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Nov Ruz (usually 21 March)

To introduce the Zoroastrian faith and its key festival of Nov Ruz (New Year).

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To introduce the Zoroastrian faith and its key festival of Nov Ruz (New Year).

Preparation and materials

  • Nov Ruz is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox (when day and night are the same length), which usually occurs on 21 March.

  • You will need:
    –  a broom, duster or other cleaning implements
    –  a plate of any attractive looking food
    –  a ‘holy book’, such as the Bible
    –  a mirror
    –  a wrapped present
    –  something growing, such as sprouting mustard seeds or a vibrant looking plant
    –  an incense stick or any other pleasant aroma
    –  a goldfish in a bowl or image of one
    –  one or more candles (and something to light them with)
    All of these items could be prepared by your class in advance.
    An alternative would be to represent them by large drawn images which the children display at the appropriate point.
  • Conceal the items in advance ready to produce them one by one.
  • Pronunciation notes
    Zoroastrianism – Zoro-astri-an-ism
    Zarathushtra – Zara-thush-tra
    Nov Ruz – spelling and pronunciation vary from country to country so simple phonetic pronunciation is fine!

Assembly

  1. Enter the space as if busy. Produce your broom or duster and start cleaning up, explaining that you’d like to stop and talk but really you must get on and get the place clean and ready for the festival.

    Dust one or two children (or teachers!), if appropriate and, if time allows, you could enlist some to help you.
  2. Produce your plate of food and explain that of course you and your friends and family will be sharing a meal together.

    Ask if anyone has any idea what the festival is. Value all suggestions. If, by any remote chance, someone does hit on the right answer, respond with, ‘We’ll see.’
  3. Continue to produce the items one by one, each time asking what the festival could be.
  4. When you have produced everything, explain that the festival is called Nov Ruz or sometimes Now Ruz or No Ruz, Navruz, Nooruz, Nevruz, Nauryz!

    It’s from a very old religion called Zoroastrianism founded by the prophet Zarathushtra in the area of the world that we now call Iran. He was one of the very first people to teach that there is one God.

    Zoroastrianism is a thoughtful faith. Its followers are supposed to live a life made up of good thoughts, good words and good deeds. It is estimated that it is followed by about 250,000 people worldwide.
  5. Explain that Nov Ruz is the Zoroastrian New Year celebration. Ask what the children think is the meaning or purpose of each of the things that you’ve shown, which are all used in Zoroastrian homes as part of the festival.

    Cleaning – getting the house ready and making it ‘special’
    Food – a celebration meal, enjoying each other’s company and sharing together
    Presents – to show love for family and friends
    Holy book – symbolizing (to help us think about) guidance on how to live a good life
    Mirror – to think about the past and look to the future
    Something growing – representing new life
    Incense – to encourage meditation (thinking about what’s important in life)
    Goldfish – representing life and activity
    Candles – light, energy and the sharing of warmth
  6. On the last Wednesday before the festival, Zoroastrians build bonfires (a bit like Christmas Eve, when we get ready for Christmas Day). Fire is seen as a symbol of the light of wisdom, health, goodness and purification. People jump over the fire in celebration.
  7. Explain that for two weeks Zoroastrians visit friends and neighbours. If they have upset anyone in the past year they try to put it right during this time by being friendly and helpful.

Time for reflection

There’s a lot we can learn from Zoroastrianism, a thoughtful faith that encourages good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

Think a good thought now, something that you can be happy about and thankful for.

Determine that you will say some good words today – what will they be, and who will you say them to?

What good deed will you do today, something to help other people?

If this assembly is taking place on 21 March, conclude by saying that we’re going to wish each other a Happy Nov Ruz or Happy Zoroastrian New Year.

The words are Nov-Ruz Mubarak. Ready? One, two, three, Nov-Ruz Mubarak!

Song/music

‘I will bring to you the best gift’ (Come and Praise, 59)

Publication date: March 2013   (Vol.15 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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