On behalf of FEZANA’s 26 member associations and 15 corresponding groups, we wish you and your family a very happy, fulfilling, healthy and joyous Nowruz. As we mark the ushering in of Spring, we celebrate the renewal, unity, vibrancy and growth of our beloved North American Zarathushti community.
Nowruz is increasingly the world’s cultural celebration and embrace of the new year. Some call it the Zoroastrian new year, others call it a Persian or Iranian new year. Either way, we have been lucky to have many public or celebrity ambassadors, including comedian and actor Maz Jobrani, who recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and in an instant educated millions of people on the beauty of Nowruz and Zoroastrianism.
Another high-profile media story also caught our eye. The March 18, New York Times Sunday Review published an opinion piece by acclaimed best selling New York Times author, Firoozeh Dumas, that brought Nowruz to life for millions of readers around the world.
While we sincerely appreciate Firoozeh’s story, reflections and accounts of special family and cultural celebrations on and around Nowruz, one sentence stood out: ‘No indigenous people were displaced, no wars were fought, and no one died for us to have this celebration.’
We disagree, as this statement is factually wrong and worthy of correction. Zoroastrians struggled, died and fled with many other Iranians who fled to North America from Iran in the late seventies and early eighties. They fled and risked their lives escaping from religious extremism in order to practice Zoroastrianism freely, and to celebrate Nowruz peacefully in the Western diaspora.
So to say no one died for us to have this celebration, or that no indigenous people were displaced, is an unwitting error on Dumas’ part and perhaps should have been peer reviewed. Zoroastrians today join many religions and countries throughout the world in celebrating Nowruz for its cultural, communal and familial significance more than anything. We share Nowruz with the world, but where inaccuracy exists we will correct the record.
Across North America and throughout the world, people and communities are uniting to celebrate Nowruz. From parades in major metropolitan areas to feasts in community halls, and tree planting events to beautiful Haft-Senee or Haft-Seen tables in homes to celebrate the beauty and symbolism of Nowruz.
We salute thought leaders like Dr. Khosro E. Mehrfar, who was born in Tehran and moved to the United States in 1979 to pursue higher education and a better life for him and his family. Dr. Mehrfar recently chronicled the Nowruz experience from his learned vantage point in an article published by the Los Angeles Times and on the Iranian American Community Group web site. I encourage you to take a moment to read Dr. Mehrfar’s articles if you want to truly understand and experience the beauty and heritage of Nowruz.
History matters especially to those who fled religious persecution in search of religious freedom. It is only through their lens and perspective that we can truly appreciate the tender and fertile ground required for Nowruz to flourish, openly, without fear.
Hamazor Hama Asho-Bed!
(May we all be united in strength and righteousness)
Homi D. Gandhi