SAT-7 is marking the 13-day Persian New Year festival Norouz with special programmes that celebrate the new life that is available in Christ.
Norouz – a compound word that means “new day” – begins on 20 March this year and marks the dawn of spring. SAT-7’s Farsi channel, SAT-7 PARS, will welcome in the Persian New Year with a live two-hour programme on Sunday (20 March), focusing on togetherness and featuring Iranian Christian music.
Nikoo Ordodary, SAT-7 PARS’ Programming Manager, said: “As Iranians celebrate the New Year and the new beginnings that come with spring, we will be relating this to the new life that is available in Christ, and sharing the hope that Jesus gives us for each new day.”
The Church in Iran has much to celebrate this Norouz despite ongoing restrictions and persecution. According to Operation World, Iran has the fastest-growing evangelical population in the world! Every day, two or three people from Iran tell SAT-7 that they have given their heart to Christ after watching a programme on our Farsi channel.
Read more about Iran’s fast-growing Church.
The Persian New Year officially starts at 4.30am GMT, which is 8am Iranian time. It will become the year 1395 in the Solar Hijri calendar, which started in AD622 of the Gregorian calendar when Muhammed fled from Mecca to Medina, an event that is considered the advent of Islam.
Norouz is not, however, an Islamic festival and actually has its roots in Zoroastrianism. Today it is celebrated by people of different religions and is a national holiday in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and a number of other countries.
It is a time when families come together to celebrate new beginnings and hopes for the future. They traditionally decorate a table or carpet with seven dishes (“haft sin”) each beginning with the Persian letter S, symbolising rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty.
A Norouz-themed schedule
The schedule of SAT-7’s Farsi channel will be themed around Norouz for the 13 days of the festival. On Monday (21 March), a special live show will explore the history of Norouz and the significance of the seven dishes, interspersed with live worship music about the how the resurrection of nature points to the resurrection of Christ.
On Tuesday (22 March), live youth programme Dandelion will consider the subject of time. Nikoo, who presents the show, said: “I will talk about how precious it is and how it is important for us to seize the day and renew ourselves and our lives in Christ and walk with him.”
A 13-episode sermon series called New Season will be broadcast daily throughout Norouz. The Rev. Jalil Sepehr will call viewers to put God at the centre of their lives as they begin the New Year. The channel will also display an appropriate Bible verse for each day of the festival.
As Iranians look to the year ahead this Norouz, many are feeling optimistic because of recent political developments in the country. The lifting of sanctions following the nuclear deal reached between Tehran, the US and other world powers in July 2015 has given hope of greater economic prosperity. Meanwhile, gains made by reformers and moderates in last month’s elections for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts offer hope of further progress in the notoriously hardline Islamic republic.