Campbell: Hundreds celebrate upcoming Persian New Year

Campbell: Hundreds celebrate upcoming Persian New Year...
mercurynews.com 06/03/2017 Culture

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Iranian community says it’s important to put culture on display in a time of tense political atmosphere.
By Eric Kurhi | ekurhi@bayareanewsgroup.com |
PUBLISHED: March 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm | UPDATED: March 6, 2017 at 3:16 am
Students Hannan Khatib, left, Tannaz Azimi, and Yasaman Fathi, right, members of the Beshkan Dance Academy South Bay, perform at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * * CAMPBELL — With troubling examples of violence against ethnic groups breaking out across the country, leaders of the South Bay’s thriving Iranian community said Sunday’s celebration of their coming new year was a particularly poignant exhibition of their culture.

Student Yasna, Khosraviani, 12, performs in the 7 Seen Play at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * * “This year I feel more obligated to get non-Iranian people involved, to talk with them and interact,” said Layla Monajemi, a parent at the event. “The more we speak about culture, the more we speak about real life and community, the more some of this political stuff can be seen for what it really is — just politics. Not about real people.”

Tannaz Azimi, of the Beshkan Dance Academy, performs a solo dance at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * * Organizers of the festival called Norouz — Persian for “new day” — said about 800 people packed into the Campbell Community Center for song and dance courtesy of the Farsi school at the center, the Persian Cultural Club and Beshkan Dance Academy. It kicked off with a “haft seen” demonstration by young students at the school age 3 to 7.

Nad Badii, of Tracey, looks at the 7 offerings table at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * * Kids were dressed as items included in haft seen, the centerpiece of the 13 day celebration — a symbol equally important as the Christmas tree. A small version decorates private homes, with a larger spread on display on Sunday — seven items representing virtues that spring will bring. That includes sprouting grass and flowers for rebirth, vinegar and garlic for patience, an apple for health, a gold coin for prosperity and so on, according to Lili Ghazian, who set up the haft seen for the event.

The Dehkhoda choir group performs at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * * “It’s important, culturally, to grow up with this,” said Ghazian, “you remember the sights, the smells and it stays in your memory.”
On stage, children portraying flowers, a gold coin and even a garlic bulb all took turns stepping forward to announce their presence and significance in the native Farsi tongue. They’d been practicing for six months, said Mehri Joon, an instructor at the school who served as emcee for the show, moving back and forth across the stage and pumping her arms to rouse the crowd.

Student Sophia Woodhouse, 6, left, who plays the garlic, and student Ava Pakravan, 5, right, who plays a flower, during students performance of the 7 Seen Play at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * *
Nima Pakravan, an Apple engineer who watched his daughter perform as a flower and a fish, said immigrants have played an important role in Silicon Valley.
“A lot of startups were created by Iranians,” he said. “An Iranian created eBay. Steve Jobs’s father was a Syrian immigrant, that led to the existence of Apple itself. Immigrants are in the fabric of what made Silicon Valley.”

South Bay students perform the 7 Seen Play at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * *
Aryo Nuri, who has been attending the event for years, said the shooting of a Sikh man near Seattle on Friday — the gunman said “go back to your own country” before opening fire — was one example of what a hostile cultural climate can lead to. Witnesses said a similar war cry of “get out of my country” was yelled by Adam Purinton when he opened fire on two Indian men in a restaurant near Kansas City last month. He told dispatchers that he believed the two were from Iran.

Tannaz Azimi, of the Beshkan Dance Academy, performs at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * * “Iranians have wrongly been put on a list,” Nuri said, referring to the recent executive order banning travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries. “We’re like everybody else. It’s not a good sign for anyone of any ethnic background to be put on a list like this.”
Eric Kurhi Eric Kurhi is a reporter for the Bay Area News Group based at The Mercury News. He covers Santa Clara County government and general assignment duties. An East Bay native, he has been editing and reporting at local newspapers since graduating from San Francisco State University in 1997.

The Maziyar Music choir group performs at the Norouz 2017 showcase in honor of the Persian New Year celebration at the Campbell Community Center in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

* * *
---Hundreds gathered in Campbell to celebrate Nowruz, the upcoming Persian New Year. ---
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