Persian New Year celebrates the beginning of spring

“Dancing is a form of joy,” said Kourosh Torkashund. (Tim White)

Katie Widner

Over 100 students gathered in the Saddleback College quad on Tuesday, March 24 in celebration of Noruz, the Persian New Year.

This ancient Iranian holiday begins on the first day of spring, celebrating the arrival of spring and symbolizing new life. The two-hour festival at Saddleback included live music, dancing, and a food buffet, all done in traditional Persian style.

“At a traditional Noruz ceremony, they will set up different elements,” said Anoushah Rasta, 19, journalism. “It’s all [designed] for wishing good luck for the new year.”

Two tables in front of the stage were littered with books, antiques, and heirlooms, along with an array of symbolic items. Flowers, plants and grass on the tables symbolized growth and new life; candle flames symbolized the burning of bad things.

The festival began with music: both a violinist and keyboardist played traditional Persian music for the audience. A professional dancer demonstrated modern and classical Persian dance, and invited members of the audience to participate.

“Dancing is a form of joy,” said Kourosh Torkashund, English as a Second Language, via translator.

On the first day of spring, everything begins fresh and the celebration lasts thirteen days, said Aghdas Karbassi, psychology. Celebrants believe that whatever a person does during the new year will affect the rest of the year, so people are friendly, gifts are given, and life is generally celebrated.

Later in the celebration, attendees were served traditional Persian cuisine: beef kabobs, chicken, and rice with herbs.

“It was fantastic. Everybody enjoyed this party,” Karbassi said. “I hope we repeat it again.”

The festival was hosted by the Diversity Student Council, a new branch of the Associated Student Government that will be officially incorporated next year. The council organizes campus events that celebrate different cultures and ethnicities.

We like to do events that target issues of diversity on the campus, said member Naseam Alavi, 20, international relations.

“People talk about Iran all the time,” Alavi said. “We want to get students to know the people and traditions, not just the politics.”

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