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Lilies growing in a dark lagoon
There is a world out there that has not experienced the magic of Norooz


March 19, 2007 

As vernal equinox draws near, once again I let hope enter my heart, fill me with its warmth, and prepare to welcome Norooz and all its dazzling colors. Just for this brief instant, I wish to forget the malice around the world, the injustice, and the sorrow. Through the optimism of this time-old moment, I shall draw enough new energy to face what may come.

I set the haft seen, water my purple hyacinths, and once again fully expect the universe to take a good turn and make everyone happy. I place the sour orange in a bowl of water and, forgetting the disappointment of decades, believe the old promise that it will twirl at the exact moment of the New Day’s arrival. Will the gold fish flip inside his glass bowl to signify life’s turn for the better? Perhaps this time the sweet taste of Norooz will last longer and maybe its magic is going to linger for some time.

I rehearse the prayer my father taught me when I was a little girl. He used to put a coin and some noghl in my hand and, closing my fist with his long fingers, he would whisper, “If you hold on to that during the moment of tahveel, you will be granted wealth and sweetness throughout the year.”  Then he made me repeat after him the words of a special prayer. “Oh, you transformer of hearts and emotions, you master of day and the night, you provider of health and better times. Turn our lives into the possible best!”

The Arabic verse meant nothing to the child in me and my chance to rehearse them with him was lost forever at the age of ten. But each and every year, Norooz transforms me back to the little girl whose hopes were the melting sugar in her fist and her dreams remained trapped in a round clay bank.

The best of Norooz clothes now fail to flatter this old body, but I plan on wearing something new anyway. The house is clean, the baklava is made, and I know that beyond those shut windows, spring is waiting, ready to burst in and fill my home with fragrance. Once again, I will put a coin and a noghl in my children’s hands and regardless of the diminished power of prayers, I shall silently rehearse the words my father taught me.

Still, there is a world out there that has not experienced the magic of Norooz, a world focused on bad news, a world that sleeps through most of the day just to complain about the length of dark nights. Can’t they see how, regardless of man’s calendars and faiths, nature has forever marked this time to be the new beginning? This is when the stars change, allowing a whole new year with its own set of events to arrive. I pity anyone who remains oblivious to such optimism. No matter how short lived, such conviction is precisely what this world needs, the hope that just because things are bad, it doesn’t mean they will stay that way.

Like water lilies growing in a dark lagoon, here is a bright moment amid our dreadful times and I for one plan to grasp its joy. Following so many hours, days, and months of bad news, here come a moment worth keeping, a memory in the making, something for the next generation to cherish. Today and just for this minute, I shall focus on good omens, unexpected magic, even miracles. Indeed it is Norooz. My Norooz! Comment

Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani gave up dentistry to be a full-time writer. She lives in San Diego, California. Her latest book is "Sharik-e Gham" (see excerpt). Visit her site

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Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani


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