(Persia Digest) – The people of the historic city of Isfahan will welcome the approaching Iranian New Year on the spring equinox this year by holding a celebration from the Safavid era called “Zendeh Rud Festival” to appreciate the revival of the old river after water flows again into Zayandeh Rud River on March 17.

With the beginning of the 12th month of the Iranian calendar (Esfand) on 20th February, the people of Isfahan start the Nowruz tradition of “Khanehtekani” (House shaking = Spring cleaning) by cleaning their houses and repairing or changing broken furnishings as they believe they have to start spring by removing last year’s dirt and dust.

Shopping for clothes, foodstuffs, and furniture is another Nowruz tradition among the people of Isfahan to add more beauty and life to the New Year. They also help the needy and poor, believing this will add more blessings to their own lives in the New Year.

The people of Isfahan also visit the tombs of their departed relatives and pay tribute to the martyrs of the war on the last Thursday of the year and again on the first day of Nowruz or as it is called in Iran after Tahvil-e Saal which means after the year changes.

The Haft Sin spresad is another ancient custom of Iranians and Isfahanis. They set the Haft Sin spread and also add seven Quranic verses to it beginning with the letter “sin” (S) in Persian to keep them safe from bad omens in the New Year. All family members sit around the Haft Sin spread wearing their new clothes and wait for the moment of the arrival of the New Year (Tahvil-ee Saal) by reading the Quran or other prayers.

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Presenting a dowry and gifts which is called Khoncheh to would-be brides is another tradition in Isfahan just before the New Year.

On the first day of the Nowruz, people visit each other and exchange gifts called “eidi”. This can be gifts of money or other presents. Family visits continue until the end of the two-week long holidays. During the first three days, elder members of the family and relatives are visited who in return give eidi to the children. Eidi is traditionally money bills placed inside the holy Quran pages to become “motebarrek” (blessed).

In Isfahan, Nowruz guests are welcomed with different foods and sweets including puffed rice, gaz noughat, thin pulaki candy, rice cookies, chickpea sweets, cream cakes, nuts and pistachios, roasted wheat and hemp, and chocolate.

Another tradition in Isfahan includes the Sizdah-bedar picnic on the 13th and last day of Nowruz, making a wish and knotting ties in the grass, and throwing the “sabzeh” grown wheat for the Nowruz spread into the water. On the day of Sizdah-bedar, Isfahani families go to the banks of the Zayandeh Rud River and knot ties in the sabzeh before throwing it in the water wishing for the marriage of the young and materialization of their dreams. They spend the whole day outdoors together.

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