Before the actual Nowruz celebration, festivities, family gatherings and all the visits (did-o-bazdid-e Eid) begins, there's the extensive top to bottom, thorough and all-out spring cleaning (khaneh- tekani) that has to take place. This ritual is for everyone and every household, whether one lives in a simple room with minimal furnishings or in a palatial mansion filled with luxurious items! This once a year cleaning ritual is more than the typical routine of vacuuming, mopping and dusting that we normally do. In our home, like the homes of many Iranians, the process of Spring cleaning starts weeks before the Nowruz celebration, so by the time Nowruz arrives (sal-e tahvil), the house would be sparkling clean, organized and neat, the children dressed in their new spring clothes and the Haft-Seen table (table with items starting with the letter "S" each symbolically representing, health, happiness and prosperity), would be beautifully set.
Growing up in Iran, this was one of the best times of the year. My mother's ritual of spring cleaning would start with going through all the closets and chest drawers one by one. She would take everything out, get rid of the old and worn out clothing, put the winter clothes away and neatly return the "good" clothing. Then she would clean the rugs, draperies, shades, windows, refrigerator, stove, kitchen cabinets and appliances. Not to mention, the occasional fresh coat of paint for the living room and dining room and the re-upholstery of some of the chairs where we usually entertain and greet family and friends. These are a few rituals, among many others, that take place in preparation for the Persian New Year.
These processes are also a symbolic reminder to take in the spirit of Spring and clear our hearts and minds and let go of grudges and hard feelings that we might have accumulated and try to start the New Year with a new attitude and positive outlook on life. I personally find the Spring cleaning activities joyous and look forward to cleaning every nook and cranny in my house and to let go of anything that I have held on to over the years. It's time for me to carry on the tradition, as my mother kept it together after the loss of my father and my only sister. She welcomed the Nowruz celebrations with joy, and I too shall do the same without my mother's presence. Is there ever a time to overcome your loss? I take in the fresh new air of the coming New Year and am working on the challenging task of being in the moment with every breath. Enjoy your Spring Cleaning and have fun with it!
Peace and blessings!