Yesterday, the first day of spring or the vernal equinox, was also the first day of the Persian New Year. Iranians are celebrating year 5774.
The Persian people and the Persian civilization were there before Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. The Persians also were there before the Code of Hammurabi, the Babylonian law code, was written in 1772 BC.
Persia, the Persian Empire and Zoroaster gave humanity monotheism and issued the first declaration of human rights. Avesta was there before the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation. Monotheism was exhorted in Gata and the Book of Gushtasb by Zarathustra before Moses wrote about Yahweh.
The Zoroastrian code of conduct – “good thought, Good word, and Good deed” – was there long before the Ten Commandments.
Cyrus the Great of Persia liberated the Jews 500 years BC. There are dozens of references made to him and to the Persian Empire in the Bible.
The world’s first charter of human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder, housed in the British Museum, has started its exhibition tour in the United States at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington.
The Persian New Year, vernal equinox, when the day and night are equal and exactly 12 hours long representing nature’s exquisite justice, was celebrated 5,774 years ago, in the month of Edar Awal, which followed Shevat, as the Persian new year or Norooz.
Therefore, on Wednesday we celebrated Norooz, the first day of the Persian calendar 5774. We are Persians, inheritors of such dazzling history and civilization. With humility and gratitude, we share this joyous occasion with all humanity.
Assad Meymandi is adjunct professor of psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill.