Persian New Year at GCC

Jennifer Elbe

The Persian New Year celebration at Glendale College began March 11 in Plaza Vaquero. At noon Paris Noori, adviser to the Persian Student Association took her place on stage as the master of ceremonies officially welcoming everyone. This is the largest cultural event at GCC.

Persian New Year, called “Norwuz,” is the celebration of a new season and the return of spring. Noori said the Persian New Year was about putting aside hurt feelings and start over anew. It signifies the passing of the old and the start of life. The literal meaning of “Norwuz” is “new day.”

People came from as far as Calabasas, Beverly Hills and Woodland Hills to be part of the Norwuz celebration held every year at GCC. As the celebration got under way DJ Alex spun Persian music and members of the Persian community danced in the grass.
This is not just any celebration. It is an event that can last for up to three weeks.

To prepare for Persian New Year it is necessary to begin a few days before. The first step is “Khaneh Tekany” or spring-cleaning: rugs, curtains, polishing pans, pots or furniture, to renewing old items in the home. After “Khanah Tekany” on the eve of the Wednesday of the year is “Chahar-Shanbeh Suri.” This is the Wednesday Feast. “Take my paleness, sadness and problems.” They chant, “Give me your redness, warmth, energy and livelihood,” while jumping over one of seven fires comprised of dried shrubs and brush.

Following the “Khanah Tekany” is the “Deed-o-Bazdeed.” This is the hour before the turn of the New Year. The family is dressed in new clothing, from head to toe, and gathered around the haft-seen. Everyone is joyous, happy and waiting impatiently.

The haft-seen is a lavishly table decorated table that is put on display according to tradition. Its significance is similar to a Christmas tree. The haft-seen will offer the “Seven S’s.” These are seven items that beginning with the Persian letter S. Those seven items are: “sabzeh” or sprouted wheat, “sanjed” a fruit from the Lotus tree, “seeb” is an apple, “sohan” is a sweet pudding made from wheat sprouts, “serkeh” is vinegar, “sumagh” are crushed sumac berries and “seer” is garlic.

Each of the seven items ward off bad demons and evil or ushers in positive energy and a better tomorrow. “My favorite thing on haft-seen is the apples.” Persian Club President Shahbod Hosseini said, “It is because they are my favorite thing to eat”.

During the course of Norwuz people will visit one another, share a meal and exchange gifts. It is customary to visit elders and highly respected individuals first. Gifts or “eydy” are given to children and the young adults. It is an event for the whole community from grandparents, to children and all ages in between as was shown by happy attendees.

The GCC celebration was only one day but the celebrating will continue through April 4. The official start of Persian New Year was on Saturday. Persian New Year at Glendale is celebrated a week or 10 days before the actual date. Noori said this is done so it does not conflict with family Norwuz plans but all of the planning is “hard work”.

Both Damon’s Steak House and Shekarchi Restaurant, located in Glendale, offered meals for of $10. Damon’s Steak House offered either a chopped Cobb salad or a chicken mango papaya salad. Shekiah Restaurant served either beef lule kabob or chicken lule kabob and bastamic rice. A yogurt drink was included in the price.

“Please go out, learn and explore something new,” said Noori. She encourages students, faculty and staff to, “Become more familiar with a culture other than your own”. She continued on saying that she would have like to have a stronger college following and more involvement from the college in the future. There are good times for all who look for them.

For more information contact the Persian Club at