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Thursday, 27 March 2014 07:03

Nowrouz Gift, the Message of Affection and Friendship

On the occasion of Nowrouz it is a custom in Iran to exchange gifts with family members and friends. It is a tradition that promotes love, affection, kindness and friendship in society. It is a wonderful way of strengthening personal and social relations. This habit is not peculiar to Iran and is common amongst almost all world cultures. In Iran, however, because of the lengthy festivities of Nowrouz that are spread over several days, with public holidays, the custom of exchanging gifts has become one of commendable social norms.

 

Nowrouz has certain characteristics tics in Iran which distinguish it from other occasions. It is customary to receive Eidi from elders and to give Eidi to youngsters. This is part of the cultural traditions of Iran since ancient times. A visit to the ruins of Takht-e Jamshid or Persepolis – as the Greek occupier of ancient Iran called it – shows rock-cut reliefs, where people of different nationalities are lined up with gifts of their lands for the king. In 416 BC Darius II minted a special gold coin bearing the image of a soldier shooting an arrow from his bow. The elapse of time has affected the way of giving eidi (presents on eid). In the agricultural, rural and tribal communities, in the not so distant past, giving agricultural and local gifts was common. With the passing of centuries, Nowrouz gifts or presents have changed, and these days Iranian families, usually at the end of the month of Esfand, in proportion to their economic capability, procure affordable gifts for each other to be given on the start of the new calendar year, on the exact time of the Spring Equinox or completion of the annual orbit of Planet Earth around the Sun, which in Iran is called Saal-Tahvil. Another common custom of Nowrouz is that families put currency notes in between the pages of the Glorious Qur’an and pray to God to bless the gifts they intend to give to the relatives when they visit them for receiving eidi. Therefore in the final days of the outgoing year, banks in Iran provide customers with new currency notes.

Iranians consider Nowrouz a good opportunity for giving presents to their friends and relatives. Giving of eidi, especially by the family elders, is one of the Nowrouz traditions. These gifts are exchanged during the visits of family members or friends and in Nowrouz it is a common custom that the younger generation visits their elders and receives eidi from them. It is also believed that receiving eidi from the elders, families and relatives is a sort of blessing. Thus, in Iranian culture, the material value of eidi is not so important, what is important is a spiritual aspect.

Receiving eidi from the elders is indeed a thrill for children and is something memorable for them and these traditions deepen love and affections between the elders and the youngsters. In view of the emphasis of Islamic narrations and traditions, the importance of this tradition is more tangible. In Islamic narrations, doing good to children has been taken into consideration. For instance, a narration from Imam Reza (AS) the 8th Infallible Successor to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) says: be kind to your children and give them gifts since they think that you provide their sustenance.

Giving eidi to brides is also one of the Nowrouz traditions. It is a tradition that the groom's family sends gifts or eidis like gold, cloth or new dress along with flowers and sweets. The other relatives too, when the bride come to their house, they usually give her presents. Reciprocally the bride's family prepares a present for their son-in-law to give him as eidi. Eidi-giving is not restricted to relatives and friends but it is given to caretaker, sweeper, mailer and low-income people as indication of appreciating their work.

Psychologists believe that presents enjoy a specific significance and instill a feeling of enthusiasm for their receivers. This arouses in them the feeling that those being kind to them have indeed spent time and money to provide them gift, as a token of their love and affection for them. Gifts of any any kind, whether a painting or a tableau or for that matter any other handicraft, have a lasting impression on the receiver of the gift. The tradition of eidi or gift-giving has some other useful impacts. Giving present removes malice from hearts and strengthens love and affection. It has been quoted by Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) that giving presents to each other removes malice. Gifts gladden the hearts of the receivers and are indicative of the spirit of benevolence of the givers. In this age of satellite, Iranians use the new communications technology, like mobile phones and SMA to felicitate each other on the occasion of eids, and whenever necessary. A glance at Islamic narrations shows that there is a close relationship between giving gifts and promotion of friendship. This tradition creates friendship and it is a way for strengthening and continuing friendly relations. Imam Ali (AS) says: whoever does not strengthen his past goodness with a new goodness, his past goodness will be undermined.

Thus, it is clear that exchange of gifts create the sense of trust in ourselves and others in a way that we feel we are respected and honoured.

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