Written by Nick Walker
This Sunday, March 24, the Iranian American Community Group will be celebrating its 6th annual Persian New Year festival. The celebration will take place at Irvine’s Bill Barber Park from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Persian New Year, or “Nowruz,” translated from Persian to literally mean New Day, takes place at the end of winter and the beginning of spring, centering around the Spring Equinox. It is an ancient tradition, having been observed in Persian culture for approximately 5,500 years (older than the great pyramids of Egypt), celebrating the rebirth of the Earth after the cold of winter and welcoming the warmth of spring.
The event is celebrated with deeply rooted, age-old traditions, such as the preparation of special foods, providing gifts to younger ones and putting together a special spread of seven items, all of which have names that start with the letter “S” and represent a kind of blessing. It is a holiday of love, hope, harmony and peace, and is an opportunity for communities to come together and wish these blessings upon their families and their neighbors. While the event may have originally had roots in the Zoroastrian faith, it is now a purely secular celebration of life and rebirth, a day recognized by people of many faiths and ethnicities around the world.
Last year’s Persian New Year festival at Bill Barber Park welcomed almost 5,000 people, including many elected officials. It is one of the larger Nowruz celebrations in the country. The event is free to the public and all-inclusive to anyone who wants to join the festivities, with live music and dance performances, a DJ, Persian tea and cookies, children’s activities and cultural displays. Authentic Persian food will also be available for purchase. It is being put on by the Iranian American Community Group, an organization that consists of 13 individual Iranian American institutions.
One of the organizers of the event, and prominent Iranian figure, Dr. K.E. Mehrfar puts this celebration into words best: “Perhaps the most profound and most important of this ancient and somehow sacred tradition is its message. The message of Nowruz, which is deeply rooted in its origin, is for all mankind regardless of any specific human traits. With rejuvenation of mother nature and rebirth of planet earth our cradle of life and civilization, Nowruz this year and for years, decades and centuries to come reminds us of love, peace, joy, happiness, prosperity and selfless dedication to help others. After all, we as humans belong to one family of Humanity.”
The Persian New Year festival begins this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Bill Barber Memorial Park, near the Irvine Civic Center.