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Celebrating Nowruz at World Cultural Heritage Sites


T.j-wchv-2During the last decade, Iranians have become gradually more aware of pre-Islamic period of their history despite the policy of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) tainting that period with obscurity and misleading messages. The result has been the renewed public interest in ancient intangible cultural heritage on the one hand, and a ever-increasing internal tourism and visitors to the ancient Persian sites.

One of the main occasions in this respect is the Iranian New Year, known as Nowruz (or the New Day) that begins at spring equinox. Over the past decade, the number of visitors to sites such as Pasargad and Perspolis has increased ten-fold. While the IRI cultural authorities have not been able to erase the physical reminiscences of the past due to the efforts of Iranians outside the country and the pressure of the international organizations, they have become more and more restrictive against such visits, especially during the Nowruz holidays.

This year the Pasargad site was totally closed to the hundreds of visitors who had come from many parts of the country. They had come to be present around the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great, when the equinox moment arrived and the Iranian New Year began

Cyrus the Great is now recognized as the father of Nation by many Iranians.

As the equinox was to arrive late at night this year, all the lights in the Pasargad area were switched off and the site was totally in darkness. From the early morning, the guards had walked amongst the visitors and had confiscated cameras. Nevertheless, people stayed right behind the fences, singing and chanting. In some instances, there were signs of anger but there was an overall mood of happiness and celebration in the gathering that was shaped in such a surreal setting.  In fact, it has been reported by many news outlets that many historical heritage sites had record number of visitors in the first few days of the New Year and Perspolis reportedly had the highest number of visitors. 

Persepolis which literary means the “City of Persians” was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire.  Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of city of Shiraz in the Fars Province in Iran.


Richard Frye, Harvard Professor of Iranian Studies, Has Passed Away


Richard FryeProfessor Richard Nelson Frye was Professor of Iranian Studies Emeritus at Harvard. He established the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern studies and taught at Harvard from 1948 to 1990, though his impact lingered even after his formal retirement ended.  Many appropriately referred to him as “the Dean of the World’s Iranists”.

Professor Frye was the author of more than twenty books and over 150 articles about the ancient Iranian culture. His work covered the spectrum of Iranian studies and the history of Iran and related cultures across the centuries, with  the relevant sources  and documents in multiple living and extinct languages ranging from Avestan and Old Persian to Sogdian, to present modern Iranian languages.  Early in his career, the editor and compiler of the monumental, encyclopedic Persian dictionary, Dehkhoda, gave him the honorific Irandoost, or Iranophile, which has since adorned the doorway to his office at Harvard.

He received his PhD in history and philology from Harvard in 1946, with his thesis on Narshakhi’s History of Bokhara.  He joined the Harvard faculty in 1948 and later became Agha Khan Professor of Iranian Studies.  Later, he founded the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at Harvard.  His books and articles on Iranian history and culture have endured as references on the subject. Some notable titles include Iran (1953), Persia (1968), The Heritage of Persia (1963), The Golden Age of Persia (1975),  History of Ancient Iran (1984), The Heritage of Central Asia (1996), Greater Iran (memoirs, 2005), and History of Bukhara (2007).

He passed away at the age of 94 on March 27th, 2014.

Nowruz Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO


Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the International Day of Nowruz, 21 March 2014

nowruz_unescoCelebrated every year by millions of people from Western, Central and South Asia, the Balkans and other regions across the world, Nowruz bears a message of respect, mutual understanding and peace to all women and men.
Inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Nowruz is a moment to celebrate the living traditions that provide meaning to reality and shape it for the good of all, by the making the most of humanity’s cultural diversity and by building new bridges of dialogue.

Nowruz reminds us of the power of culture and heritage as a force driving and enabling sustainable development and as a wellspring of knowledge and creativity. At a time when all societies are seeking new sources of dynamism, cultural heritage holds unique resources to craft solutions to old and new challenges in ways that are meaningful and inclusive. This is UNESCO’s message today, when countries are accelerating to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and the international community is shaping a new global sustainable development agenda to follow.

As an age-old tradition with strong cultural and natural components, Nowruz is a time for rejoicing with family, friends and community. It is also a celebration of renewal and harmony with nature. This message resonates powerfully across the world today, when many societies are undergoing deep transformation and the planet faces new pressures.

On this day of Nowruz, let us walk forward together, guided by the spirit of friendship, respect and mutual understanding. This is the strongest foundation on which to address global challenges, drawing on solidarity and understanding between all peoples.

Happy Nowruz to all!

