Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day of Nowruz
21 March 2021
Nauryz, Navruz, Nawrouz, Nevruz, Nooruz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowruz – this celebration of the arrival of spring is as rich in names as it is in traditions. No matter what name you call it by, this shared festivity has brought communities together across countries and regions for more than 3,000 years.
Indeed, millions of people in Western, Central and South Asia, South East Europe and elsewhere celebrate this event annually. Meaning “new day”, Nowruz is a symbol of new beginnings, a message of rebirth. But it also brings people of different cultures together, so that they can appreciate their shared values and aspirations.
As such, Nowruz is a bridge between the past and the future. Transmitted from one generation to the next, it embodies a sense of continuity and strengthens feelings of belonging. Even after 3,000 years, Nowruz is a thriving example of living heritage, filled with chants, dances, public rituals, traditional games and wonderful meals. In this way, it reflects many of the values of UNESCO, such as the importance of building connections, promoting mutual respect, living harmoniously with nature, and promoting solidarity and peace in the minds of people. Given its contribution to cultural diversity and harmony, Nowruz was recognized by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2016.
In times of crisis, we need uplifting celebrations like these more than ever.
The spirit of Nowruz – of connecting, of solidarity, of community, of hope, and also of resilience is captured beautifully in the Persian poet Saadi’s famous Bani Adam: “All men and women are to each other the limbs of a single body, and when this life we share wounds one of us, all share the hurt as if it were our own.” In a world disrupted by an unprecedented global pandemic, Nowruz carries a message of renewal.
Let us all be inspired by Nowruz today – and its promise of harmony, solidarity and joy for tomorrow.