What is Nowruz 2023 and how is the Persian New Year celebrated?

The day marks the start of a new year for many people around the world, including communities in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran and Kazakhstan

People gather around colourful eggs in Tehran's Azadi Square on Monday as they celebrate Nowruz. AFP
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Happy Nowruz, or Nowruz Piroz Be: Tuesday will mark the beginning of a new year for many communities around the world, particularly those that run along the historical Silk Road. It is estimated that about 300 million people observe the holiday.

A celebration of renewal and of the coming spring, Nowruz is said to date back to at least the sixth century BC. It is one of the holiest days in the ancient Zoroastrian calendar.

It is marked in parts of Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, India, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The word Nowruz is a combination of the Farsi words "now", meaning "new", and "ruz", meaning "day".

When is Nowruz?

Nowruz is usually marked on March 21, but the date does occasionally change because it falls on the day of the spring equinox. This year celebrations will begin on Tuesday.

The early origins of the day are said to date back to a mythical king, Jamshid, who saved mankind from an eternal winter.

The celebration was added to the Unesco list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009. In 2010, the UN declared March 21 as International Nowruz Day.

"For more than 300 million people around the world, it is a time for family and friends to come together, reflect on the past and look forward to a brighter future," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his message this year.

"Nowruz is also a celebration of humanity’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. And a chance for all of us to be guided by its values of peace, dialogue and solidarity."

How is it celebrated?

Iraqi Kurdish people carry fire torches up a mountain, as they celebrate Nowruz Day, a festival marking the first day of spring and the new year, in the town of Akra near Duhok, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

While there are many unique traditions connected to the celebration around the world, almost all communities will mark the day with a feast, and by spending time with family and friends.

Many people will also give their homes a spring clean, buy auspicious items such as fish and flowers, and decorate their doors and windows with florals. Symbolic items will also be placed on a table in the home, including water, candles and traditional food and fruit.

In more regional celebrations, people in Kyrgyzstan display traditional horsemanship to mark the arrival of the new year.

President Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, posted Nowruz wishes on social media on Tuesday.

"To all those celebrating Nowruz, both in the UAE and around the world, I extend my best wishes to you and your families and hope that the year ahead brings you continued peace and prosperity," President Sheikh Mohamed posted on Twitter in Arabic.

Sheikh Mohammed also added in Arabic: "Congratulations today to all the people celebrating Nowruz ... We wish them a happy year ... and a spring filled with peace and goodness ... and the coming days in which they will enjoy stability and prosperity."

Is it a religious festival?

The holiday is a secular one for many of the communities that celebrate it, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians and people of the Baha'i faith.