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03/28/17

Nowruz at New York's Dare Mehr

By Davood N. Rahni


Nowruz, the secular Persian New Year that transcends religions, regions and borders, but instead binds humanity as one since antiquity (this year 3755,) was once again upon us.  As families arrived in mostly all-white and colorful gowns to enjoy the Nowruz gala at the newly inaugurated Dare Mehr in Suffern New York, they could not help but be mesmerized by the captivating warmth of the sun shining down on them.


Dare Mehr in Suffern New York
( photo credit: Shirin Kumaana-Wadia)

The new Dare Mehr Zoroastrian Temple (DMZT) now on its first anniversary, shone with its spectacular architecture and the rectangular distinctly Persian style facade. Its courtyard with a round fountain nostalgically conjured up the historical grandeur of the Atash-kadeh in Yazd Iran. Dare Mehr (the gate of love-sun) has already become the top destination for hundreds of patrons in the NY metropolitan community to commemorate seasonal festivals. However, the New Year at the spring vernal equinox had already passed on March 20 at 06:28:40 A.M. and, made this super bright Saturday March 25 the first occasion that attracted over 450 multi-generational Nowruz lovers the chance to attend!  It was as if Ferdowsi himself holding his Shahnameh the epic poem of the Persian King on his lap, was present hymning his 30,000 poetry verses from millennia ago.

The Nowruz gala was as in prior decades co-sponsored by ZAGNY and IZA. Passing through the bi-level central foyer next to the sacred fire alter (Atashe Niyayesh) and the prayer-meditation hall encapsulated from floor to ceiling in glass, the guests entered the impressive grand hall with its multiple hanging chandeliers. Beautiful calming music played in the background gave everyone a mixed feeling of melancholy and jubilation.  Although the patrons were primarily Parsis-the noble Persians who had in two mass exoduses emigrated to Mumbai of Gujarat in India to escape religious persecutions-one could easily recognize the presence of a large number of Persian Americans from Iran including Zoroastrians by faith, as well as compatriots from Caucasia, Central Asia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kurdistan of Iraq and Turkey, and even one Uighur couple from Ürümqi the capital of the Xinjiang province of China and a Bulgari couple!

The emcee Kurshid, Public health Professor turned ZAGNY Board member, began the evening by congratulating everyone for the Nowruz, wishing all a New Year filled with hope, health, love, harmony with mother nature, joy, peace and prosperity.  The string and piano music performance by the three Iranian Americans brothers, the Zandieh's and their father, was simply breathtaking. The elders passed out money to the youth, a gift tradition kept since antiquity. In the corner of the center hall, underneath the carving replica from Persepolis stood a table covered with Haft-seen, the seven plant based items that each begins with the letter "s" in Persian.  The drinks served throughout, Persian appetizers and the divine Parsi Cuisine that followed, topped off by deserts, kept everyone indulged.  Then, all danced to the tune of Persian, Parsi, Indian, and western melodies till midnight!  The keynote speech, by a young and brilliant orator, a Zoroastrian priest of Iranian heritage from Toronto, was the zenith of the whole event. She eloquently shared her perspective that Zoroastrianism; one might self-proclaim claim to be a Zoroastrian by faith, embracing a sheer cultural celebration of Nowruz to the most comprehensive adherence to theologically driven belief in Avesta, Gathas, and Yasna.

As dancing intensified, one could not help but be impressed with how this diverse, nonetheless, unified community has moved far beyond parochial ethnos to universal ethos where humanity, humility, and comradery, were the overriding driving forces. To witness the Bulgarian couple, the Kurdish woman and his American spouse, the couple from Xinxiang, the few Tajiki and Bukharin's, Parsis and all Persians in droves dancing alongside each other, was platonically utopic. The fact that all major religions if not by practice then by birth were present was immaterial to the commonality in life and family aspirations that bound everyone and humanity for that matter in the grand hall.

The birth of Zarathustra was celebrated the following day worldwide. Here is his birthday in Tehran and Iran. As to the guests at Dare Mehr Nowruz, well, they reluctantly left in early hour of dawn and in anticipation of returning soon for other seasonal festivities such as Tiregan, MehreganYalda and Sadeh and of course for a great many Nowruzes to come. 

... Payvand News - 03/28/17 ... --



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