Recognition of Navroz by the United Nations and the US Congress

I. UNITED NATIONS RECOGNITION OF NOWRUZ

To celebrate the International Day of Nowruz, the Persian New Year and the first day of spring, the Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey , Turkmenistan and Macedonia hosted an official ceremony at the General Assembly Hall. The event also commemorated the one-year anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 64/253, which officially recognizes Nowruz as an international day of Spring celebrations.

To celebrate the International Day of Nowruz, the Persian New Year and the first day of spring, the Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey , Turkmenistan and Macedonia hosted an official ceremony at the General Assembly Hall on March 22, 2011. The event also commemorated the one-year anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 64/253 (see text below), which officially recognizes Nowruz as an international day of Spring celebrations. Photo: Afghanistan Mission to the United Nations.

Background

The word Nowruz (Novruz, Navruz, Nooruz, Nevruz, Nauryz), means new day; its spelling and pronunciation may vary by country.

Nowruz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on 21 March. It is celebrated as the beginning of the new year by more than 300 million people all around the world and has been celebrated for over 3000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions.

Nowruz plays a significant role in strengthening the ties among peoples based on mutual respect and the ideals of peace and good neighbourliness. Its traditions and rituals reflect the cultural and ancient customs of the civilizations of the East and West, which influenced those civilizations through the interchange of human values.

Celebrating Nowruz means the affirmation of life in harmony with nature, awareness of the inseparable link between constructive labour and natural cycles of renewal and a solicitous and respectful attitude towards natural sources of life.

“At a time of global change and uncertainty, including in many regions where Nowruz is celebrated, the message of peace that lies at the core of this observance is especially important. My thoughts are with those communities observing Nowruz under difficult circumstances. This holiday is a reminder that we share a common fate and must work for a better future for all. ” — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Under the agenda item of “culture of peace”, the member states of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan prepared and introduced a draft resolution (A/64/L.30) entitled “International Day of Nowruz” to the ongoing 64th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations for its consideration and adoption.

In the 71st plenary meeting on 23 February 2010 (see text below), The General Assembly welcomed the inclusion of Nowruz in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on 30 September 2009.

It also recognized 21 March as the International Day of Nowruz, and invited interested Member States, the United Nations, in particular its relevant specialized agencies, funds and programmes, and mainly the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and interested international and regional organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations, to participate in events organized by States where Nowruz is celebrated.

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly -  International Day of Nowruz

(71st plenary meeting, 23 February 2010)

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, in particular the achievement of international cooperation in the economic, social and cultural fields,

Recalling its resolution 56/6 of 9 November 2001 on the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations,

Recalling also the Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Cooperation, adopted on 4 November 1966 by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,

Affirming the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted on 2 November 2001 by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, including its appeal for greater solidarity on the basis of recognition of cultural diversity, of awareness of the unity of humankind and of the development of intercultural exchanges,

Taking into consideration the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted on 17 October 2003 by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and recognizing the importance of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage, inter alia, social practices, rituals and festive events, at both the national and international levels,

Considering the interdependence between the intangible cultural heritage and the tangible cultural and natural heritage,

Welcoming the inclusion of Nowruz in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on 30 September 2009,

Recalling the 2005 World Summit Outcome, adopted at the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 16 September 2005, which recognizes, inter alia, that all cultures and civilizations contribute to the enrichment of humankind,

Stressing the importance of raising public awareness through education, media and cultural activities in order to foster knowledge of national cultures, world cultural heritage and cultural diversity, which are essential for strengthening global peace and implementing international cooperation,

Reaffirming that civilizational achievements constitute the collective heritage of mankind, providing a source of inspiration and progress for humanity at large,

Emphasizing the need to achieve an objective understanding of all civilizations and to enhance constructive interaction and cooperative engagement among civilizations,

Noting that Nowruz, the day of vernal equinox, is celebrated as the beginning of the new year by more than 300 million people all around the world and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions,

Stressing the importance of processes of mutual cultural enrichment and the necessity of promoting civilizational exchanges, which facilitate the development of international cooperation,

Mindful of the ever-increasing significance and relevance of a culture of living in harmony with nature, which is inherent in all civilizations in today’s world,