Iranian Cultural Show 2014



Join Child Foundation for the Iranian Cultural Show presented by the UCLA Iranian Student Group!

The event is Thursday April 3rd and Friday April 4th at the UCLA Freud Playhouse.

7 pm to 10 pm


“Join us at our event to celebrate the rich Iranian culture and enjoy a very special performance by our special guest, Sharzad Sepanlou! This is the night to take joy in Iranian poetry, modern and tradtional music and dances, and a chance to learn about Iran’s culture and it’s transformation throughout history.”

Happy Nowruz, Dear Friends and Supporters


Dear Friends and Supporters,

haftsin-2As the beginning of spring is fast approaching we once again reiterate our commitment to continue our efforts on behalf of preservation of World National Heritage.  We believe that it is not only our duty to preserve and restore World Heritage for future generations, but we must inform and actively seek support for those sites in countries which have been ignored and forgotten because of ongoing conflict, war, and discrimination.  As our friends and supporters, you have stood by us, supported us and we thank you.  It is only through our collective work that we can accomplish what we must do so that future generations know about the beautiful man-made sites as well as natural sites of our beautiful planet Earth.  Spring once again reminds us of that.  In addition, we would like to wish you a happy and joyful Nowruz, celebration of the beginning of the Persian New Year.  Nowruz coincides with the beginning of spring (March 21st), a day that has been recognized on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2009.

Happy Nowruz and Happy Spring.

Nowruz Award – Iranian Personality of the Year for Art & Culture


aram-2Ms. Aram Bayat

The personality of the year 2014, for the category of “Art & Culture”

Aram bayat, a distinguished teacher, choreographer and dancer, has been recognized as the personality of the year in the category of of art and culture, due to her:

–  Efforts to preserve the Iranian artistic dances for more than two decades

–  Familiarizing the Iranian children with their cultural heritage in the art of dancing

–  Working creatively on Iranian dances with the goal of updating them to recognized international standards

–  Setting up the first Iranian folk dance school immediately after the time when dancing in public was banned in Iran

–  Setting up the first Iranian dance group, called Khorshid-Khanum, in Canada

–  Providing dance education for hundreds of Iranian and non-Iranian children and teaching them about this banned art by the Islamic republic of Iran




Aram Bayat


Aram Bayat graduated from the Institution of Iranian National and Folkloric Dance in Iran, and professional Photography in Dawson College, Montreal, Canada. She continued her studies in the Digital Imaging and Sound program at Concordia University.

 Aram’s artistic career started as a dancer and choreographer for the Ministry of Art and Culture in Tehran, Iran. After the Revolution in 1979, due to the fact that dance was banned in Iran, She forced to leave Iran, and was finally established in Montreal 1988. This experience that changed her life also deeply effect her career as choreographer & guided her to find a new vision of Dance. With this experiences & realized the importance of developing her knowledge of Dance She discovered a new way of self-expression through Dancing. Over the last 25 years in Canada, she has worked as a Choreographer & Dance Instructor, and she founded Khorshid Khanoom (ms.sun) Dance Company in 1995 in Montreal.

In all these years, along with teaching, choreographing and stage performance, she welcomed any activity that contributes to the further introducing Iranian dance and its special conditions after Islamic revolution in Iran, attending seminars, Speaking, interviewing, writing articles, and participating documentaries about Iranian dance: La classe d’Aram by Jeroen Deraeve and Sun Dance forbidden by Lila Ghobady which have been screened in dozens of cities around the world. Also numerous research in Persian diverse and colorful culture especially those who had get less attention.

For more than quarter of century through a multitude of performances, productions, she has continued to work, develop and exercise artistic voices while living outside the boundaries of her homeland. Although for the most part of her creation she has been lived in the west her work utilizes formal contemporary art-making strategies while maintaining strong connections with Eastern tradition. The subject matter of her work covers a variety of issues ranging from cultural identity to personal explorations of gender, and social/ political commentary.

Along with dozens of short dances which have create for different occasions and performed br Khoeshid Khanoom Dance group , She also create numerous independent narrative dances witch performed on various stages in Canada. U. S. and Europe.

