Commonality of Cultures-DR C M Seth IFS, Ex Addl PCCF J&K
I believe that there are many practices which are common to many cultures in world. There may be difference of language, place or practices. Earlier I had written about the origin of word Amen. This time I am writing about the practice of growing Sakh in many cultures, although different names are given as per their language, place and practice. 1. Navratri festival: Navratri is celebrated throughout India, coinciding with four seasons. Out of four two Navratri festivals are very common. These are A. Sharada Navratri and B. Vasant or Chaitra Navratri. Navratri in Sanskrit means nine nights depicting nine forms of Shakti. Sharada Navratri is observed during autumn in the month of Sept-Oct. Vasant Navratri is observed with the onset of spring in the month of March-April. It also marks the beginning of new year. Both Navratris are linked with the practice of agriculture either sowing or harvesting. There is a science behind this festival which teaches the practice of seed sowing and seed testing and also how to grow a good nursery or crop in agriculture fields. Since earlier man when from wilderness switched over to settled agriculturist he was dependent on agriculture, climate and seasons. Through his intelligence, repetitive hit and trial and perfection of his practices he brought scientific education in his home and combined with religious practices so that the knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. Same is true in other cultures also. 2. Navreh: Navreh festival is celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir for four days on a small hillock Hari Parbat located in the centre of Srinagar city. It is also called Jyyeshtha Ashtami. Also celebrated on first day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra. (March-April). On this day calendar of new year Panchang or Almanac is also worshiped. It is believed that this festival is being celebrated since 5000 years when Saptrishi visited the hillock of Hari Parbat. 3. Nowroz: Nowroz festival is celebrated by Iranians/ Persians in the month of March. Nowroz in Persian means new year. It is observed national holiday in Iran. Historians report that this festival was started by Zoroastrians about 3000 years ago and continues till today and followed by Shia faith of Iran. Since Persians ruled most of the world east of Greece upto Afghanistan, central Asia and Balkans its culture spread in all these countries. At present, Nowroz is celebrated in Iran, Iraq, India, Kurdistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Albania, Tajikistan,Uzbekistan and by Iranians settled in western countries. In Nowroz festival growing of wheat grass called as Saz which we call as sakh is a practice followed in all these countries. Nowroz is spelled differently in different countries as Novruz, Novraz, Nawruz, Navrez, Nauruz, Nawryz, Nooruz, Noruz, Nevrouz, Nawruz and Navroz. Even Turkish and Mongol when conquered Iran did not abolish the practice of Naoroz and was celebrated by officials and people. Alberuni and Omar Khayyam have written extensively on the practice of Naoroz. Omar Khayyam have dedicated one exclusive book Nauruznama on the practices of Naoroz in Iranian lands. All central Asian countries after liberation from Russia have again declared Naoroz as national holiday. In J&K state also naoroj is celebrated . In addition to Zoroastrians naoroz is celebrated by Shias, Sufis, Bekshasis, Ismailis, Alawits, Babis and Bahais. UNSECO has listed both Navratra and Naoroz as Intangible Cultural Heriage. 4. Commonality of Science behind these festivals. Behind these festivals and traditional practices there is one thing common and that is science. I salute earlier human beings and their wisdom how they captured the nature’s systems and blended them in their day to day practices and binding them with their religions and cultures in different countries located thousands of miles far away from each other. What is common in all these cultures is the knowledge of Astronomy. These earlier people knew the impact of climate, seasons, weather on agriculture. They had the knowledge of movement of sun and moon and its impact on mother Earth and its environment. Whether it is Naoruz or Navratra or Navreh, all coincide with spring season and start of new year in the month of March. What a similarity? Around March 18th to 21st depending on the latitude and longitude of the country at the time of Equinox, the sun is observed directly over the equator and North and South poles of earth lie along the solar terminators. Sunlight is evenly distributed between North and south hemisphere. Therefore the world is one, humanity is one and cultural practices are same. Only names are different, languages are different, pronunciations are different and places are different. Try to understand the world, its cultures, its religions, its faith and you will realize that there are no conflicts and differences.Everyone preached the same thing and practiced the same knowledge for betterment of humanity. Let us understand each other and live in peace. Violence will bring more violence and peace will bring more peace. Respect humanity. Respect Nature and respect God.
DR C M Seth IFS, Addl PCCF J&K