The Iranian Student Association (IRASA) and the International Student Council (ISC) hosted the first ever Persian New Year party (or Nowruz as the Persians call it) Tuesday, March 26 at the Colorado School of Mines campus. The event was a large one with over 100 people in attendance. The celebration started with both Farshad Harirchi and Kamyar Mosavat explaining the celebration to the audience. “We celebrate the new year in springtime and we believe that spring is the beginning of the year.” Mosavat when on to explain that much life in the natural world begins in the spring, “You know the trees blossom and the birds wake up,” concluding that it would make sense for the year to start in spring along with the start of many other things.
Mosavat and Harirchi went on to explain the traditions surrounding Nowruz. “They begin preparing for Nowruz a couple of weeks beforehand. By cleaning their entire house as a family and they call it Khooneh Tekooni.” This roughly translates to “shaking the house.”
The new year is a 12 day festival. On the last Wednesday evening of the year, the Persians celebrate shanbeh soori which means Wednesday feast, though it is also called “the festival of fire.” On this day people make fires outside their houses as they jump over the fire. While they jump over the fire it is custom to say the phrase “my sadness to you, your hotness to us,” as they wish for good luck in the new year.
The most prominent symbol of Nowruz is the haft seen table, aptly named because Seen is the persian letter “S” and all seven of the items that decorate the table start with the letter “S.” Farshad and Kamyar explained the significance of the items on the table, saying, “Each of these items represents a very important symbol of life. The first item is Sabzeh or wheat sprouts, which symbolize rebirth and the second an apple which symbolizes beauty and health. Then there is sir, or garlic which represents cure and medicine, Serkeh which is vinegar is another item put on the table, it is a sign of patience. The next item is Somāq, a type of fruit without a translation and its color represents sunshine. Then there is Senjed which is, I think silverberry which represents love and passion, And the last item on the table is Samanu which is sweet pudding and it represents affluence.”
After the twelfth day of the festival, Iranians are supposed to take certain precautions to ward off the bad luck associated with the thirteenth day of the year. “To remove this curse or bad luck it is a custom that people go out for picnics and that girls tie the wheat sprouts into their hair and wish for marriage in the next year and many other things.”
After the introduction to the customs behind the celebration, Farshad and Kamyar turned the microphone over to comedian K-Von. K-Von is half Persian himself, and he kept the theme of the party alive for another hour poking fun at certain aspect of Persian culture. After K-Von’s performance, traditional Persian food was served, along with a type of Persian ice cream. The rest of the night was occupied by dancing to modern Persian music. It was a fun night for both Persian and non-Persian celebrators.