The third annual Persian-Iranian Parade,
held along the fifteen blocks of Madison Avenue in
An educational pamphlet, distributed along
the parade route, describing the historical aspects of Norooz celebration, the
Persian New Year, a brief history of
In contrast to previous parades, the higher number of actively engaged second and third generation Iranian-Americans in the parade was noticeable. Sarah, a ten year old dressed as an angel on a float, when asked what she felt, responded, "It is one the happiest days of my life, as I look at waves of people who look and act like me!"
A woman in her sixties, accompanied by a
large family entourage of nearly twenty people along the sidewalk, whispered, "I
confess, I was skeptical about this parade lasting beyond its first year, since
I had heard of brewing conflicts among its founders. But I am thrilled and proud
of them to note that they rose to the occasion and put their personal disputes
aside for the sake of the community." An attractive, intelligent young woman in
her mid-twenties, while passing, could not help hearing the above statement and
added in English-Persian mix, "Our community, especially its leadership in the
What was most impressive and praised by everyone was the smooth and flawless flow of the parades in their entirety, as the organizers and participants were now the veterans of offering a parade of the highest professional caliber.
Another parade coordinator, Afshin Tajian, a vibrant young man, was most thrilled to note that the tradition of this parade attracts all Iranian-Americans from all walks of life, regardless of their religious or ethnic orientations and brings them together, to celebrate their common Norooz, as well as their common history and culture.
Specifically, the Persian Parade has had two themes this year:
It displayed the historical role the Iranians (Persians) have played in the advancement of human civilization from as far back as 5,000 years ago, and also showcased the more contemporary face of Iran and the multifaceted contributions of Iranian Americans in particular, to the betterment of life in the US and the world. "I truly enjoyed the parade as it taught me to have a more positive perception of the "
It is envisaged that the NY Persian-Iranian parade will be emulated by many other Iranian communities worldwide. There was a general consensus asking for a street fair (music, dance, food, vendors) following the parade. Iraj Javid, one of the Parade Organizers acknowledged the needs for, and merit behind such street fair, but said, "We have asked, and will ask again for the extension of permit for such add-on event, but such decision, reviewed on an annual basis, is solely within the NYPD's discretion."
There were, nonetheless, half a dozen cultural, concert, film and food activities held in buildings in proximity to the Parade route in the afternoon. The parade organizers, already in gear to plan for next year, envisage a much large and more colorful parade for next with even a much bigger crowd. "The parade belongs to ALL Iranians worldwide, and as such is not an exclusive club belonging to one individual," Jamshid Irani, a NYC based attorney observed. For more information, membership and participation, you may visit the Website www.persianparade.org and email email@example.com.
Davood N. Rahni ©. Pictures by Ali Afshar and Behzad Ahandoost.
on Norooz and
By Davood N. Rahni
The Norooz Festival is immortalized in the Decree of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, granting national, cultural and religious freedoms to the peoples of Babylon and beyond in 542 B.C.E.:
"When I entered
Norooz, the new day or the
New Year in Persian is the cyclical celebration of the Spring Equinox. Instituted by the
Zoroastrians, it is the most cherished and celebrated of all Iranian
festivals; it has been observed by all peoples of the broad Iranian plateau for
millennia. Commemorating the periodic rebirth and rejuvenation of nature, Norooz has been observed, in one
form or another, since 3,000 BCE by all the major cultures of ancient
Mesopotamia, and southwest and south central
Norooz is still celebrated annually in a wide arc of territory
extending from the
The roots of Norooz can be traced to Zoroastrianism, which is believed to be the world's first monotheistic religion. Zoroastrianism considers Nowooz as the last day of the seven day creation epoch; thus the ritual of the Haft Sin, or the seven life-related, mostly plant based, symbolic heralds, all beginning with the letter "S" in the Persian language. During the Norooz holidays, families and friends visit each other, pay their respect to the elderly, reach out and reconcile with adversaries, visit the resting places of the deceased, and make donations to the impoverished and the sick. They give and receive presents during the thirteen day period that ends on April 1st (April fool's day) when everyone spends the whole day in the country dancing, singing and playing. The commemoration of Norooz recalls the seventh day of creation, when homage is paid to the Creator or Mother Nature, with rest, play and party activities.
Norooz celebrates the
Lord of Wisdom and the holy "halo" fire in anticipation of the Spring Equinox. The oldest
archaeological record for Norooz celebrations comes from the
recordings of over 2500 years ago. An inscription on
Historically speaking, back in 1821 a young Englishman, following his passion for unearthing the lost world of the ancient east, came upon a peculiar monument in the heart of the Iranian plateau. He wrote in his diary:
The very venerable appearance of this historical ruin instantly awed me. I found I had no right conception of it. I sat for near an hour on the steps contemplating it until the moon rose on it, and I began to think that this, in reality, must be the tomb of the best, the most illustrious, and the most interesting of Oriental sovereigns.
The resting place of Cyrus the
Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire in 550 BC had been identified. This
was followed by the identification of ancient Passargädae, the capital of the
Empire, in the nearby plain. The few sources on Cyrus portrayed him not just as
an empire builder, but a man possessing rare qualities, deeply rooted in his
ancestral sportsmanship of horseback riding, with an appreciation of earth's
bounties, the cultural diversity of humanity and the celestial objects in the
sky. In the Bible (Old Testament) for instance, the Book of Ezra tells of
Cyrus's liberating the scattered Jews of Babylon, restoring their temple which
had been destroyed by Assyrian king Nabopolassar. Cyrus invited the scattered
Jews back to
Iranian (from the Satem branch of
the Indo-European), Medean and Persian tribes had settled in the Iranian plateau
as late as the eleventh century BCE.
This plateau has always been regarded as a crossroad between East and
West for cultural, scientific, and technological discourse. The name
Cyrus's ultimate dream of unifying
nations from south Asia to Asia Minor and
In recent times, although there have
been sporadic numbers of Iranians who have immigrated to Europe and North
America starting in the 19th century, a mass exodus has occurred since the 70's
due to political changes in Iran. There are an estimated three million
Iranians living abroad today. According to the US census and other
independent think tanks, the Americans of Iranian ancestry are among the most
educated and the most affluent communities in the US, and have substantially
contributed to the US economy in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and thus
immeasurably to the US quality of life. For instance, one can hardly find an
American university or college, medical, business or civil sector, and artistic
area where Iranian- Americans are not well represented. The
Iranian-American Community of one million strong is found in every corner of the
Davood N. Rahni ©. Pictures by Ali Afshar and Behzad Ahandoost.
... Payvand News - 3/24/06 ... --