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Millions of people celebrate the start of the Persian New Year

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Millions of people around the world have celebrated the start of the Persian New Year.

The Nowruz festival falls annually on March 20 or 21, when day and night are of equal length. According to the Iranian and Afghan calendar, the year 1403 now begins.

Nowruz is celebrated in Central, West and South Asia, for example in Iran, Afghanistan and the Kurdish regions, but also by millions of people around the world.

In Iran, this year’s festival is being overshadowed by a severe economic crisis. In Afghanistan, there have been no public festivals since the Taliban took power again in August 2021. Although the Islamists tolerate private celebrations, they regard Norus as an infidel custom.

Iran’s head of state Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed the country’s economic problems in his New Year’s speech.

Iran’s economy is under pressure in the face of tough international sanctions that have been imposed in recent decades, primarily due to the controversial nuclear programme and human rights violations.

As part of the millennia-old festival, people traditionally decorate a table with seven meaningful items, all of which begin with the letter “S” in the Iranian language Farsi.

The “Haft Sin” table contains coins, apples, garlic and grass. Gifts are also exchanged and literary classics are read aloud.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands as people greet him ahead of his annual speech to mark Persian New Year (Nowruz). -/Iranian Supreme Leader's Office/dpa

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands as people greet him ahead of his annual speech to mark Persian New Year (Nowruz). -/Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office/dpa

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