Day and Night
Celebrate Norooz, Iranian New Year, next week at Scottish Rite Cathedral
By Carl Kozlowski 03/06/2014
Amid all the news headlines in which the current Iranian government is often regarded as a villain on the world stage, the annual Norooz Pasadena celebration is a great way to step back and remember that the Middle Eastern nation is also home to a still vibrant ancient history and culture. Mixing tasty food with exotic teas, a slideshow of Iranian landmarks, an Aladdin rug and fine art exhibition and an array of music and dance, the three-hour extravaganza Thursday, March 13, offers plenty for anyone in the community to learn from and enjoy.
The free event will be hosted by master of ceremonies Nat Nehdar, chair of the Pasadena Human Relations Commission, and feature a proclamation by Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard. In fact, the city has been a strong supporter of the annual event from its beginnings in 2007.
“I’ve been organizing Norooz in Pasadena since 2007 and the mission is to introduce ancient Iranian culture to our non-Iranian friends in Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley,” explains Dr. Nazee Rofagha, a chiropractor who has been a longtime resident of Pasadena. “In the first year, nobody even knew where I was from, so I had to educate them.”
Rofagha explains that the significance of Norooz lies in the fact that it is held at the beginning of spring, during the start of the vernal equinox. She notes that for more than 3,000 years it has been celebrated as “the day that day and night are equal at night, and astronomically it’s very important.”
“You are to experience renewal on Norooz — you start new goals, you forgive and forget and pay attention to your family members more,” says Rofagha. “It’s especially also about reuniting the family.”
Next Thursday’s event will kick off with a reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. featuring a traditional Persian teahouse, and savory and sweet Mediterranean appetizers while visitors examine the slideshow and rug and art exhibitions. Then, Nehdar takes the stage with Mayor Bogaard at 7 p.m., leading the way through keynote speaker Dr. Ezat Parnia, president of Pacific Oaks College and performances by Erfan Nazemzadeh, Flamenco guitarist Amir Mafakher and dances by the Djanbazaian Dance Academy, leading to closing remarks by Nehdar.
Up to 400 people attend this event, “and we wind up having to watch numbers because we wind up near the capacity at the Scottish Rite Temple,” says Rofagha. “We bring arts, culture, food, entertainment, music, dance, antiques, artworks — anything that has to do with bringing the art and culture together, anything to do with culture — and we offer it that day for people to attend for free.”
Norooz Pasadena takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. next Thursday at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 150 N. Madison Ave., Pasadena. Admission is free. Visit noroozpasadena.org for more information.