Iran News ...


04/08/08

Sizdeh Bedar 2008: The Annual Persian Picnic in New York Metro

By Davood N. Rahni (photography by R. Sedighian & A. Afshar)

New York State's Bear Mountain Park, located fifty miles north of New York City enroute to Albany has remained a popular outing get-together spot where Iranian-Americans have returned for over thirty years to celebrate the last day of the Persian New Year (Norooz) holiday season called Sizdeh Bedar. Sizdeh Bedar translates as the Thirteenth (13!) day of the merry season.
 

This year's brisk weather coupled with nostalgic memories of prior celebrations drew hundreds more participants, five generations all in all, to the Park Horseshoe pavilion and the adjourning prairie.  People started trickling in to the prairie flanked by a deep blue pristine glacier lake as early as eight and in droves by the early afternoon. The aroma of assorted Persian Kabobs, fried white and salmon fish and Saffron vegetable basmati rice, Ashe Reshteh and Shole Ghalamkar, and the various traditional sherbets and drinks persuaded any restricted dieter to make an exception for the day by indulging in the heavenly feast!

Then, there were all day dancing groups of young and not so young who moved and whirled to the mixed tunes of American, international and Persian music.  Those present at this celebration truly represented a microcosm of the affluent, highly educated and cultured, and immensely contributing Iranian-American Community of one million strong,  comprised of university professors and scholars, business executives and entrepreneurs, artists and musicians, civic and government servants, healthcare (physicians/dentists) and legal professionals, students and children, etc.  This rich ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of Iranian-Americans was also recently showcased at the annual Persian Parade in New York City where the colorfully dressed participants were matched in enthusiasm by the spectators lining the sidewalks who had dressed up in traditional costumes and the traditional Iranian loved colors of green, white and red.

At the Sizdeh Bedar picnic, it was easy to find a companion or two with whom to play backgammon, chess, cards, alak dolak, soccer, dodge ball, volleyball and so on.  The aroma of freshly brewed tea spiked with cardamom, rosewater, cinnamon, rose and jasmine petals was intoxicating and the various traditional Persian pastries and confectioneries were a perfect accompaniment.

 

Sizdeh Bedar, the thirteenth day of the New Year, is a day when Iranians spend the last day of the Norooz holidays at a picnic in the orchards or on the prairies or by the seaside or in the foothills.  Here, they eat and drink, dance and sing and play. On this day, single women knot together blades of grass in the hope of marriage before the next Norooz!  At the park, we noted a few giggling ladies knotting grass, while a few young men nearby copied them, as they now share the same predicament of finding their ideal love companion for life! Integral to Norooz are the visits exchanged and tributes paid to elders.  Youngsters receive gifts from their elders.  At the Bear Mountain picnic, as per tradition, families brought their grown sprouts, decorated with green, white and red ribbons and threw them into flowing water.

Bear Mountain Park, nestled in the elevation of the Appalachian Mountain Range as it passes through New York State, is situated in a strategically significant spot in the history of the United States. Early in the morning of the third Sunday of the months of May-October, Ashkan Khalanj (khalaj1@verizon.net ) leads hikes along the trails and summits of this park.  Here Iranian-Americans repeat their monthly ritual of visitations and potluck lunch (for more info on the monthly picnic contact roya_sed@yahoo.com .)

It is said that the British colonial forces were last defeated on the Hudson River near the Park in a community called Stony Point and the Royal Navy immediately headed back home to the U.K.  The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is located a few minutes from the Park.  It was the first academy of its kind established after the declaration of independence and the founding of the Union. The suspension bridge with same name, Bear Mountain, is approaching its centennial birthday soon.

As the dusk approached, the park rangers had to literally beg the Persian picnic diehards to leave the premise as they gratifyingly yearned for next year's Sizdeh Bedar in good health and happiness, joy and prosperity.


Please see the event's Photos at

Album No. One (R. Sedighian)
Album No. Two (A. Afshar)
 

... Payvand News - 04/08/08 ... --



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