Several Iranian families are now busy preparing their homes for Noruz, the Iranian New Year celebration, in advance.
In Persian, the annual spring cleaning is called khaneh-tekani, which literally means "shaking the house”.
It is a spring clean which sees otherwise drab exteriors of houses given life by the colors and intricate patterns of carpets being suspended for a good airing from roofs, windows and balconies throughout the land.
The Persian New Year of Noruz falls on the first day of spring, between March 19 and March 22.
During the khaneh-tekani, all members of the home help and cooperate in thoroughly cleaning every nook and cranny of the home.
They also fill their homes with fresh flowers, usually hyacinth and narcissus, and burn incense made from the esfand plant.
Families meticulously wash rugs, windows, curtains and repair furniture. They throw out or donate old household goods and purchase new clothing to greet the coming spring.
Debris from the past is removed from within the home and detritus from the outside. Carpets and curtains are washed, silverware polished, and windows cleaned.
After the cleaning, Iranians buy fragrant plants such as hyacinths and tube roses to freshen the air.
Some Iranians burn and use wild rue, esfand, after the spring cleaning. They believe that the aromatic fumes help ward off evil spirits while welcoming the spirits of the departed.
Khaneh-tekani: A symbol of cycle of nature
After spring cleaning, the home is ready for a fresh start to the New Year. The home is also ready to receive guests during the customary Noruz visitations.
The ill fortune and evil spirits of the old year are washed away along with the dust and grime in preparation for the New Year.
In short, this is the time of year when the slate is wiped clean, with a fresh start to the year symbolizing the natural cycle so important in sustaining life.
The homes are prepared for the year in which, all are willing to live with more energy and motivation to continue.
Symbolically, khaneh-tekani signals to the spirits of the ancestors that their kin are ready and willing to entertain them.
This is also extended to personal attire, and it is customary to buy at least one set of new clothes.
On the New Year’s Day, families dress in their new clothes and start the twelve-day celebrations by visiting the elders of their family, then the rest of their family and finally their friends.
On the thirteenth day families leave their homes and picnic outdoors, as part of the Sizdah Be-dar ceremony.