Mindful also that Nowruz, as the embodiment of the unity of cultural heritage and centuries-long traditions, plays a significant role in strengthening the ties among peoples based on mutual respect and the ideals of peace and good-neighbourliness,

Bearing in mind that the foundations of the traditions and rituals of Nowruz reflect features of the cultural and ancient customs of the civilizations of East and West, which influenced those civilizations through the interchange of human values,

Noting the orientation of Nowruz towards the affirmation of life in harmony with nature, the awareness of the inseparable link between constructive labour and natural cycles of renewal and the solicitous and respectful attitude towards natural sources of life,

1. Recognizes 21 March as the International Day of Nowruz;

2. Welcomes the efforts of Member States where Nowruz is celebrated to preserve and develop the culture and traditions related to Nowruz;

3. Encourages Member States to make efforts to raise awareness about Nowruz and to organize annual events in commemoration of this festivity, as appropriate;

4. Calls upon Member States where Nowruz is celebrated to study the origins and traditions of this festivity with a view to disseminating knowledge about the Nowruz heritage among the international community;

5. Invites interested Member States, the United Nations, in particular its relevant specialized agencies, funds and programmes, mainly the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and interested international and regional organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations, to participate in events organized by States where Nowruz is celebrated.

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II. UNITED STATES CONGRESS RECOGNITION OF NOWRUZ

Introduction

A few weeks after the United Nations passed its resolution of Nowruz,  both the US House of Representatives and the Congress in a virtually identical resolution joined in celebrating Nowruz. The House measure (H. Res. 267) was introduced by Representative Michael Honda, a Democrat from California, and passed by a vote of 384–2. He had introduced the resolution in 2009, but it had not come up for a vote. The Senate resolution (S. Res. 463) was introduced by Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.

Text of the House of Represenatatives Resolution:

Whereas Nowruz marks the traditional Iranian New Year, which originated in ancient Persia, and dates back more than 3,000 years;

Whereas Nowruz, meaning a `New Day’, occurs on the vernal equinox and celebrates the arrival of spring;

Whereas Nowruz symbolizes a time of renewal and community, it harkens the departure from the trials and tribulations of the previous year and brings hope for the New Year;

Whereas Nowruz is celebrated by nearly 300,000,000 Iranians and other peoples all over the world, including in the United States, Iran, and other countries in Central Asia, South Asia, Caucasus, Crimea, and Balkan Regions;

Whereas Nowruz is celebrated by more than 1,000,000 Iranian-Americans of all backgrounds, including those with Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian, and non-religious backgrounds;

Whereas the people of Iran have a long history of celebrating Nowruz and are congratulated for their bringing in of the New Year;

Whereas Nowruz embodies the tradition that each individual’s thinking, speaking, and conduct should always be virtuous, and the ideal of compassion for our fellow human beings regardless of ethnicity or religion, and symbolizes a time of renewal and community;

Whereas the United States is a melting pot of ethnicities and religion and Nowruz contributes the richness of American culture and is consistent with our founding principles of peace and prosperity for all;

Whereas in 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great established one of the earliest charters on human rights, which abolished slavery and allowed for freedom of religion, and this marker in Iranian history has had significant impact on the respect for human rights that Iranian-Americans carry today;

Whereas Nowruz serves to remind the United States of the many noteworthy and lasting contributions of Iranian-Americans to the social and economic fabric of society in the United States;

Whereas Iranian-Americans continue to make contributions in all sectors of American public life, including as government, military, and law enforcement officials working to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to protect all people in the United States;

Whereas Iranian-Americans are vibrant, peaceful, and law-abiding citizens, many of whom are Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Zoroastrian faiths; and

Whereas the Iranian-American community continues to enrich the tapestry of the diversity in the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives —

(1) recognizes the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz;

(2) expresses its appreciation for the contributions of Iranian-Americans to society in the United States in observance of Nowruz; and

(3) wishes Iranian-Americans and the people of Iran and all those who observe this holiday a prosperous new year.

Date posted: March 18, 2013

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For more information, please visit:

1. United Nations Nowruz Document
2. US Congress Marks Nowruz

Also read 2013 Navroz Readings: (I) The Ginan “Navroz na Din Sohamna….” with Text and Explanation

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