27 March 2024

The Persian New Year was celebrated on March 21 at the Department of Computer and Information Science (IDA). The festive event in Ljusgården occurs annually and is organised by PhD students from Iran.

Decorated eggs
The decorated eggs are a symbol for fertility. Marie Beckman

Persian New Year, also known as Eid Nowruz, is a celebration that welcomes spring and invites people to come together and celebrate the arrival of the new year. It can be traced back 3 000 years to ancient Persia, before Islam. At IDA, Nowruz has been celebrated for more than a decade, except for the pandemic years.

Mina Niknafs, PhD student at the Division of Software and Systems, organised this year's event that was attended by more than 40 guests.

Who is invited?

"This year's party was attended by doctoral students, supervisors, administrative staff, and the head of IDA", says Mina Niknafs.

What does the celebration of Nowruz at IDA mean to you?

Mina Niknafs in front of the table with food
Mina Niknafs, PhD student Marie Beckman

"Nowruz is a time to gather with family and friends, engage in rituals and traditions passed down through generations, and reflect on the past year while looking forward to new beginnings. For many Iranians at IDA who are far from their families, it's heartening to celebrate this special time amidst friends within the international community of IDA. It's also an excellent opportunity to celebrate our traditions and spread joy and happiness among our international friends."

Mariam Kamkar gesturing to the table decorated with flowers and symbols for Nowruz
Mariam Kamkar, professor emerita Marie Beckman

Mariam Kamkar, professor emerita and former head of IDA, started the celebration by giving a short talk about Nowruz festivities and explaining the items present on the party table. At Nowruz, a table is set with seven items, each starting with the Persian letter "sin" and symbolising a hope for the new year. Over time different additions to the table have been made.

Mina, what food is your favourite at Nowruz?

"Among the items on the Haft Sin (or 7-Sin) table, my favourite item is Samanu which symbolizes affluence, fertility, and the sweetness of life. Samanu is a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat. Interestingly, its taste resembles "Memma", a traditional Finnish dessert found in many Swedish supermarkets. In addition, Nowruz is celebrated with a variety of traditional dishes such as “Sabzi Polo ba Mahi”, “Reshteh Polo” and “Kuku Sabzi”. My favourite dish, and the most common one, is “Sabzi Polo ba Mahi”, which is herbed rice (sabzi polo) served with fish (mahi)."


rose buds and sugar in glass containers
Dried rose buds and sugar for the tea.Marie Beckman

Finally, what is it like to be a PhD student at IDA? 

"Being a PhD student at IDA can be a rewarding experience on multiple fronts. From an academic and research perspective, IDA offers access to resources and faculty members who are experts in their fields.

The sense of camaraderie among students, faculty, and staff creates a welcoming community where individuals can thrive both academically and personally.

Moreover, the friendly and supportive atmosphere at IDA contributes significantly to the overall experience. The sense of camaraderie among students, faculty, and staff creates a welcoming community where individuals can thrive both academically and personally. This supportive environment encourages collaboration, knowledge sharing, and personal growth. Based on my positive experience with IDA, I wholeheartedly recommend it to others considering pursuing a PhD", says Mina Niknafs.



More about the Haft Sin (Sevens S's) table

Each of the items symbolises a hope for the new year.

  • Sabzeh (wheat, lentil, barley sprouts): rebirth and the renewal of nature.
  • Samanu (a sweet pudding): affluence and fertility.
  • Senjed (dried fruit of the oleaster tree): love and romance.
  • Seer (garlic): medicine and good health.
  • Seeb (apple): beauty and health.
  • Serkeh (vinegar): age and patience.
  • Somaq (sumac berries): the color of sunrise and the victory of light over darkness.
    Food table with symbols for Nouruz like rice, coins, eggs, wheat
    The party table with food and symbolic items.Marie Beckman

Short facts about Nowruz

Unesco heritage

Nowruz was officially recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009 by Unesco. It falls on 20th or 21st of March, depending on the year.

Spring Equinox

The Iranian New Year begins at midnight nearest to the instant of the northern equinox, as determined by astronomic calculations for the meridian 52.5 degrees east.

Thirteen days

Nowruz, meaning "new day", is a 13-day celebration starting with a fire festival and ending with a day when families and friends go out on a full-day picnic in the heart of nature.

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