Nawroz, The New Year of Bactrian/Aryan Farmers

Since ancient times, the Bactrian (Inhibitants of Bactria) had been celebrating Nawroz as new year. Since last few decades it is being tried to declare this New year as Iranian year only (Iran was part of Aryana/Bactria). This new year is the years of farmers to plant food and ornamental flora. This region was also the cradle of domestication for many flora and animals species and Bactrian camel is the most prominent one. US President Obama sent greetings to Iranian people at the eve of new year of Nauroz which provoked the feelings of Pashtun/Afghan people as they angered why Nawroz is linked with Iranian only. We agree that Iran is the part of this history but not the sole part. I hereby copying the open letter of a Kabul university retired professor in this regard to bring things on ground. Nawroz

“Many Afghans are disappointed by President Obama’s Spee…ch while calling the celebration of Nowruz as Persian/ or Iranian New Year. Nowruz celebration, which falls on March 21st, is not solely “Iranian New Year”. Iranian writers have hijacked the history and traditions of a large region once called Ariana-Vija, according to Avesta and the Vedas. I believe that President Obama should not add to the conceited claims of Iranian Regime, which is based on the concept of “Aryanism”, initiated in Europe in the 1930. Perhaps it would be more appropriate and politically correct if the term Nowruz or New Year be used. The Spring Solar New Year was widely celebrated in Central Asia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, Turkey northern parts of Iran today and initially from Bactria to Indus Valley, the entire territory of Afghanistan and parts of Present-day Pakistan.

The celebration of the Nowruz actually started in archaic periods in Bactria or Balkh in the 2nd Millennium BCE or earlier by the farmers who lived on the banks of Oxus River, According to researches of Professor Habibi in ancient Vedic and Avestan texts, the early farmers were called Aran, which etymologically changed to Arian. Thus the term Ara or Aran was referred to a profession rather than a Superior Race. The celebration of the Farmers Day is still observed in Afghanistan during Nowruz, but not in Persia. The Elamet culture of Persian culture in the 2nd Millennium was connected to ancient Mesopotamia. According to Greek historians, Herodotus, Polybius and Strabo, this ancient civilization started on the foothills of Pamir Mountains and banks of Oxus River. Professor Luis Dupree and Alexander Marshack, American Archeologists also believed that the banks of Oxus River were one of the first places for farming wheat and barley. Italian archeologist in 1957 while conducting researches in northern Afghanistan, (Balkh, Takhar and Samangan) found very ancient irrigation system, which was initiated by the early farmers. Hence spring was an important season for the farmers and the first day of spring, March 21st was celebrated. Many different human races endured to make farming a source of living in ancient times. Nowruz was not exclusive to Persian Kings nobilities as widely propagated.

Hamid Naweed
Former Professor of Art History at Kabul University

1 thought on “Nawroz, The New Year of Bactrian/Aryan Farmers”

  1. Having just blogged a poem on Nawroz, I am so glad to have encountered your post. Thank you for sharing this letter. You’re right, many people other than Iranians also participate in these celebrations.

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