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Haji Firuz Made My Day!

By Ali Moayedian - I was dropping off my son at school around 11 AM on Saturday when my cell phone rang. It was my wife. I was asked to pick up a few things from the specialty grocery store, International Food Bazaar (IFB). We were having a family get together and Aush Reshteh was being planned.  I made a vain attempt to get out of it as I wasn't really in the mood for shopping. I told her I wasn't properly clothed for the occasion!  That lame excuse didn't land me anywhere but at the store!

When I arrived at IFB (in San Jose, California), the first thing that welcomed me was the sight of a Haji Firuz who was greeting the shoppers right at the entrance!  That really cheered me up. I had seen this Haji Firuz last year too. Unlike the usual Haji Firuzes who are male and who darken their face, this one is a woman with a rather bright skin color -- One of the last remaining strongholds of the men has finally succumbed to the relentless attacks of the female species J

In Iranian culture, Haji Firouz is the traditional herald of the Nowruz season. Wearing black make-up and a red costume, Haji Firouz sings and dances through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and the news of the coming New Year.


Haji Firouz is also called Khawja Piruz, Khawja means master and Piruz/Firuz means successful. Haji in here is just a form of address and has nothing to do with Islamic hajj, like using 'sir' to address a gentleman in English without the person being a real 'Sir' in the technical sense.

Haji Firouz in the streets of Tehran
Photo by
Pedram Ghahremanloo

IFB is owned by an American-Arab family who have been running the place for about 30 years now. And as long as I've been their customer (for about 15 years), they have consistently provided a good service. Due to their loyal customer base and high demand, they have doubled the size of  their store in the past few years, and just recently they opened a restaurant in the same shopping center.  IFB has a good number of Iranian customers, perhaps over 50%.  Because of that, over the years I've seen them celebrating Norouz, each year better than the past.


This time the mood in the store was even more festive than usual. There was the Haji Firuz singing and dancing and handing out small boxes of tea as Norouz gift; Persian music was playing; and Norouz necessities like greens, Hyacinth (Sonbol in Persian), white fish, etc. were everywhere. The staff were also wearing traditional Iranian vests. All in all, it made it a great experience to shop while enjoying the ambiance.

I was having so much fun that I forgot that I didn't want to be there in the first place. I went and talked to the dear Haji Firuz (Azar Nourbakhsh) and asked her if I could take her picture and publish on the internet. She readily agreed and told me that she's proud of being Haji Firuz. This meant I had to go home, get my camera and make another trip to the store. It's interesting how things work... I was back in an hour for the rendezvous with Haji Firuz!

Haji Firuz
and Parmis, a very happy client

When I was done with taking the pictures, one of the owners invited me to also visit their restaurant since she had setup a Haftseen there. On our way there, I encountered an inviting scene in front of the restaurant where her son Ed was preparing kebabs over charcoal.

inside there was a beautiful Haftseen at the corner. It was still being completed. Some coins were missing which soon took their place and completed the picture J

Before I left, I had to order a few dishes of the Kebabs. It was hard to see the Kebab wraps and plates being prepared and resist them. So I left with a few of those and headed home. On the way, I stopped at school again and dropped a Kebab wrap for my son who was now in the intermission for the play he was acting in. He proudly announced to his fellow students: "My dad got me Persian Kebab." It felt good; as if I had just defeated the Greeks or Romans!

Ed fixing kebobs in front of the restaurant

Now to top it all off, the final act of the day was when Aush Reshteh made it to the table. It looked so great that I had to take a picture and share with you; and believe me that's all I could share J 

I'm not even going to attempt to spill the secrets of this Aush (let's just say lots of different herbs and beans plus specialty noodles).  All I can tell you is it was just perfect! And I'm not just saying this because my wife is going to read this piece J

click here to see high resolution

Wishing all a wonderful Norouz, and a happy and prosperous new year!

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

International Food Bazaar: 2052 Curtner Ave., San Jose, Ca. 95124 (408-559-3397)
International Kabob House: 2707 Union Ave., San Jose, Ca. 95124 (408-626-7211)

... Payvand News - 03/17/09 ... --

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