Nowruz Songs

Nowruz Songs

by Peyman Nasehpour

Nowruz. The "Nowruz نوروز" is a Persian term standing for "Persian New Year". It is also the traditional festival of spring (in Persian "bahar بهار") which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. The main purpose of this note is to introduce the Nowruz songs.

A lexical discussion of the term "Nowruz". The term "Nowruz نوروز" is a combination of two Persian words "now نو" and "ruz روز", meaning "new" and "day", respectively. The term "Nowruz" has been used by Persian poets extensively. For example, Ferdowsi says:

دلم بر همه کام پیروز کرد     که بر من شب تیره نوروز کرد

One of the most famous Persian poems including the term Nowruz is the following recited by Khayyam:

بر چهره‌ی گل نسیم نوروز خوش است     در صحن چمن روی دل‌افروز خوش است

از دی که گذشت هر چه گویی خوش نیست     خوش باش و ز دی مگو که امروز خوش است

Different nations celebrate Nowruz. The Nowruz marks the first day of spring (the astronomical Northward equinox) and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. The Nowruz is celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds for thousands of years. It is a holiday that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths. It originated in Persia in one of the capitals of the Achaemenid empire in Persis in Iran and is also celebrated by the cultural regions that came under Iranian influence or had migrations by Persians including Azerbaijan, the North Caucasus, Kurdish inhabited regions of Eastern Turkey and Northern Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and other scattered populations in Central Asia.

Nowruz songs

By a Nowruz song, it is meant any kind of song which is performed for the celebration of Nowruz and/or spring (bahar). The Persian term "nowruzkhani نوروزخوانی" is an expression meaning any kind of festive occasion in which Nowruz songs are performed.

In pre-Islamic times, during the Nowruz festivals, special melodies were performed in front of Persian Kings. In Islamic times, one of the main modes of Persian music was the Nowruz mode and the Nowruz mode had different branches called "Nowruz-e-Ajam نوروز عجم", "Nowruz-e-Arab نوروز عرب", "Nowruz-e-Bayati نوروز بیاتی", "Nowruz-e-Khara نوروز خارا", and "Nowruz-e-Saba نوروز صبا". In the radif repertoire of Persian classical music, three Nowruz songs (pieces) have survived:

"Nowruz-e-Arab", "Nowruz-e-Khara", and "Nowruz-e-Saba".

In Persian folk music, there are many Nowruz songs and 25 of them have been documented by Mohammad Reza Darvishi. 

Bahar songs

One of the eight modes in the time of Bahram V (widely known as Bahram Gour) was called "bahar بهار". As Setayeshgar reports, after Islam, the bahar mode was also popular in Persia. Let me finally add that, in Indian classical music, there is a raga called "bahar" which is very similar to the raga Malhar.


[D] Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Nowruzkhani: 25 Ceremonial Songs of Spring and Nowruz, Arvin Publishers, Tehran, 1997.

[S]: Mehdi Setayeshgar, Vazhe-Name-ye-Musighi-ye-Iran Zamin, Tehran, Vol. I (1995) & Vol. II (1996).

Keywords. nowruz, noruz, norouz, navroz, navroz, Persian, Iranian, new year.

Nowruz-e-Saba by Ostad Nasrollah Nasehpour

Nowruz Song by Ali Akbar Mehdipour Dehkordi