5,000 Celebrate Iranian New Year

To celebrate Iranian New Year and to avoid the bad luck that legend says may befall those who stay at home on the 13th day of spring, thousands of Iranian Americans gathered in Chatsworth Park South on Sunday.

For the most part, they seemed to evade misfortune, unless they needed to use the restroom or find their cars. The 5,000 revelers quickly filled the 50 parking spaces at the park and jumbled cars together on roadsides and even sidewalks. The park's only two restrooms had lines all day long.

Los Angeles police officers, who closed off traffic two blocks from the park's entrance, complained that they could have better prepared for the crowd if organizers had obtained permits for the party.

Police said they believe a local Farsi-language station promoted the event, but no one claimed responsibility for the gathering. A similar event took place at Mason Regional Park in Irvine.

The large crowds came together without any central organization, said Asfar Naranghi, who shared a picnic of fresh fruit and grilled chicken with her family.

"It's a 3,000-year-old tradition," Naranghi said. "People just know to go to the park. No one has to tell us."

LAPD Devonshire Division Sgt. John Armour said despite poor preparation, the event "was fairly orderly without any big problems."

The festivities on Sunday marked the 14th day of No Rouz, an Iranian term for New Day. The day in the park festivities normally is celebrated on the 13th day of the new year--which was Saturday--but was observed this year on Sunday to allow more people to attend without missing a day of work.

Revelers danced in a circle to traditional Iranian music. Young, single women sat on the lawn, tying blades of grass into knots. According to tradition, if the knot comes untied, the woman would get married within the year.

"It doesn't matter really if you get married," said Naranghi, whose blades of grass slipped apart. "It just matters that you see your family and have a good time."

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