The Beech family Haft Sin…
“Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Rúz as a festival unto those who have observed the fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee. Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee…”
The Beech family Haft Sin…
Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Rúz as a festival unto those who have observed the fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee. Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.
Since Thou hast adorned them, O my Lord, with the ornament of the fast prescribed by Thee, do Thou adorn them also with the ornament of Thine acceptance, through Thy grace and bountiful favor. For the doings of men are all dependent upon Thy good pleasure, and are conditioned by Thy behest. Shouldst Thou regard him who hath broken the fast as one who hath observed it, such a man would be reckoned among them who from eternity had been keeping the fast. And shouldst Thou decree that he who hath observed the fast hath broken it, that person would be numbered with such as have caused the Robe of Thy Revelation to be stained with dust, and been far removed from the crystal waters of this living Fountain.
Thou art He through Whom the ensign “Praiseworthy art Thou in Thy works” hath been lifted up, and the standard “Obeyed art Thou in Thy behest” hath been unfurled. Make known this Thy station, O my God, unto Thy servants, that they may be made aware that the excellence of all things is dependent upon Thy bidding and Thy word, and the virtue of every act is conditioned by Thy leave and the good pleasure of Thy will, and may recognize that the reins of men’s doings are within the grasp of Thine acceptance and Thy commandment. Make this known unto them, that nothing whatsoever may shut them out from Thy Beauty, in these days whereon the Christ exclaimeth: “All dominion is Thine, O Thou the Begetter of the Spirit (Jesus)”; and Thy Friend (Muḥammad) crieth out: “Glory be to Thee, O Thou the Best-Beloved, for that Thou hast uncovered Thy Beauty, and written down for Thy chosen ones what will cause them to attain unto the seat of the revelation of Thy Most Great Name, through which all the peoples have lamented except such as have detached themselves from all else except Thee, and set themselves towards Him Who is the Revealer of Thyself and the Manifestation of Thine attributes.”
He Who is Thy Branch and all Thy company, O my Lord, have broken this day their fast, after having observed it within the precincts of Thy court, and in their eagerness to please Thee. Do Thou ordain for Him, and for them, and for all such as have entered Thy presence in those days all the good Thou didst destine in Thy Book. Supply them, then, with that which will profit them, in both this life and in the life beyond.
Thou, in truth, art the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
The ‘Haft Sîn’ (Persian for the ‘Seven ‘S’s) is a traditional decoration displayed at Naw-Rúz. We usually make one in the Beech household at this time of year which is sacred for Baha’is in addition to being the Iranian New Year. Customarily the Haft Sîn display consists of seven symbolic items which start with the letter S or ‘Sîn’ in the Persian Alphabet. In practice there are a variety of different items used but the ones we tend to use are
- ‘Serkeh’ vinegar – symbolising longevity and fortitude
- ‘Sonbol’ a potted hyacinth (traditional spring flower)
- ‘Sekkeh’ coins prosperity
- ‘Sabzeh’ lentil shoots growing in a dish – a symbol of spring and rebirth
- ‘Senjed’ the dried fruit of the Oleaster or ‘Trebizond Date’ tree – a symbol of fertility and love
- ‘Sîr’ garlic – wellbeing
- ‘Sîb’ an apple – symbolising health and beauty
Of all Bahá’í holy days Naw-Rúz on the 21st of March is the one I love the most. The historical roots of Naw-Rúz (or ‘New Day’ in Persian) are in the ancient Iranian New Year festival, which apart from being celebrated in Iran itself is also marked within the broader sphere of Persian cultural influence. This includes parts of the Middle East, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Western China and the Caucasus. As well as being sacred to Baha’is Naw-Rúz is also a holy day for Alawites, Alevis, Ismaili Muslims and Zoroastrians. I also note with interest that the Vernal Equinox is also marked by Pagans- for example as the ‘High Feast of Ostara’ sacred to the Norse Pantheon. Occurring as it does on the Vernal Equinox I associate the festival of Naw-Rúz with both spiritual and physical renewal. Indeed `Abdu’l-Bahá describes the revelation of God as the ‘Sun of Reality’ bringing life to a spiritually dead world.
Furthermore, just as the solar cycle has its four seasons, the cycle of the Sun of Reality has its distinct and successive periods. Each brings its vernal season or springtime. When the Sun of Reality returns to quicken the world of mankind a divine bounty descends from the heaven of generosity. The realm of thoughts and ideals is set in motion and blessed with new life. Minds are developed, hopes brighten, aspirations become spiritual, the virtues of the human world appear with freshened power of growth and the image and likeness of God become visible in man. It is the springtime of the inner world. After the spring, summer comes with its fullness and fruitage spiritual; autumn follows with its withering winds which chill the soul; the Sun seems to be going away until at last the mantle of winter overspreads and only faint traces of the effulgence of that divine Sun remain. Just as the surface of the material world becomes dark and dreary, the soil dormant, the trees naked and bare and no beauty or freshness remain to cheer the darkness and desolation, so the winter of the spiritual cycle witnesses the death and disappearance of divine growth and extinction of the light and love of God. But again the cycle begins and a new springtime appears. In it the former springtime has returned, the world is resuscitated, illumined and attains spirituality; religion is renewed and reorganized, hearts are turned to God, the summons of God is heard and life is again bestowed upon man. For a long time the religious world had been weakened and materialism had advanced; the spiritual forces of life were waning, moralities were becoming degraded, composure and peace had vanished from souls and satanic qualities were dominating hearts; strife and hatred overshadowed humanity, bloodshed and violence prevailed. God was neglected; the Sun of Reality seemed to have gone completely; deprivation of the bounties of heaven was a fact; and so the season of winter fell upon mankind. But in the generosity of God a new springtime dawned, the lights of God shone forth, the effulgent Sun of Reality returned and became manifest, the realm of thoughts and kingdom of hearts became exhilarated, a new spirit of life breathed into the body of the world and continuous advancement became apparent.
‘Sabzi Polou’ is Persian rice with herbs that is commonly accompanied by fish. We like Sabzi Polou at any time of the year- not just at our Baha’i celebration of Naw-Rúz when it is a Beech family tradition. The following recipe should serve 4-5 people.
Chopped fresh fenugreek, coriander, dill, chives and parsley- sufficient to fill small cup when chopped
2 cups basmati rice
Vegetable Oil, Salt to taste
1. Rinse rice in pan, carefully pouring out the ‘cloudy’ water (this will avoid the rice going sticky)
2. Add 4 cups of fresh water, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the rice in the pan
3. Boil for around 15 minutes, until rice is par-boiled
4. Drain rice in a colander.
5. Cover the bottom of the pan with a few teaspoons of cooking oil
6. Put the par-boiled rice back into the pan, if possible heap it in the middle (Don’t know why-it seems to cook better…).
7. Add chopped herbs- ‘folding in’ gently to avoid ‘mushing’ rice
8. Wrap the pan lid with a muslin-type cloth and cover
9. Cook on a low heat for a further 30 minutes or so
Ideally it should become crunchy at the bottom, forming what the Iranians call ‘tahdiq’. You should be able to turn over the pan onto a tray so that the rice ‘pops out’ in an aesthetically-pleasing round pan shape. Serve with fish.