Monday, March 22, 2010

Fire Jumping NYC Style! Charshanbe Suri the week before Nowruz!

Chronicles of a Nowroz spent properly in NYC... Nowroz is New Year for Iranians, Afghans, Kurds, Azeris, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmans, and Uyghurs and it falls on the Spring Equinox.

Last few years have been very busy, too busy for even tradition! But this year, I was lucky and had a great community of friends to help make Nowroz memorable. Also, this year the UN officially recognized "International Day of Nowroz" spring and new year to 300+ million people. Here are some photos from the last two weeks of fire and fruit!


Charshambe Suri
(Tuesday the week before Nowroz)
March 16 @ Dias Y Flores Community Garden on 13th street. This was organized by the most generous and creative Aresh Javadi, community activist and gardener.


Sahar lighting the small pyre so we can jump over it.


And the bonfires were lit!


Organizer, Aresh Javadi, whirls and leaps over the fire!


Aresh Javadi nurturing the flames.

Since this was NYC there were two fire dancers!





The embers at the end of the event.

This tradition of fire jumping is not very common or familiar amongst Afghans or other Central Asians. I wasn't familiar with the tradition that spirits of lost relatives come to the bonfires. I get spooked easily, so I felt strangely nervous when I heard that! At today's Uzbek Nowruz party, an Indian NGO worker who spoke lovely Iranian Farsi, set up the small bonfire that the kids and a few of the brave jumped over.

The little song, however, I was able to pick up quickly "Zardeh man as tu, surkheyeh tu as man!" My yellow is yours and your red is mine! Yellow representing the pale and sickly -- the red representing the robust energy of a new year.

The event managed to make it on Al-Jazeera:



The funny thing is that the faces featured as Iranians in the diaspora, were not Iranians at all! The majority of people who showed up to the event, which was a lovely show of solidarity and support, were non-Iranians and non-Afghans. So it was very exciting to share the newness of a tradition that was almost new to me!

More Nowroozian material coming!

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