Nowruz Online connects Americans to the world

Members of the Rastak group (Negar Ezazi, right, playing the daf, a large tambourine, and Piran Mohajeri, playing the oud) perform on stage. (© Avahid Salemi / AP Images)

A traditional Persian New Year table setting includes seven elements that each symbolize something important, such as beauty, longevity, or patience. (© Ali Sadr)

Millions of Americans will celebrate the Persian New Year, Nowruz, on March 20.

Nowruz welcomes the arrival of spring, coinciding with the vernal equinox (when the sun moves over the Earth’s equator, evenly dividing the day and night hours). The celebration originated in ancient Persia, but it has also been observed by various communities in Central Asia, Western Asia, South Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Black Sea basin for more than 3000 years old.

In the United States, museums and cultural centers welcome Nowruz Festivities. This year, due to the pandemic, they will be reaching out on the Internet.

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, for example, will present a live, online demonstration of the preparation kuku (a traditional Persian egg dish), as well as performance videos by Iranian contemporary dance troupe Aisan Hoss and Dancers.

Kuku sabzi omelet made with herbs, eggs and nuts is served with yogurt. (© AS Food studio / Shutterstock)

The museum’s website will also host storytelling to showcase Persian history and culture, and online visitors will experience the traditional decor of the Nowruz table, haft sin, a broadcast ceremony with seven symbolic objects to help usher in a happy and prosperous year.

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, home to the largest collection of ancient Middle Eastern artifacts in the United States, will invite online visitors to learn about Persian history from scholars , play old board games and listen to stories.

Christopher Woods, director of the institute, said the events would pay homage to Persian culture and history while highlighting the relevance of the institute’s work and its collaboration with Iranian peers, including Iranian archaeologists. and antiques experts.

Members of the Rastak group (Negar Ezazi, right, playing the daf, a large tambourine, and Piran Mohajeri, playing the oud) perform on stage. (© Avahid Salemi / AP Images)

The nonprofit Persian Cultural Center in San Diego will be offering a concert through its Facebook, YouTube and Instagram sites. The concert will feature Rastak, an Iranian group that reinterprets Persian folk music by incorporating contemporary rhythms. According to Ali Sadr, a member of the centre’s board of directors, the organization’s virtual programming will also include the Persian Dance Academy performing folk dances.

“Music plays a big role in all aspects of our life and in all cultural events,” said Sadr.

In Iran and neighboring countries, families typically celebrate Nowruz for 13 days, Sadr said. “In the diaspora, since most people are far from their [extended] families, we have chosen to celebrate together. In the pre-pandemic years, this meant a live concert and dance performance, where spectators – including children – were invited to join the dancers.

“This year we are ready and we will be celebrating virtually,” said Sadr. “We expect thousands of people across the country and around the world, including Iran, to join us.”

About Keith Johnson

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