Breaking down the ancient traditions of Novruz, RU Roundtables

Editorial | Republic Underground 

March 28, 2021

Pictured above, Professor Seher Orucova, screencapture of the RU News Women’s Roundtable Novruz event. 

“The holiday has grown into one of the most significant Azerbaijani people Navruz, one of the most ancient holidays, favorite merry holidays, which has absorbed all the traditional values,” Professor Seher.

“Devoted to the history of women, the Women’s Month in the United State, we focus on topics and we meet with women academics and discuss various topics. Our topic today, we will focus on this holiday or Navruz, as it is also called. This holiday is celebrated in Azerbaijan, Iran, and among the Russian population, and in other regions. The origins of this holiday we will learn today, and also discuss its tradition and its historical roots,” said Irina Tsukerman. She then welcomed the special guest.


“Novruz one of the most ancient holidays of whose beloved merry holidays it has absorbed all the traditional values,” said Professor Orucova.

Tsukerman then summarized for the English-language audience that the Novruz holiday has its origins in sacred traditions of the spring equinox, called the New Day in Ancient Persia and the region, and is a unifying holiday for all Turkic people’s in the region. Novruz translates to “New Day” in English, and symbolizes a new day and a new working cycle. Likewise, the works of the Azerbaijani literary figures and cultural figures reference Nowruz as a central theme. The holiday was a strong theme in the works of Nizam Ganjavi.

“Many writers and poets addressed this topic, including Omar Khayyam, including how last time at my speech I also noted Nizami Ganjavi addressed this topic and it is no coincidence that in Nizami’s poem Yeskendir Nam the hero arrives the patroness of the bard, our guy is Navruz and values navruza concerns with unity, equality and sharing what is yours with the people around you,” the Professor explained.

“The values of Navruz are unity, equality, and to share your own with others,” said Professor Orucova.

Orucova then explained the social context of Novruz as a cultural cornerstone of Azerbaijan.
“Novruz rejoices at the arrival of spring equality because on this holiday both the poor and the rich participate equally and on equal terms, this, of course, is due to the fact that on this day all people celebrate this holiday together and thirdly, share their values ​​with others, that is, holidays wealthy people always give gifts to needy relatives and neighbors,” said Orucova.

“They send some gifts to old people, to lonely and sick people, and thus during the holiday harmony is observed at three levels. Firstly, at the level of the state and society, and secondly at the level of various strata of society and personality, thirdly, at the level of nature and society,” said Orucova.

Irina Tsukerman then summarized Orucova’s comments.
Orucova then explained the basic context of Novruz celebrations and the traditions of the festivities.

“The people of Azerbaijan begin to celebrate Navruz four Tuesdays before the spring equinox, that is, almost a month before, and every Tuesday is dedicated to the elements of nature. To the water, fire, the wind, and the Earth, according to ancient beliefs. First, the rivers are freed from the ice cover. Then, bonfires are burned to warm the earth. Finally, the Earth awakens from winter and on the first day of Navruz, it is customary to get up early where possible. People tend to go to the river, and splash each other with water, and so on,”said Orucova.

Tsukerman then summarized this segment for the English-speaking audience, explaining that groups were not allowed to dam up the river on this day when traditionally gatherings splash in the water as one of the symbols of the natural elements.

Orucova explained the holiday from the child’s perspective.

“That is, this is the first Tuesday which, as I said for her, how many Tuesdays before the New Year, the childhood holiday begins with This is, of course, a symbol of a feeling of freshness There they treat each other with what sweets and so on,” said Orucova.

She also explained some of the traditional beliefs about failing to keep the traditions
“On this day, you cannot close the river, why is there even such a belief that there is a man who blocked the river, then God will surely punish him and task 140 mushrooms,” said Orucova.

Tsukerman then explained the belief of the punishment if one dams water at that time, fire represents “everything on the way to renewal” and wind represents “cleansing” and Earth is connected to the “reawakening” of the ground.

In later discussions, we will further explore the traditions of Novruz as well as the ethnographic politicization of ancient traditions in regions that were formerly occupied by the Soviet Union/Imperialist Russia.