Major Choreographies (Independent shows):

Parvaz (Fly)- 1990

Movement, Rhythm, Color and Light- 1993

Maral’s Fairy Tail (ghesaye Maral)- 1998

Blue Nostalgia (Roya-ye-Termeh-Aabi)- 1999

Of Love Peace and Joy- 2003

Stone, Ashes& Hasrat (unfulfilled disaier)- 2005

B.B.Baff (A type of carpet made by the Bakhtiari people of Iran)- 2007

Dance along the Silk Road- 2010

Aram-4 aram-8 aram-5 aram-7 Dance-Daff Group-1 Dance-208207_4413364888956_1612136484_n Dance-BB Baf Montreal 1 Dance-Rochester TUR- 4


Nowruz Award – Personality of the Year for Natural Heritage


akhani6Dr. Hossein Akhani

The personality of the year 2014, for the category of “Environmental and Natural Heritage”

Professor H. Akhani, a plant biologist, an ecologist and expert in the field of environment and biogeography, has been recognized as the personality of the year in the category of Environmental and Natural Heritage, due to his:

 – Tireless efforts for registering and introducing the Iranian flora and geobotany of Iranian plateau

–  Collecting and gathering thousands of herbarium specimens of the many countries including Iran and, especially those of Golestan National Park

–  Founding and curating the herbarium of the Natural History Museum of Iran

–  Publishing many scientific articles on Iranian flora and plant diversity, as well as two major books on Golestan National Park

–   Teaching at university and expanding the education of environmental experts

–  Giving cautionary notices to the authorities and environmental activists




Dr. Hossein Akhani


Dr. Hossein Akhani is Professor and Head of Department of Plant Sciences at the School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran.

Professor Akhani’s research activities include: Flora and geobotany of Iran and other South West Asian countries, Ecology and biogeography of halophytes, Ecological distribution and phylogeny of plants and conservation and biodiversity. He has worked on flora and vegetation of Golestan National Park in North Eastern Iran and has collected 24,000 herbarium specimens from Iran, Germany, Italy, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Jordan, France, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA, Russia and Greece.

Professor Akhani received his B.Sc. in Plant Biology at the Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, M.Sc. studies in Plant Biology at the University of Tehran, and his doctorate degree in Botany from Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, Germany by an award of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He has been the Founder and curator of herbarium of the Natural History Museum of Iran, has been contributed to the International Project of Flora Iranica (ed. K. H. Rechinger), and has been awarded Distiguished Research Project of the University of Tehran. Dr. Akhani has also been awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Research Scholarship to work in Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Germany, and has been a visiting research fellow at the Royal Botanical Gardens,  Kew in the United Kingdom.

Professor Akhani has had over 85 published scientific peered review articles and papers in 44 scientific journals and four book series, and two books on flora and plant biodiversity of Golestan National Park and has written other articles about environmental problems in various Iranian newspapers and websites. He has also been interviewed by Iranian national TV channels and radio stations.



2014 Persian New Year Festival & Fire Jumping | Berkeley



Jump over a bonfire (or watch others do it) in the ritual of “Chahr-Shanbeh Souri” as the Persian Center celebrates Nowruz, or Persian New Year to say goodbye to the darkness of winter and welcome the lightness of spring.


2014 Persian New Year Festival & Fire Jumping
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 | 6-10PM
Persian Center, 2029 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA


Inside the Persian Center, a traditional altar holds green grass, live goldfish, food and other items representative of spring called the “haftseen” or seven ‘s’s as each item on the table begins with the letter ‘s’.


Persian music, food, and craft vendors, cultural organizations, and children’s activities add to the nighttime experience. This is a free, family-friendly, non-alcoholic event held outdoors at night, rain or shine.


A Persian ritual passed down since ancient Zoroastrian times, the Persian New Year Festival, called Chahar-Shanbeh Souri, literally means ‘Eve of Wednesday” because the festival is always held on the last Tuesday of winter, just before the Vernal Equinox or first moment of spring.Chahar-Shanbe_Suri_1-550x350

Chahar Shanbeh Souri, The Iranian Fire Jumping Festival


4shanbe souri.3Last  Wednesday of the Iranian year (Nowruz) know as Chahar Shanbeh Souri, is celebrated in the evening of the last Tuesday of each year, Iranians celebrate a fire festival with its roots in the ancient customs and history of the country.

Jumping over a bonfire is the ritual of “Chahr-Shanbeh Souri” during the Persian celebration of  Nowruz, or the Persian New Year.  It signifies a time to say goodbye to the darkness of winter and welcome to the lightness of spring.

Bonfires are lit to “keep the sun alive” until early morning. The celebration usually starts in the evening, with people making bonfires in the streets and jumping over them singing “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man”. The literal translation is, my yellow is yours, your red is mine. This is a purification rite. Loosely translated, this means you want the fire to take your pallor, sickness, and problems and in turn give you redness, warmth, and energy.