With disco lights, Iranian music and food, the Iranian Student Association kicked off the celebrations of a festive New Year, or NoRuz, for all to enjoy on Wednesday.
It was a festival that had all the makings of a party and was attended by nearly 100 people. Dr. Homa Esfarjani, part-time lecturer of modern and classical languages, who helped organize the event.
“This year is the biggest one,” he said. “This year is more organized.”
NoRuz is a celebration of the rebirth of nature. While it is not related to any modern religion or ethnicity, it does however have roots in Zoroastrianism, states on the Iran Chamber Society website.
The ICS is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring all Iranian/Persian scholars together.
Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in Iran, or what was called Persia, before Islam gained popularity. It was conceived by a prophet named Zarathushtra sometime between 6,000 BC and 600 BC, according to the Ontario Scholars for Religious Tolerance.
The Ancient Iranian Cultural ‘ Religious Research ‘ Development Center said NoRuz was celebrated at the first sign of spring after the great ice age.
Esfarjani likened NoRuz to an array of other festivities. “Iranian New Year is a mix of Halloween, Christmas and New Year. All the families get together and celebrate,” he said.
Before NoRuz begins, those who celebrate buy new clothes and clean their houses in preparation of the New Year.
On the first night of Iranian New Year, participants wear colorful costumes and jump over fires in order to cleanse themselves from the past, students said. “More people went to the fire-jumping last night. They are good students and had school today,” ISA Vice President, Seyed Majid Mireskandari said.
At the event on Wednesday, an altar table was filled with items like apples, eggs, grass, vinegar, a pudding made of wheat, garlic, a mirror, candles — even money. Each item represents a form of rebirth, according to ISA President Ghazaleh Ehsani-nia.
“The seven ‘S,’ which are the basis for beginning of the year, are on the table for the celebration,” she said.
According to the Iran Chamber Society, the seven letters are all symbolic of the seven immortal beings that will protect the Persian people for the next year.
Over the next 13 days, people will celebrate NoRuz by exchanging gifts, coloring eggs, and gathering for parties, according to Hadeal, a student participating in the festivities.
The end of NoRuz falls, this year, on April 2. Families go to the parks to be with nature and not let bad luck come into their homes.
“The whole park (Balboa) is closed to the public and is open for the Iranian New Year. It’s in harmony with the rebirth of nature,” Esfarjani said.
The NoRuz celebration also featured music and dancing, including a cultural dance performed by Mahtab Rashidi along with a singing performance by Ashkan Sobhe.
Speakers at the event spoke mostly in Farsi, but the description was also in English.
“NoRuz always starts on the first day of spring. Everything is growing. The air is changing,” Esfarjani said.
Mireskandari said the ISA is a large student association, with nearly 1,500 members. Funding for the event came from the Associated Students, as well as the pockets of the officers.
“The finance committee gave $1,000 but there are lots of restrictions,” Mireskandari said.
According to Ehsani-nia and Mireskandari, the ISA was formed at CSUN five years ago. The club’s goal is to show people what Iranian culture is really about, and to teach students about the country and its history.