Happy New Year!

Happy 2014!

May this year be filled with happiness, good health, and prosperity for you all.

Although it’s not strictly related, a Mughal festival that was similar to the celebration of the New Year was Nauroz (literally, ‘new day’). This was a spring festival, celebrated in what we would know as mid-March. It spread over a period of six days, culminating in the main celebration, of Nauroz itself.

A Mughal miniature, a study of irises.

A Mughal miniature, a study of irises.

Originally a Persian festival, Nauroz had become popular in other parts of the Middle East, including Syria and Egypt. In India, the Mughal emperors celebrated the festival: in Akbar’s time, for example, an important part of the festivities was the weighing of the emperor against gold, coral, and seven types of grain – which, presumably were later distributed to the poor.

Aurangzeb abolished the Nauroz celebrations, but it was revived again by the later Mughals, who extended it over nine days, with much showering of gifts (including rubies and pearls, scattered over those present in court), tributes presented to the emperor, dancing and music, parades of elephants and horses, feasts, and – as in Akbar’s time – the weighing of the Baadshah against wealth which was then given away.

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