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New York Metro Annual Sizdah Bedar Picnic Draws Hundreds of Iranian-Americans

Ali Afshar photography

Davood N. Rahni reporting


The cirrus clouds turning to drizzling spring shower, a weather in the lower 50's at the Bear Mountain State Park, could not dampen the cheerful enthusiasm of many hundreds of Iranian-Americans who, as in previous years gathered for 2007 Sizdah Bedar  for a Day of fun and joy, dance and music, food and drinks, and games and entertainment. It was as if the warm exhilarating elations of the crowd had pushed away the harsh chilling rain to the other side of Bear Mountain where Zahak is said to live! 



The rectangular braziers filled with molten red hickory and oak charcoals, and covered with flat skewers of beef and chicken kabobs, accompanied basmati rice soaked with saffron and tahdig (rice crispy), sabzi polo ba mahi (vegetable rice and fish), ashe reshteh (noodle soup), cutlets, assorted salads-green, shirazi and olivieh-on the tables.  The lavish potluck-shared lunch was then complemented with immense number of Persian deserts and pastries, confectioneries, cakes, dried fruits, ice-cream, pistachios and chestnuts, all interspersed with sips of hot freshly brewed Persian tea (black and green teas, rose pedals, cardomens, citrus blossoms, and ginger or cinnamons). The marathon Persian gastronomical indulgence was finally topped with intake of ample amount of intoxicating fresh fruits such as watermelon, honey dews, pomegranates, and sweet lemons in the afternoon.



Nostalgic, reminiscent stories of the distant past, intertwined with debate of current affairs and Norouz related activities such as the pride of the New York Iranian-Persian Parade, were reverberating throughout the Park across the deep blue lake. The expected migratory, now permanently settled Canadian geese were also treated with the left over from the divine Persian cuisine!




The annual event is only growing every year. This, in-and-of itself is the positive impression the grassroots event has made on the Iranian-American community in the New York Metropolitan area and the lower Hudson Valley.  Observing the crowd, one could recognize up to five successive generations (from great-grand mother to great- grand children) in a few families mingling together with LOVE.  There was nothing more joyful than gazing at a couple, approaching their centennials, playing backgammons while psyching each other out with their metaphorically figurative prose and maxims of the distant past. It reminded me of the chess/backgammon set discovered in Shahre Sookhteh Zabol of nearly 10,000 years ago (southeastern Iran).


One of the most beautiful rituals was the generous sharing of food and sweets with not only the compatriots who had arrived under-prepared, but also with the passing strangers. Suggestions were made for the possible volunteers to prepare and sell food on-site for a donation to a noble cause such as the Parade next year.  There was even a survey circulated to gauge the community response for a possible regular monthly picnic congregation in one of the area parks.



Epitomizing, the Picnic Extravaganza reaffirmed the community's resolve to do what has got to be done, to preserve their rich culture, and to make the heart contend in lieu of rain, shine, wind, hail, snow, heat, cold, or adversary. LIFE IS SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!



... Payvand News - 4/3/07 ... --

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