Ancient Norooz New Year Festivities Will Be Celebrated in Pasadena on Thursday

Iranian-Americans in the Pasadena area will be celebrating Norooz, the Iranian New Year, with an event at the Rose Room at Lake Avenue Church, this Thursday, March 10, 2016.

The event is now the 9th Annual Norooz celebration in Pasadena, which local resident Dr. Nazee Rofagha started in 2007.

Iranians consider Norooz, which literally means “a new day,” as the biggest celebration of the year. The exact second of the New Year is called “Saal Tahvil” and marks the exact astronomical start of Spring. Norooz has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Zoroastrian, the religion of ancient Persia before the advent of Islam.

Before the New Year, Iranians start cleaning their houses and buy new clothes. A major part of New Year rituals is setting the “Haft Seen,” a tabletop arrangement with seven specific items that correspond to one of the seven creations and the seven holy immortals protecting them.

All the seven items start with the letter “S” in the Iranian language – seeb (apple), sabze (green grass), serke (vinager), samanoo (a meal made out of wheat), senjed (a special kind of berry), sekke (coin), and seer (garlic). Today, Zoroastrians may not have all the seven “S,” items but they would choose seven kinds of seeds as a reminder that this is the seventh feast of creation, and their sprouting into new growth was a symbol of resurrection and eternal life to come.

The items are placed on a spread with mirrors and candles as a symbol of fire. Most of people placed a Islamic Quran on the spread, although nowadays, a great number of Iranians are placing Shahnameh, the Epic of Kings, by Ferdowsi, as an Iranian national book.

Dr. Rofagha, a Pasadena-based chiropractor, started the tradition in the city to celebrate and promote Iranian arts and culture to the non-Iranian community.

“It became my passion when I started my practice in Pasadena in 2003,” Rofagha recalls. “People were not that much familiar with Iranian culture, at least from my point of view and my circles of acquaintances and social groups, compared to other cities in greater Los Angeles. In addition some parts of Pasadena architecture and some old buildings reminded me of Tehran where I was born and grew up. So putting those together, I felt an urge to bring Norooz, the most ancient Iranian celebration, to Pasadena to introduce it to my non-Iranian friends.”

Since that time, Norooz has become a highly-anticipated cultural event in Pasadena, welcoming the non-Iranian community of the San Gabriel Valley and its neighboring cities about the history and origins of the Iranian New Year.

In 2013, Rofagha founded the non-profit Norooz Inc. to continue the tradition.

“It allows our attendees to see, feel, and taste what is called Iran in a different way than media might have presented to public,” says Rofagha. “Norooz in Pasadena has been able to bring many people from many ethnicities under the same roof to celebrate spring together, to not only learn about Iran, its customs, food, but also have fun and enjoy the food and music.”

Rofagha operates the Family Chiropractic Wellness Center in Pasadena where she offers complete wellness for people of all ages from children to adults to the elderly. In the Center, Rofagha strives to find the root of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms and welcomes unusual and challenging cases.

Norooz in Pasadena will start at 6:00 p.m. Thursday. For more information and to inquire about ticket prices, call (626) 583-9116.

Published on Pasadena Now