As Earth revolves around the Sun and spins on its axis, the seasons change. As it gets brighter and warmer, the days lengthen and animals and plants become active again, after months of lying dormant because of the cold. Birds return from their annual winter migration. Green shoots and flowers appear everywhere. Spring is in the air!
For Hindus, Basant or Vasant Panchami falls on the 15th of February and marks the end of winter. It is the start of the long festive season which kicks off with Holi in March. Yellow is the good fellow, symbolizing the golden Sun. The goddess of wisdom and purity, Saraswati, is worshiped with flowers and food offerings colored yellow by devotees wearing yellow clothes!
Navroze is the spring festival for those of Persian origin. It is also New Year in Iran, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is celebrated by Iranians and Parsis in India and by the Kurds. The word itself means ‘new day’ in Persian and the festival marks the beginning of the solar year in the Iranian calendar.
Before the New Year, on the last Tuesday evening of the ‘old’ year, people build a fire and jump over it. As they jump they whisper, ‘My yellow goes to you, your red comes to me.’ To them yellow the symbol of weakness and red the symbol of health.
The house is given a thorough ‘spring cleaning’. Wheat, barley, and lentils are soaked ten days in advance so that the sprouts are three to four inches in height by Navroze. The Parsis observe traditional rituals and partake in splendid feasts. It is in fact, a very elaborate thanksgiving for God’s bounty.