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Celebrating the Persian New Year in Colorado

Westminster acknowledges holiday known as Noruz


Each year on the Persian New Year, Westminster resident Nushin Farjadi recalls just what it’s like to touch history.

When she was 11, her parents brought her to the Iranian city of Shiraz to celebrate the holiday, known as Noruz.

Shiraz is near the Persepolis, the towering pillars and remains of the First Persian Empire. It was where royalty historically honored the holiday.

Walking amongst the intricately carved ruins of the Persepolis on the day of the Persian New Year, Farjadi said she felt like she was traveling through time.

“I knew that 2,500 years ago, Noruz was celebrated on these exact stairs that I’m standing,” she said.

Today, Farjadi celebrates the holiday at home in Colorado, and she’s asked the city of Westminster to help her.

The Westminster City Council plans to pass a proclamation during the March 13 city council meeting.

“This is just one example of how we try to celebrate diversity and inclusion,” Westminster City Councilor Anita Seitz said. “The goal is to recognize that our diversity is a real asset and that we can learn from each other. That’s what makes us stronger.”

Traditionally, Noruz is celebrated on the exact moment of the vernal equinox, marking the first day of spring. No matter what time of day or night, families and friends will gather for a celebration to hug and salute the New Year.

The 14-day holiday commemorates shedding the unwanted layers of the past and starting anew. It will occur on March 20 at 4:28 a.m. in Colorado this year.

The Colorado Children’s Noruz Foundation (CCNF), a volunteer-run nonprofit, started in 2005 to plan and host a local celebration complete with crafts and traditional dance performances. This event — which has sold out a 500-person venue for the past nine years — is scheduled for March 18 in Glendale.

Attendees can see and learn about the Haftseen, a symbolic table covered in items that have significance: apples represent beauty, garlic represents health, mirrors honor self-reflection and the list goes on.

Executive Director and Co-Founder of CCNF Ramina Kashani venerates Noruz for many reasons, but primarily for its inclusivity.

“I love it because it’s nonreligious,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you believe in to celebrate Noruz; it’s a really uniting festivity.”

The holiday dates back to the farming era when families were excited for a new growing season.

Farjadi and her family were living Iran's capital Tehran when they traveled to Shiraz, another Iranian city known for its wine and spring blooms.

A few years later, she and her family emigrated to the United States and she’s been in Colorado ever since.

She still has childhood memories of seeing her home country light up during Noruz. It’s traditional to wear a new, brightly colored item of clothing — sometimes an entire outfit — on the first day of spring to watch the festivities come alive.

“When you walk on the streets of Iran on Noruz day, everyone is dressed up in spring colors like red and purple,” Farjadi said, remembering the gleeful sights and smells of fresh flowers.

The Persian Empire was expansive, spanning from Turkey all the way to the north of India. If you travel to the modern-day countries, families across the Middle East and Asia are still celebrating Noruz.

“It’s really amazing — you will see an unbelievable amount of colors,” Kashani said of her last visit back to her home country for Noruz. “The trees are in bloom and it’s just a beautiful time to be in Iran.”

Three events to participate in Noruz this month:

March 13: The Westminster City Council will honor the New Year with a proclamation during the city council meeting on Monday evening.

March 18: The Colorado Children’s Foundation for Noruz is celebrating the holiday on Saturday at 3 p.m. with activities for children and adults including crafts and traditional dance performances. You can find more information on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/coloradochildrensnoruz

March 24: A breakfast celebration with Iranian snacks and tea will be hosted at the Colorado Capitol. The Persian Cultural Circle, which includes Farjadi, has coordinated the event sponsored by state Rep. Paul Rosenthal. More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1875671312678620/


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