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Persian Pride: Mehregan Festival in Orange County, California

By Hossein Hosseini


On September 9 and 10, 2006, Orange County witnessed the 11th Annual Mehregan Persian Festival. Organized jointly by NIPOC, Network of Iranian-American Professionals of Orange County (, Khayam Persian School Foundation, ( ), and other Iranian cultural and student groups in Southern California and hundreds of volunteer who donated  their time and pounds of their talent to bring to life the traditions, tastes, sights and sounds of their beloved country in a land far away from their roots, and to share with others a culture too rich and unique not to be shared.



A record crowd of over 20,000 people attended the two-day event. This year’s festival was dedicated to the famous Persian King, Cyrus the Great. The festival grounds were decorated with artifacts reminding the visitors of history and the contribution this king has made to human kind.  


The festival can best be summarized as a time to reflect on the past and welcome the future with love, compassion and understanding. The crowd was welcomed by posters and artifacts along the corridor walls, most of which contained information about the ancient Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great and Iranian customs.



Cyrus is viewed as an embodiment of the Mehregan philosophies. Cyrus the Great "was a historical figure at least at the same level as Alexander and Caesar," said Cyrus the Great biographer Cyrus Kar. "He drafted the first human rights legislation in recorded history, over a thousand years before the Magna Carta. He abolished slavery. "He freed the Jews from 60 years of Babylonian captivity and he built their temple in Jerusalem," he said. Kar, also a documentary filmmaker, was invited to the festival to prescreen his documentary film about the life and times of Cyrus the Great.



Twelve provinces of Iran (ostans) were presented by having Costumes and posters showing historical places of each province. They were: Kurdestan, Gilan, Esfahan, Kerman, Yazd, Azarbaijan, Khoozestan, Golestan, Hormozgan, Khorasan, Tehran, and Fars. There was also a tent dedicated to Assyria. 


Whether it was with dancing, music or poetry readings, three stages set at the front, middle and back of the rectangular field were constantly active with entertainment.

Food was plenty and as varied as people who attended, from kabobs, ashe reshteh and Persian ice cream to corn on the cob and Abghoosht.

Across from the stage of traditional dancers was a tent titled "Cyrus's Lounge" filled with young Persian teenagers dancing to Iranian hip-hop. As one would say "I like young people, I like that disco over there,” pointing to Cyrus's Lounge. "I love to dance and live young."  Young crowd were not the only ones dancing, older crowd gathered on thick red traditional rugs to watch the performance of such traditional singers as Aghili, Behzad, Shahla Sarashar, and Niloofar. Older men and women clapped or stood up and twisted their arms to the Persian version of Wayne Newton.



On the main stage such popular entertainers as Black Cats, Mehrshad, Strunz & Farah, Noosh Afarain, and Pyruz kept the crowd happy.  Cultural and folkloric  dance performed by  three major dance groups, Golsanam, Pro Dancers, and Beshkan Dance Academy were the favorite of young and old.


All and all it was a fantastic festival and everyone had a great Mehregan.  For more information or to help with next year’s Mehregan, please visit or email




... Payvand News - 9/19/06 ... --

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