Kashmir belongs more to Central Asia than to South Asia, owing to its glorious ties with the region in terms of geography, culture, traditions, religion and much more. However the bitter fact is that the rich Central Asian or to be precise Persian influence in Kashmir is on decline. It is where the significance of Nauroz, an annual celebration across Central Asia, has increased manifold in Kashmir.

Nouruz is the festival of spring celebrated across Central Asia. Nouroz starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. Exact moment of vernal eqinox in Srinagar, commonly known as 'Tahvil', this year (20th March 2016) is at 9.59 A.M.  In Kashmir however, the festival has sadly attained sectarian connotation and this has decreased its significance for the general public.

Below we reproduce excerpts from an article written by renowned Iranian scholar, Dr Ali Shariati, underlining the significance of this great festival. -Editor

Nauroz is celebrated every year, and talked about each year again. Much has been said about it, and you have heard a lot in this regard. So is there no point in talking about it once again?

Of course there is! Do we not renew Nauroz each year. So let us also hear about it repeatedly as well. It is boring and even nonsense to repeat a scientific or a literary text. Wisdom rejects repetition, but sensations welcome it. Nature too, likes repetition, and the societies need it.

Nature is basically made up of repetition. A society is strengthened through repetition, sensations gain their life from it and Nauroz is a beautiful, repetitious story in which the nature, sensations and the society are all engaged, yet it never gets old or boring.

Nauroz, which has for long centuries been the master and most gracious of all the national ceremonies around the world, maintains its young, strong, lively existence, because it is not an imposed, an artificial or a political ceremony.

It is the ceremony of the universe, the happiness day of earth and the birthday of the sun and the skies. The glorious day when every natural phenomenon evolves, blooms and resolutes filled with the sweet anxiety of many "startings".

The national ceremonies of the other cultures often encourage men and women to leave their workshops, farms, deserts, alleys and streets, gardens and pastures, and then gather up in rooms under the ceilings, behind closed doors.

They gather in such surroundings as bars, dancings, cellars, saloons and houses.. in places that are heated with gas, lit with light bulbs, filled with smoke, made pretty with artificial colors, decorated with paper or plastic flowers and ornaments, scented with perfumes or burning herbs... Nauroz, on the contrary, grabs the people's hands kindly and pulls them joyfully along with it out of their small surroundings in rooms, behind closed doors, under ceilings, from among tall buildings and cement pavements in and around towns into the glorious vast pastures, green areas and the broad, kind embrace of nature, where everyone feels free and jubilant.

The kind spring sun warms them and brightens their day, the glory of witnessing renewing of creation and themselves excites them, the wind and the spring rain beautifully designs new scenes which are already background with bloomed buds of various colors and scented with:

"Smell of rain,smell of spearmint,smell of soil.And smell of boughs that are wet of gentle spring rain and shining clean"...

Nauroz is a great chance for recollection of lots of great memories. Memories of relationship between man and nature, which is renewed each year. This forgetful child of nature who has got himself so much engaged in artificial affairs and pre-scheduled engagements, that he/she has even totally forgotten his own lovely mother.

He/She Is Now Called Back To The Kind Embrace Of His Loving Mother With The Magical Spell Of Nauroz. There, They Will Together Joyfully Celebrate This Happy Reunion.

The careless child will find out about his/her own origin in the kind embrace of his/her mother, and the mother's face will bloom in finding back her lost child, shed tears of happiness for this happy occasion, cry joyfully in spring thunders, get young and pretty another time, and briefly speaking, like the Prophet Yaqub(AS), who regained his lost sight after smelling the scent of Yusuf's (AS) shirt, will be bestowed a sharp sight to see her dear child once again.

The More Complex Or Heavier Our Artificial, Technical Civilization Will Become, The More Urgent The Need To Reunion With And Return To The Nature's Embrace.

Thus, unlike traditions, that get old and incompetent, and sometimes even useless as time goes by, Nauroz gets younger, prettier and stronger with the passage of time, and that is because Nauroz is a third way for reconciling between the two sides of the long cultural aware that has been going on since the era of Lao-Tso and Confucius until the recent days of Roseau and Walter.

Nauroz is not merely a good chance for relaxing and being happy, but a bare need of the society and the vitally needed spiritual food for a nation.

