Negin Tahvildary, personal tragedy makes this year’s celebration especially meaningful. 

“I lost both parents in the past two years, and during this time of the year, my mom would have always called to make sure I have all items for Haft-Seen table,” said Tahvildary. “I am grateful to the Henry Madden Library Diversity Community for the opportunity to celebrate my New Year and share it with my campus family. I am sure this will make my mom very happy.”

The Haft-Seen table serves as the central part of the festivity. In Farsi, Half-Seen means seven “S” — representing the seven essential items that start with the letter “S.”

  1. Sabzeh: sprouts represent rebirth.
  2. Samanu:  wheat sprout pudding represents transformation.
  3. Seeb: apple represents beauty.
  4. Senjed: the sweet, dry fruit of the Lotus tree represents love.
  5. Seer:  garlic represents health.
  6. Somaq: sumac berries represent good conquers evil.
  7. Serkeh: vinegar represents patience.
Haft-Seen table
Haft-Seen table

Ten to 15 days before spring, families prepare the grains that germinate and grow in a dish of water. Fresh green blades spring up as a token of hopes to come. 

“This event will be an opportunity for our campus and the Fresno community at large to experience the rich cultural traditions of other parts of our World,” said Tahvildary. “We have a diverse student population, many of whom will be away from family and friends during this festivity. We are hoping that such events can make them feel welcomed and comfortable on campus.”

A 3,000-year tradition, Nowruz is celebrated in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Albania and parts of Mesopotamia. The United Nations recognizes March 21 as the International Day of Nowruz. 

The Henry Madden Library and ASI sponsors the exhibition.

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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