Our Persian community celebrates Nowruz New Year

RYDE’S large Persian community celebrates its New Year next Monday March 20 and Tuesday March 21.

Called Nowruz the New Year event is an Ancient Persian celebration of life, rejuvenation, light, joy, spring, abundance, peace as well as cultural awareness.

Russell Sajadi is the Manager of the Bahar Persian Supermarket in Church Street, Top Ryde and said Nowruz is one of the most ancient New Year events still celebrated today.

“Nowruz at the time of the vernal spring equinox, or beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, is the first day of the New Year by the Persian solar calendar which is widely celebrated for up to two weeks,” he said.

“Nowruz has been celebrated by most of the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia such as; the Sumerians, Babylonians, Elamites, Kurds and Iranians for at least 3000 years.

“Nowruz is deeply rooted in the Zoroastrian tradition’s belief system and Persian mythology holds that Nowruz existed when history did not.”

Persian New Year is a Zoroastrian tradition that requires Persians to ritually clean every spot of their home before Nowruz and set up their Haftsin table with a mirror to reflect purity, candles to reflect fire, goldfish to reflect creation, eggs to reflect purity and rose water to represent the sea and rivers.

“Our celebrations conclude on ÔSizdeh Bedar’ which is an outdoor festivity spanning from dawn to dusk, when every individual reaffirms respects and commits to their faith through good deeds,” Mr Sajadi said.

“Nowruz means that a new day has begun, signaling the beginning of spring and the new year,” Mr Sajadi said.

“It is a traditional Zoroastrian festival that has been celebrated for thousands of years in Persia and by the thousands of Persians in North West Sydney, with our community epicentre in Ryde.

“As our most important national holiday, a Persian-Australian family starts with a tradition called Khooneh Tekouni, which literally means Shaking the House.

“We clean every spot of their home before the beginning of the new year.”

He said a popular tradition was giving goldfish as gifts before they were released into rivers and streams at the end of Nowruz.

“The elements of water and fire are very important in Zoroastrian tradition and Persian tables, called Haft Sin, will have a goldfish bowl enclosed in wheatgrass as well as candles.”

The wheatgrass is called Sabzeh and is a symbol of rebirth.

Alongside the wheatgrass is an apple (Sib) which is a symbol of health and beauty as well as garlic (Sir) which symbolises medicine.

The traditional Persian table also has vinegar (Serkeh) to symbolise age and wisdom alongside Sumac to represent sunrise; silver berry (Senjed) to symbolise love and the sweet pudding Samanu to symbolise prosperity.

“Our faith teaches good thoughts, good words and good actions,” Mr Sajadi said.

“Nowruz is also a time to reflect on these values.”

Traditional Persian homes also display the Australian flag, the pre-revolutionary flag of Iran (with a lion and a sun) and a mirror.

“The mirror represents the reflection of a pure heart and purity is important to our faith which teaches that people are born pure and enlightened and that it is possible for everyone to become enlightened,” he said.

“Our traditional table also displays the Shahnameh, a book of kings compiled 900 years ago which tells the story of Persia in poetry.

“Here in Ryde we keep these ancient traditions alive.

“We also celebrate Easter and Christmas and there is a Persian Santa Claus called Uncle Nowruz who gives gifts and brings good luck.”

Nowruz celebrations last for 12 days although the 13th day is regarded as an unlucky day to work.

“This day is day is called Sizdah Bedar and it is the day we relax and have picnics in the park and release the goldfish,” he said.

The Zoroastrian religion is the faith of the ancient Persians and is widely acknowledged as the first faith to have a belief in one wise, merciful and omnipotent God called ‘Ahura Mazda’ in Persian.

His name roughly translates as the ‘Be-ing Mind’, although it can also mean Wise Lord.

“Some people drive a Japanese made Mazda car, unaware that it is actually named after Ahura Mazda,” Mr Sajadi said.

In the Zoroastrian religion, fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom of Ahura Mazda is gained and that fire has its origins in water.

“Unlike later faiths, we believe that creation created itself,” he said.

Proud of our Ancient traditions: Top Ryde’s Bahar Persian Supermarket Manager Russell Sajadi is pictured at the Hafsin table.

Uncle Nowruz – often described as the Persian Santa Claus – thrills Persian speaking children at a recent cultural event in Ryde. TWT on-the-spot PHOTOS.

Celebrate Nowruz with an authentic Persian feast

THE HONEY Persian Restaurant in Parramatta invites readers of The Weekly Times to celebrate Persian New Year with a fabulous, authentic Persian feast.

Owner and Manager Haydar Khalighi said he would be honoured to host families, corporate functions and romantic couples this week as the Persian community celebrates the annual Nowruz festival.

“I have integrated all the beautiful things from Persia, my country of origin, and put them together to create the Honey Persian Restaurant, which I’m proud of,” Mr Khalighi said.

“We have beautiful art and beautiful music but most importantly of all is that all the quality mealswe serve and the service itself comes from the heart.

“I am particularly delighted to be able to introduce Australians to the delights of our cuisine because I’ve had a good life here in Australia and want to give back to Australia from my heart as well.”

The Honey Restaurant has a wide selection of meals with several signature dishes to select from.

The Weekly Times choice is the lamb based Kachk-e-Bademgan (pictured); The Zereskh Pol made with saffron rice and chicken topped with berries and dried pomegranates; and the Ghormeh Saba created with rice, vegetable stew, lamb, dried limes and red beans.

“We would particularly like to introduce our famous Honey Special to new guests which has been created with pieces of lamb, filleted chicken, rice, chilli, yoghurt, pickles and other special ingredients.”

Tantilising side dishes include Hommus, Baba Ghanoush and the exotic Most O Khiar which features yoghurt with sun dried mint rose petals and fesh cucumber.

“We also serve Persian tea and Turkish black coffee,” Mr Khalighi said.

Many of the Honey Persian Restaurant’s dishes are from Persian cities such as Tehran, Shiraz and Esfohan.

“Persian meals also have influences from Turkey, Pakistan and Arabic speaking countries,” Mr Khalighi said.

Mr Khalighi is fluent in Persian, English, Arabic and Turkish and looks forward to welcoming new guests.

Bookings can be made on 9893 7686 and there is a five floor carpark next door to the restaurant, which is located within Horwood Place, Parramatta.