With only half a month to the arrival of spring, a number of people, dubbed Nowruz Khans – singers performing traditional songs heralding the emergence of the new season and Nowruz – come to the villages of Mazandaran Province (in northern Iran) and announce the arrival of the new year, season and time for a thorough housecleaning.
People in Iran annually mark the arrival of spring by holding the Nowruz festival, where Nowruz Khans sing folklore and local songs and recite poems praising Shiite Imams.
According to a report by IFP, Nowruz is a traditional Iranian festival and holiday starting at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, marking the commencement of spring. It is considered as the start of the New Year among Iranians.
Nowruz Khani, or singing for Nowruz, is an age-old tradition practiced by natives of the northern Iranian provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran, in which within some 15 days to March 20 or 21 – the end of the year in Iran – and prior to the beginning of Nowruz celebrations, some people go to the door of their neighbours’ houses and sing songs for them.
Nowruz Khans deliver their performances in groups of up to three people. The leading member of the group, who is also a poet, can play melodies and tunes with his own voice. One of the other two group members, called Nowruz Khan’s friend, sings the songs along with the main singer. The third one, dubbed ‘Khorjin Dar’ (saddlebag holder), goes to the doorstep of the houses and, by singing folklore and local songs heralding the arrival of spring and flourishing of the plants, prays to God for their resident’s full health and prosperity in the new year.
The owners of the houses also give them money, candies, walnut, eggs, beans and raisin in return.
Nowruz Khans improvise their songs and poems. An experienced Nowruz Khan is the one who is more skilled at extemporizing. Sometimes, their performance features music and, sometimes, only singing. Most of the poems and songs are recited or sung either in Mazandarani dialect or Farsi.
Nowruz Khani is a pretext for preserving the ancient tradition of the ancestors, commemorate and respect life, create happiness and bring people joy. The tradition is aimed at promoting friendship among people and bringing them greater satisfaction prior to the arrival of the New Year.
The youths developing an interest in Nowruz Khani over the past few years and it being upheld and practiced in Iranian festivals, have been effective in keeping the tradition alive.