Illustration by Yu Sugita
The Persian community is the third largest in Glendale. Norooz, which means “New Day,” is the secular holiday that marks the New Year for many Persian and Central Asian communities.
“Norooz is celebrated all around the world … It doesn’t have any root in religion, or any humankind made belief. It only depends on nature,” said Reza Zarghamafshar, president of the Persian Students Association and a GCC student ambassador.
Norooz is always celebrated on the first day of spring. This year, the holiday will be observed on March 21. It also has its roots in Zoroastrianism, the prominent religion of the ancient Persian Empire, before the advent of Islam.
There are various Norooz traditions and rituals, including “Chahar Shanbe Suri,” which requires gathering around a bonfire at night to chant a pleasant phrase that will revoke all of the unpleasant events of the past year.
During Tahvil, the exact moment of the new year, people exchange greetings, wishes, and gifts.
“Our country, during our history, has been attacked and invaded by different cultures,” Zarghamafshar said. “Keeping Norooz always helped us to never lose our culture.”
On March 26, the Persian Students Association will celebrate Norooz in Plaza Vaquero from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event will feature traditional Persian music and cuisine. A booth will educate participants about the seven elements of the Haft-Seen Table, the traditional table setting for Norooz. The table includes items that start with the letter “s” in Farsi, such as “sib,” or apples, and “sir,” or garlic.
“We will invite everyone to celebrate with us,” Zarghamafshar said. “ The Norooz doesn’t belong to any special culture. It came from Persia, but it only consists of the rebirth of nature. The seven elements of Norooz are our national symbols. Wherever they are, we are. It is our icon. Wherever we are, Norooz is with us.”