Happy New Year to communities in Iran, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Nowruz (spelled differently in different places, since it's a transliteration from Farsi) is the traditional Persian spring festival, beginning with the vernal equinox, which marks the start of the northern hemisphere’s spring. This year, that happens as the sun crosses the equator at 7:44 a.m. edt on 20 March.
RFERL says “The word Norouz derives from the Persian "Nov-Ruz" and literally means New Day.” It also notes that by government fiat, Kazakhstan “will celebrate the Central Asian new year, Norouz, for three days instead of one as before.”
In Iran, historical Persia, “Noruz has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian religion.” “Noruz itself is by definition the very first calendar day of the year." East of Persia, “The people of India use around 30 calendars. As a result, they have almost as many New Year’s Days” – but many fall around the time of Nouruz.
According to Suite101, “For many, New Year’s Day falls on the first day of the lunar month of Chaitra. In the National Indian Calendar, Chaitra begins on 22 March (21 March in a leap year), but in the many more popular religious calendars the first day varies."
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