What else is capable of brightening up cold hearts, in a dark world, based upon ever-ongoing changes, revolutions, separation and loss, disintegration and dissolving, where the only thing that is stable and never subject to change is ever-renewing itself and instability?

What else can make a nation invulnerable in the cruel path of the carriage of time, which destroys anything in its path, breaks and crashes any pillar and demolishes any base?

No nation is formed within a night, one generation's era, or even two. A nation can be described as the continuous string of many generations that time, this pitiless, thoughtless sword of nature, separates their physical connections along the course of their history.

Unfortunately, we cannot have a two-way correspondence with our ancestors those who have formed the soil of our nation.

The horrendous, deep valley of history is dug. The long, hollow centuries have formed a great impassable gap between us and them. It is only our traditions that speaking away from the sharp eyes of the cruel time executioner, can kindly take our hands and convey us spiritually to the other side of this terrifying valley, thus reconciling between us and our glorious past, our ancestors.

It is in the holy face of these traditions that we can feel their presence by our side today, and Nauroz celebrations are among the steadiest, most gracious of these traditions.

It has never been an excuse to be "careless, cheap and forgetful", but a pretext to announce the lively determination of our nation to be and to continue to be and maintain strong ties with a glorious past, which the time factor and the invaders of different races have always tried in vain, to wipe off the scene of existence.

Nauroz has always been so dear. To Zoroastrian clergies, to sagacious old men in ancient history, to Muslims and to Persian speaking people all over the world.

Everyone has considered Nauroz a beloved one, and talked about it sympathetically…

Even the philosophers and scientists who have considered Nauroz "The first day of creation, when God, in ancient Persians mythology created the universe…".

What a beautiful story it is. Even prettier than reality itself! Doesn't every human being honestly feel that the first day of spring is the first day of creation repeated again?

If God Set A Beginning For Life On Earth, That Day Must Have Doubtlessly Been The Nauroz Day. Surely, Spring Has Always Been The First Season Of The Year. God Must Not Have Ever Made Summer, Winter Or Fall The First Season Of The Year, Nay!

The fist grass on earth must have surely started sprouting on the first day of spring, the rivers must have started running then, and the buds blooming which means Nauroz must have always been on the first day of spring, simultaneous with the renewing of creation.

"Soul" must have surely been created in this season. Love's first bow must have stricken a heart on its first day, and the sun risen for the first time on the very same day, marking the start of the clock of the universe.

Islam, Which Wiped Off All The Discrimination And Colors Of Racism And Tribalism, And Changed The Form Of Many Traditions, On The Contrary Polished The Beautiful Facade Of Nauroz. It Approved Of This Glorious Tradition, Let Its Sapling Continue To Grow And Get Stronger...

The two great events of appointing Ali (AS) as the Prophet's spiritual inheritor (Shah-e-Vilayat) and choosing him as the Calif of the Muslims and Emir of all the believers (Amirul Mu'menin) have both been on Nauroz day and surely what a great coincidence!

This glorious celebration, which had begun its life with the ancient soul and love of a nation, was now doubly fortified with the holy spirit of a great religion, Islam, as well….

The main prophesy of Nauroz yet, is to polish the stains of sadness and hopelessness off the betrayed hearts.., and blow the soul of jubilance in the corpse of this land and its people.

And yet that is not all. Nauroz is responsible for strengthening the ties between the present generation and all our wise ancestors in the past on the one hand, and strengthen the ties of these all with mother nature on the other hand…

And we, in these happy moments, light the.. fire of Nauroz once again, and deep in our conscience, tread the black death-stricken deserts of hollow centuries, and get ready to celebrate Nauroz along with all the men and women……

Thus, we proudly proclaim our lively existence as a happy wise nation, standing tall amid the heavy winds of horrendous incidents which are capable of uprooting any strong tree, but not our nation's.

We announce that we are alive and we will continue our proud existence on this land till the end of the time, even in this dark century when our enemies, and particularly the usurper West, are fiercely determined to make us foreign with our own culture, so that we will be their obedient slaves, with no personality of our own to rely on.

So let us renew our alliance with all our ancestors and with all the different races of our nation, as well as with our mythology in this historical intersection of time, beliefs and traditions.

Let us borrow the precious inheritance of love from them and promise to be faithful inheritors of it. Let us promise as a nation, never to die….