Hajji Firuz (Khawja Piruz) or Baba Nowroz (Father or Grandfather of the New Year), popularly (Persian: حاجی فیروز) in the language of literature and satire Haji or Hajji (Persian: حاجی) is the traditional herald of Nowruz, the Persian-Iranian New Year. He oversees celebrations for the new year perhaps as a remnant of the ancient Zoroastrian fire-keeper. His face is covered in soot and he is clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat. While ushering in Nowruz, Hajji Firuz plays a tambourine and sings "Hāji Firuz-e, sal-i-ye ruz-e" (It is Hāji Firuz time, It happens one day in a year). People of all ages gather around him and his troupe of musicians and listen to them play the drum, saz or kamancheh, and dance through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and the news of the coming New Year.
Hāji Firuz is believed to be based in a tradition called "Mir-Norowzi". Mir-Norowz was a comical figure chosen to rule the municipality for the last five days of the year (Panjeh). The temporary five-day king (Hakem Panj Ruzeh) would often parade the city with a group of singers and dancers for the Norowz Celebrations.
Importance of Haji Firuz
The sound of his songs and the sight of his dance is considered analogous to hearing Christmas music in predominantly Christian regions, telling all that Nowruz is in the air. The dark skin make-up is seen as symbolic and without racial implication.
Some believe that the appearance of Hāji Firuz is related to creating a happy atmosphere in the families. The New Year's Day must begin with joy, happiness and laughter so that during the rest of the year the families will continue to be happy. If the families are not happy, the faravahars who are guests of the families will leave the households which may result in the loss of abundance and blessings from the household. It is for this reason that during these days there are people with funny makeup and joyful songs who will bring laughter and joy to families and with their comical jests and songs bring laughter to houses, streets and market places.
Fire holds an important role in Zoroastrianism. It appears that Haji Firuz represents the red-dressed fire keepers of the Zoroastrians, who at the last Tuesday of the year, was sent by the white-dressed moghsor priests to spread the news about the arrival of the Nowruz. The fire-keeper's second duty was to call on the people to burn their old items in the fire, and to renew their life and regain health by obtaining the solved energy of the fire. The dark colour of the fire-keeper's face is allegedly caused by the heat of the holy fire.
Mehrdad Bahar opined that the figure of the Haji Firuz is derived from ceremonies and legends connected to the epic of prince Siavash, which are in turn derived from those associated with the Mesopotamian deities of agriculture and flocks, Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi). Later, he claimed that Haji Firuz’s blackened face symbolizes his returning from the world of the dead, his red clothing is the sign of Siavash’s red blood and the coming to life of the sacrificed deity, while his joviality is the jubilation of rebirth, typical of those who bring rejuvenation and blessing along with themselves. He speculates that the name Siyāwaxš might mean "black man" or "dark-faced man" and suggests that the black part of the name may be a reference either to the blackening of the faces of the participants in the afore-mentioned Mesopotamian ceremonies, or to the black masks that they wore for the festivities.
Hāji Firuz is also called Khawja Piruz; Khawja means "master" and Piruz/Firuz means "victory". Hāji in here is a form of address and is unrelated to the Islamic (Haajhi) hajj, much like using 'sir' to address a person in English without the person being a knight. Bad analogy. 'Haji (Persian: هاجى) is written with the second last letter of the Persian/Arabic alphabet, namely [هـ] (he(-ye do-češm)). The word is - with numerous inflections and the word formation of the Arabic and Persian languages - derived from Hija or Haja (Persian: هجاء) and means "satire" or "persiflage". Hija is in turn derived from Hajw (Persian: هجو) and means "satire" or "parody". Baba Nowroz (Father or Grandfather of the New Year) appears often in Afghanistan but is now rare in Iran.
Hāji firouz-e /Sal-i ye ruz-e sal-i ye ruz-e....It’s Ḥāji Firuz/[He’s] only one day a year.
Hame midunan /Man-am midunam....Everyone knows /I know as well.
ʿEyd-e nowruz-e /Sāl-i ye ruz-e....It is Nowruz /It’s only one day a year.
The following song is usually sung with a traditional "funny accent" or a mimicking of a speech impediment:
Arbab-e khod-am salāmo ʿaleykom....Greetings my very own lord
Arbab-e khod-am sar-eto bala kon!....Raise your head my lord!
Arbab-e khod-am be man niga kon,....Look at me, my lord!
Arbab-e khod-am lotf-i be ma kon....Do me a favor, my lord!
Arbab-e khod-am boz-boz-e qandi....My very own lord, the billy goat,
Arbab-e khod-am chera nemikhandi?....Why don’t you smile, my lord?
Beshkan beshkaneh, beshkan! ... It's a snap, snap, snap
Man nemishkanam, beshkan! ... I won't snap, snap!
Inja beshkanam yar geleh dareh ... If I snap here, this one will complain
Unja beshkanam yar geleh dareh ... If I snap there, that one will complain
In siāhe bichare cheghadr hosele dareh ... This poor blackened face is very patient
Hāji Firouzeh, sali yeh ruzeh, sali yeh ruzeh... It’s Ḥāji Firuz, once a year, once a year.
- According to research by Dr. Mahmoud Roh-ol-Amini based on the writings of Allamah Mohammad Ghazvini on Mir-Norouzi in the early twentieth century.
- Omidsalar, Mahmoud. "ḤĀJI FIRUZ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
- John Richardsohn:Wilkens, Charles, ed. (1810). . London: F. & C. Rivingson, p. 626 and p. 628
- Blackface, a form of theatrical makeup used by performers to represent a black person, this has many historical context
- Santa Claus, a traditional character found in many Western cultures
- Zwarte Piet, a similar looking character from the Netherlands with a different meaning than Haji Firuz
- Richardson, John.Wilkens, Charles, ed. (1810). . London: F. & C. Rivingson. [OCLC: 5631372]
- Ghanoonparvar, Mohammad.R.: In a Persian Mirror: Images of the West and Westerners in Iranian Fiction, Uni Press Texas, U.S.A. 1993 ISBN 978-0-292-72761-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hajji Firuz.|
- Ḥāji Firuz article by Encyclopadia Iranica
- The Persian Nowruz By Iraj Bashiri
- Haji Firuz: The Traditional Herald of Norouz