Joy, laughter, friendship, love, peace and harmony were everywhere in the rose garden at Bill Barber Park in Irvine on March 22 during the Iranian New Year celebration Nowruz, the most-celebrated event of the Persian calendar dating back millennia.
And after diaspora, since generations of Iranians have become one of the most successful and highly educated groups of people anywhere in the world, keeping alive the old, precious culture and traditions is almost a duty.
The Nowruz celebration, which was organized by 14 Persian organizations in Orange County under the Iranian American Community Group (IAC), started around 1 p.m. and ended at 6 p.m.
It was nicely managed after months of planning. The event was, and will remain, all-inclusive, free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome to share the joy of Nowruz and the rebirth of Mother Nature.
The program started with the American national anthem performed by Sonja Prince, followed by the Iranian national anthem performed by students from the Khayam Persian School Foundation in Irvine. Shiva Farivar, festival director, made the opening remarks, followed by Neda Movahed, the mistress of ceremonies, who did a superb job.
A children's dance group from the California Zoroastrian Center in Westminster, all nicely dressed up, performed beautiful dances. Irvine Police Chief David Maggard and some of his lieutenants were invited to the stage and praised for their excellent service in keeping safe the people of Irvine. Next, children from Khayam Foundation performed several beautiful cultural and traditional Persian dances, accompanied by Khayam musical performers.
Irvine Mayor Steven Choi and members of the City Council each talked about the importance of Nowruz and the message that it carries. Proclamations of Nowruz were presented to Farivar and Orange County's Persian communities by the cities of Costa Mesa and Irvine.
Being an all-inclusive celebration of life, joy, peace and harmony, Nowruz knows no boundaries. Some representatives of our elected officials, such as Naz Namazi, district director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), were among the people enjoying Nowruz. The backstage banners and drop-downs showing the pictorial history of Iran from ancient times were done by Amini-Sam from the La Jolla-based Jamshid Foundation.
The nice, colorful traditional spread featured seven items starting with the letter S, along with other items representing the blessings bestowed upon us.
Tea, coffee and many kinds of Persian pastries were provided for free by the Caspian Restaurant in Irvine, and lunch was available for purchase. All along, DJ Julius did a great job, playing memorable songs for young and old. Many people, including Choi, danced on and off the stage, showing the power of music and the far-reaching, borderless scope of this international language.
Next, the Ham Ava group from the Iranian Cultural Center of Orange County performed nicely. And some of the most popular Iranian dances, as well as traditional countryside dances, were professionally done by Ava Dance Studio in Laguna Hills and Pro Dance Center in Irvine.
Reliable estimates put the guest count at 2,500 to 3,000, almost double last year. The invitation of Chairman Mike Chegini and other committee members on stage, and the thank-you message by Farivar and Movahed, were nice touches ending this year's celebration.
As our ancestors did in their prayers, we wish you, your loved ones and all the people of the world health, happiness, joy, love, peace and harmony in the new year.