Students celebrate Iranian culture and the new year
Every year, nearly four months after the ball drops in New York City, another New Year celebration occurs. To help to ring in the Iranian New Year, referred to as “Nowruz” in Persian, the University’s Persian Cultural Society holds Iran Day to commemorate the spring equinox holiday — which fell this year on March 20, at 12:57 p.m. The festivities are complete with Iranian dances, poetry and music.
“The best way I could put it is that it’s like Christmas and the New Year,” said PCS treasurer Melika Zarei, a third-year Commerce student. “Not only do you celebrate the New Year but you also get gifts and you’re with family. Usually with us, you’ll have [about] 20 family members around you and that’s nice.”
PCS Cultural Chair Saba Chinian, a second-year College student, became involved in the organization to meet new people who share her interest in Persian culture. She helped to make sure the event was culturally cohesive and authentic.
“In Iran, they have a month off of school and work [to celebrate], so it’s a really a big deal,” Chinian said. “We do this every year as a way to not only celebrate the Iranian New Year but also to explain what it is and represent it as clearly as we can.”
The main attraction during Iran Day is the dances. Extensive rehearsals and planning go into the female-only and co-ed performances.
Zarei helps choreograph the dance in addition to working with event funding.
“I think my favorite part is the dances,” Zarei said. “The girls’ dance is a mix of the modern dance in Iran [while] the co-ed dance is sensual. It’s very slow and not very provocative, but it’s fun. That one’s a little bit more traditional. “
Though the Iranian population at the University is small, it has grown and developed a more significant presence in recent years.
“We would always welcome more participants but especially this year, it’s kind of unexpected how many people we’ve had come out to our events,” Chinian said. “We are a relatively small group on Grounds because there just aren’t as many Iranians as we’d like at U.Va., but in terms of non-Iranian participation, [it] has been through the roof.”