San Diego celebrates Nowrouz

Russell Lindquist

Grossmont student Mojdeh Badiei waves outside the House of Iran in Balboa Park (Photo: Russ Lindquist)

Russell Lindquist

SAN DIEGO — Thousands of people with ties to Iranian culture visited together Sunday, March 28, in and around the House of Iran, within the House of Pacific Relations at Balboa Park, for a day-long Jashn (Farsi, meaning “celebration”) for the 7th day of Nowrouz (Farsi, translated “new day” but signifying, in this context, “new year”).  Jashn for Nowrouz spans 13 days, beginning on the first day of spring. (For 2011, Nowrouz is from March 21st until April 2nd.)

DJ Al and DJ Mohsen – among others – respectively played Iranian pop-music as, at any given time, scores of attendees would sporadically break into dance for a song or two then simply stop in place – all the while conversing amongst each other.

Several Grossmont students of Persian descent attended the event.  Among them were Maniya “Maryam” Ghahramani, Mojdeh Badiei and Seena Haeri. Of Nowrouz, Ghahramani said that meeting with relatives and friends was the best part. Badiei said, “I always enjoy Nowrouz because sometimes a whole year will pass without a visit from certain family or friends, but they always visit for Nowrouz!”  Haeri beamed that, “Nowrouz is great because there are so many parties and so much good times!  I love Persian culture and the community and I’m always glad to be out enjoying the company of other Persians.”

Elaheh, a eleven-year-old Perisan girl – born in Iran but living in Ohio – was at the event and said, “I like that Nowrouz has so much celebrating and gift-giving with family and friends.”  She also mentioned that she was enjoying the event (but said that some young kids – such as her sister, Hanieh – do not like the event).  Eight-year-old Hanieh said, “it’s too loud!”

The girls’ mother, Mahtab said (in Farsi, translated by Elaheh) that among her favorite parts of Nowrouz is “Saabzeh” (plants that are typically one of the seven S-objects of hafseen – a symbolic gesture of renewal – wherein seven objects are placed on a table, ranging from coins to coffee to green plants, the names of each object beginning with “s”).

The girls’ father, Behyar said (in Farsi, translated by Elaheh) that his absolutely favorite part of Nowrouz is ajeel (a mix of nuts and seeds especially served for Nowrouz).  Behyar mentions also that he eats so much oajeel that his doctor has actually advised that he cut-down.

Kebab – an all-time favorite of Persian food – was served at several stands throughout the event which was was coordinated by the House of Iran in conjunction with the House of Pacific Relations (HPR), according to Arya Zeighmania, a delegate of the house of Iran.

Kebab - a favorite of Persian culture (Photo - Russ Lindquist)

Energy began to peter down at about 5pm, and the celebration concluded at around 530pm, without fanfare, as individual pockets of people made their respective ways to Balboa Park’s several parking lots.

For the upcoming final day of Nowrouz – April 2nd – the House of Iran will host jashn at a Persian national picnic, at Mission Bay.

In Iran, for each of the 13 days of Nowrouz, virtually everything – school, work, etc. – is put on hold, replaced by widespread merriment and home-visits from one family of friends to the next; but in the US, those who celebrate the holiday do so when they can but often not for each of the 13 days; however, the last day of Nowrouz is celebrated by most everyone because it falls on the 13th (of the Persian calendar), a day in which staying in is considered unlucky.

Of the House of Iran, Zeighmania said the following: “The house of Iran is a non-profit, non-religious, non-political entity which actually belongs to the city of San Diego. Thankfully, the city gives us the privilege here – perhaps unique to the world – to coordinate with, and learn from, ambassadors from so many other countries in a context that is non-profit, non-religious and non-political.”

Zeighmania then mentioned that he had, the night before, attended an event hosted by members of the House of Sweden, therein learning much about Sweden.  As an example, Zeighmania offered that, “many Swedes are not much for religion – they prefer instead spirituality in a more general sense.”

More information about the House of Iran is available on their website,

Lindquist is Managing Editor of the GCSummit; email him at [email protected]