By Fred Parvaneh
From coast to coast and in every major city in the US, Iranian-Americans celebrate the arrival of the Persian New Year, or Nowruz, which coincides with the first day of Spring.
This year’s festivities began with the 12th annual black-tie gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on March 8th. The sold-out event was organized by the Nowruz At the Met Committee – a group of Iranian-American volunteers dedicated to promoting the arts and culture of Iran.
Met Board member and organizer Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani welcomed an impressive roster of Iranian-American physicians, attorneys, investment bankers, technology entrepreneurs, and leaders in the arts who paid for tables costing from $12,000 to $30,000.
The Gala’s guests were treated to entertainment by comedian Omid Jalili and legendary Iranian singer Sattar, as well as a speech by a prestige keynote speaker: former President Bill Clinton.
The New York City Nowruz celebrations will continue on March 18th with a reception hosted by the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) at WeWork overlooking Bryant Park. Guests will enjoy an open bar, Persian music, Persian hors d’oeuvres and a traditional Haftseen. This year’s guest speaker is Hon. Odessa Kennedy (nee Khalatbari), an Iranian-born judge elected in 2016.
The climax of the Nowruz events in New York City will be the official Persian Parade 2018 on April 15th which will stretch over 12 blocks of Madison Avenue. The annual Parade includes numerous floats, dancers, musicians, marchers and dignitaries. The Persian Parade, also known as the Nowruz Parade, has gained in popularity in recent years, and now sees an audience of over 250,000 lining the streets of Mid-town Manhattan.
In the Washington, D.C. area the 4th Annual Nowruz Reception took place at the Carnegie Institution for Science on March 15th. The event was organized and sponsored by a coalition of 10 Iranian-American organizations in Washington, D.C. Keynote speakers Congressmen Keith Ellison, Jamie Raskini, and HeatlhEZ CEO and Founder, Nazie Eftekhari were the speakers.
On March 17th popular Iranian singer Nooshafarin will perform a Nowruz concert at Cherry Blossom Hall in Sterling, Virginia. Nooshafarin will be accompanied by her band and dancers and local DJs Raymond and Ani.
Los Angeles has the largest population of Iranian-Americans and their descendants. Nowruz is celebrated widely with numerous events all across the Los Angeles greater area.
Farhang Foundation, a non-profit that promotes Iranian art and culture, organizes an annual Nowruz banner contest. The winning design is then displayed on more than 700 large banners, which are hung prominently in most of Los Angeles’s major streets. This year’s winning design by Sara Ahrafizadeh is also hung in the streets of Beverly Hills.
Farhang Foundation had its all–day free annual festival at UCLA’s Dickson Courts on March 11th. The festivities featured costume parades, dancers, and a large Haftseen display. At the end of the festival, the first lady of Iranian folk music, Sima Bina, was scheduled to play, but due to the travel ban restrictions, Ms. Bina (a German citizen) had her visa revoked.. The concert had a last minute replacement in Mojgan Shajarian.
Sima Bina’s visa’s issues have now ben resolved and she is re-scheduled to perform on March 24th at University of California- Irvine.