The mystery of the sprouting shoots in the Regent’s Canal

Posted · Add Comment
Sabzeh floating on the Regent's Canal

Happy Nowruz!

Who has spotted a whole load of pots of green sprouting plants floating around in the canals of Little Venice? There’s already a few in the water today and they’re not even due yet, as these are part of the celebrations of the Persian New Year, Nowruz. This takes place on the 21st March and one of many customs is to grow Sabzeh – literally grass, but in practice a pot of wheat, barley or lentil sprouts, and use it as one seven elements in the traditional Nowruz table setting.

At the end of the 13th day, which by my calculation, is the 3rd April, the Sabzeh has done its job of collecting all the evil spirits in the house and is disposed of in running water, exorcising the demons from the home. As there’s a large Iranian community in the local area, this translates into “chuck it in the canal” where at least its not as offensive as the normal crop of litter in the water, unless that is that it has a ribbon tied around it. This apparently indicates that the Sabzeh has been cast into the water by a single girl who is hoping for good luck in finding a partner before the end of the year and will account for numerous boats having to stop to untangle ribbon from their propellors before it finally sinks into the mass of junk in the bottom of the canal.

So now you know what you’re looking at when you walk along the Regent’s Canal this weekend and see a flotilla of green sprouts! At least the ducks are already enjoying this healthy option – and watch out for all those demons escaping from the water!