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Searching for Suri
A more comprehensive explanation of the meaning of "Suri" in the Persian language


Kaveh T., Bethesda, Maryland
May 3, 2006

I found the comments, and also disagreements on the meaning of Suri in the Persian language interesting, and thought that this might shed some light on this topic. Since I realize that this discussion initially arose, apparently, by Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's remarks about the meaning of the name for their newly born daughter Suri, I have written this for them as well.

On the meaning of suri in the Persian language, in a sense, both Manouchehr Saadat Noury's comments in "Suri, the Persian rose ", and also Hooshang Amirahmadi's comment in the New York Daily News are correct. For neither fully explained the meanings for this word in the Persian language.

For the purpose of, as the saying goes, getting to the point and not making this explanation lengthy and boring, I shall refrain from explaining the possible historic roots and ancient affiliations to this word (as specifically related to its meaning for celebration, and also to the color red).

Meaning no. 1, Gol-e Suri
The name for a certain kind of flower (Gol-e Mohammadi, Gol-e Roz), this flower is available and known to be, predominantly, red in color, though since past times it seems that it came in other colors also. Here are some examples (other than what was shown by Professor Saadat Noury, in his article):

a) From the great poet Farroki Sistani:

Baaghbaan bar gerefteh del be maah, dee be gol
Por konad har baamdaadee, az gol-e sooree, kenaar

b) From the great poet Mohammad Taghee Bahar:

Andaleebaan, gol-e sooree be chaman kard, vorood
Bahr-e shaadbaash-e ghodoomash, ham-e faryaad, koneed

Meaning no. 2: Suri, and also sur
A celebration, a festivity, for a certain purpose and occasion (equal to other Persian words bazm, jashn, mehmaanee). This meaning is more popularly understood and used by Iranians and Persian-speaking people nowadays (also in its related grammatical form sur). Here are some examples:

a) We see it in Chahar-shanbeh-suri, referring to the name of a certain celebration and festivity, it is celebrated on a certain date, and only once a year (literally translated: the celebration of Wednesday, pronounced chaahaar shan-be sooree, which is one of the ancient Iranian celebrations and still celebrated by most Iranians at present in Iran and also by parts of the populations and people of neighboring newer countries bordering Iran, and also by some Iranians and/or people of Iranian origin, living in and around different parts of the world).

b) From the great poet Ferdosi:

Yek-ee soor farmood, ke andar jahaan
Kasee peesh az aan khod nakard, az mehaan

c) From the great poet Farrokhi Yazdi:

Gar be kaam-e to falak dor zanad, ghar-reh masho
Ke jahaan az pay-e har soor, azaa-ee daarad

Meaning no.3: suri
The color red (less used and applied nowadays). Here are some examples:

a) From the great poet Kasai Marvi and/or Marvazi:

Nargess bar posht-e rood , Barbod-ee zad sorood
Vaz may-e sooree, dorood, sooy-e banafhshe reseed

b) From the great poet Farroki Sistani:

Az baagh, baad booy-e gol aavard, baamdaad
Vaz gol, maraa mol-e sooree, payaam daad

(mol-e sooree: red wine. Mol though rarely used in the past and present, refers to wine, may, and sharaab)

Meaning no. 4, sur
The fortifying and protective wall built around the perimeter of cities (primarily), and/or forts, in older times, equal to deevaar-e shahr, baaroo, deevaar-e ghal-e. This meaning and application was used very rarely, as most people are not familiar with it (both in past, and also in present times). One example is found in a poem by Hafiz, and another in a poem by Molana/Molavi (aka Rumi), while they both have also used the more prevalent meanings for suri and sur (as described above), in their poems also.

Meaning no. 5, sur (noun)
I will refrain from presenting it due to its insignificance (a very limited application and in a sense, inconsequential).

Katie and Tom, I wrote this, primarily for you, so some light would be shed on the true meaning of Suri in the Persian language.

1. Please note that the couplets which I have quoted above are not single-couplet (one-line) poems, they have been quoted and taken out of multi-couplet poems and pieces.
2. The commas are merely used as a sign of pause in the quoted poems (in my transliterations above), I have used this style of Latin Transliteration of Persian into English for many years.
3. Many Iranian linguistic, historic, and literary references have been used for this research and compilation.

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