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Nowruz: The Iranian New Year has truly gone GLOBAL

By Davood N. Rahni New York

Why we ALL wear symbolically colorful outfits

By all accounts the number of special events commemorating Nowruz has proliferated worldwide in the past decade. Credit, by and large, +goes to the persistent 75 million Iranians in Iran and their transplanted counterparts now residing in every corner of the world, who have persevered to preserve their cultural heritage by adhering to their New Year's rituals.

The Iranian New Year, Nowruz is now celebrated by 300 million inhabitants in Central, South and Southwest Asia, North Africa and Eastern Europe.  More specifically, it is as if Nowruz has become the symbolic nostalgic commonality that integrates peoples from as far away from IRAN as Xingjian's northwest China and Himalayan foothills of Kashmir, India and Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia and the surrounding smaller republics in the Caucuses and Caspian Sea regions, Turkey, Albania, Iraq and the Kurdistan regions, the Persian Gulf sheikdoms and sultanates, as far west as Egypt.  This brings back the memories of the Achaemenid Dynasty, circa 2,500 years ago, when 30 nations were equal members of the federal government of Cyrus and Darius and observed Nowruz. Tens of millions from the nations above in the west, especially three million from Iran-one million in the U.S. alone-commemorate Nowruz with much exhilaration.  Incredulous as it may seem, a version of the vernal equinox was celebrated in the west and the U.S. throughout the 18th century as the "common" New Year.

Nowruz coinciding with the vernal spring equinox has been celebrated around Haft-Sin tables for millennia. It usually begins on the first day of the spring season where solar calendars are used. The Nowruz ceremonies actually commence on the Tuesday evening proceeding the vernal equinox called Chahar Shenbeh Souri ceremony, and concludes on Sizdah Bedar the thirteenth day of the New Year. On this last day everyone spends the day, dawn to dusk, outdoors reaffirming their respectful commitment to Mother Nature.

The U.S. Congress (HR 267) has passed a proclamation recognizing Nowruz.  President Obama and a large number of U.S and Canadian Congressmen and Parliamentarians, Senators, Governors and Mayors have also issued annual proclamations recognizing Nowruz and the multifaceted contributions Iranian-Americans and Iranian-Canadians have made to their respective new homelands. The next step in this progression is to ensure that Nowruz is included on every school district and university calendars in the U.S. and Canada.

What is most striking is the increasing active participation and financial/artistic support of Iranians toward Nowruz events in Diaspora, especially those in the U.S. and Canada. Upon close examination of the calendar of events and local media, one can discern the number of Chahr Shanbeh Souri ceremonies, Nowruz Gala and Banquets, Sizadah Bedar picnics, street fairs and festivals, and last, but not least, the Persian Parade extravaganza in New York CITY, to run in the hundreds, if not thousands.

As we most enthusiastically participate in these events by our presence as onlookers or better yet, as active participants, in Parade processions and street festivals and fairs, it is crucial that we be colorfully dressed to make a most positive and uplifting impression of our culture on the broader mainstream spectators. We should harmoniously wear the three distinct colors of the flag of Iran red, white and green as one integrated outfit, or those of the U.S. flag red, white and blue, or, better yet, put on traditional costumes from our preferred region of Iran, especially for children.  Our professional uniforms should not be too cumbersome to wear in unison with peers, as to bring out the best in everyone.  This should apply not only to the parade central participants but to vendors as well as the cheerful spectators.

For street festivals, fairs and parades, groups of compatriots with common regional heritage (e.g., a region in north America, such as Toronto or Los Angeles, or, a region, such as Guilan, back in the motherland), or professional peers (e.g., physicians, professors, scholars, lawyers, public and civil servants, engineers, artists, etc.) should also unite and form their own well organized floats or marches showcasing their own banners, insignia and uniforms when partaking in such events. They should seek sub-licenses from the event organizers in advance and cover in part the overall event expenses. Everyone attending Nowruz events including those, in or along the parade procession routes, should bring a stash of brand new dollar bills ($1, 2, 5 or 10 obtained from the banks at the preceding Christmas) or golden one dollar coins and pass them out randomly to small children as Eidi. You would be pleasantly supervised at the positive energy this bounces right back at you! Overall, these events could only grow as long as the masses embrace them by putting their all out support behind them.

We, as a community in Diaspora, have learned to develop and freely express our opinions without fear, while respecting points of views expressed by others, and understand that cultural events are not exclusive to this or that specific group, caste, class or even a specific country, but rather such events have and continue to transcend physical and political boundaries. We appreciate the commonalities that tie and unite us all together for the more noble cause of solidarity and camaraderie where individual interests can best be served under a grand community umbrella. 

Information about Norouz and events across the globe
Persian New Year 1388

Articles on Norouz:
Norouz is a Celebration of Life

    Norouz : Persian New Year
    Norouz, the (Iranians) New Year and the Haft-Sin Symbolism

... Payvand News - 04/18/09 ... --

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