Festivals Current Affairs - 2019

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17 August: Parsi New Year Navroz celebrated

Parsi New Year, also known as Navroz or Jamshedi Navroz, is celebrated every year on August 17 to mark the beginning of the new Iranian calendar. In Persian, Nav means new and Roz means day and together translating to ‘new day’. It is celebrated for health, wealth, prosperity and productivity. The central feature of this festive day is visiting Fire Temple and offering prayers to deities Khorshed and Meher, who are considered the presiding deities of sun and moon respectively.

Background

Jamshedi Navroz got its name from legendary King of Persia – Jamshed, who is said to have introduced solar calculation in Parsi Calendar. In Iran and other parts, Zoroastrians celebrate Persian New Year using Fasli/Bastnai calendar according to which this day falls on moment of Vernal Equinox and marks beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, mostly falls on March 21st every year. However, Parsis in India follow Shahenshahi calendar (which does not account for leap years) and hence Persian New Year in India is celebrated mostly on August 17th, approximately 150-200 days after its original day of vernal equinox (Spring Equinox). Celebrations of Jamshedi Navroz or Parsi New Year are similar to Nowruz spring festival where people celebrate commencement of New Year amidst exchange of gifts, donations, new clothes, house cleaning and lots of fun and frolic.

Zoroastrians

Parsis (are also known as Zoroastrians) as they follow Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest known monotheistic religions founded by Prophet Zarathustra or Zoroaster (Greek) in Pre-Islam era of ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago in 650 BC. After the invasion of Islamic armies in 7th Century, Zoroastrians fled Persia and mainly dwelled in India.

India is home to the largest group of Parsis from around the world where the community has been a significant part of the economic and industrial growth of the country and lives in harmony with various other religions like Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and many more.

United Nations Postal System issues special postal stamps to mark Diwali celebration

United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) has issued special stamps with Diyas lamps (special event sheet) to commemorate India Hindu festival of Diwali. These stamps are available at UN headquarters post office in New York, US and also online.

Key Facts

The special event sheet (stamps) issued by UNPA are in denomination of US $1.15. It contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and symbolic lamps known as diyas. The background of sheet features United Nations Headquarters building illuminated with message of “Happy Diwali” to celebrate the spirit of the festival.

The description accompanying information about stamps mentioned that Diwali, also known as Deepawali is joyous and popular festival of lights, which is celebrated in India and by followers of many faiths across the world. It also said that during celebration clay lamps known as diyas are lit to signify the victory of good over evil. The festival also symbolises start of new year for many communities.

Note: United States Postal Service (USPS) in October 2016 had launched commemorative stamp in honour of festival of Diwali. It was issued after seven-years-long efforts and advocacy by Indian-American community and several Congressional resolutions by influential American lawmakers such as Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA)

It is postal agency of United Nations. It issues postage stamps and postal stationery, denominated in United States dollars for United Nations offices in New York, in Swiss francs for offices in Geneva and in euros  for the offices in Vienna. Postage rates charged are identical to those of the host nation.