>Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Nowruz, the celebration of the Persian New Year. The word Nowruz means “new day” and the holiday is observed annually in a number of countries, including Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbajian and Tajikistan.  

Persians living abroad such as U.S. attend a Nowruz party to celebrate the season of hope and renewal.  I was invited to a my first Nowruz celebration at the Rome Ballroom of UConn. campus by a good Iranian friend, Bernadette.  The party started slowly with the welcoming address from the Iranian Association of UConn., followed by a brief poetry reading and a classical Persian music performance on the acoustic guitar.

But when the DJ played the Persian music, it’s the women (and kids) that came onto the dance floor first.  The Persian dance itself is highly individualistic and heavily relies on solo improvisation.  And it is totally normal for women to dance with women.  In fact, it wasn’t until much later and the lights dimmed that the men joined the floor in a group based ensemble setting.  And well into the night, the dance floor resembled one big dance circle with everyone dancing together.

I had such a great time, completely immersing myself in the Nowruz celebration; eating delicious Persian pastries, taking photos and whirling away Persian-style.  Although, it took me by a huge surprise when I was approached by several Persians throughout the night and spoken to in Farsi.  Perhaps it was my comfortableness with the surrounding that led them to believe I was one of them.  Now that I think about it … it must have been my dancing. 

Here’s a slide show of the photos and videos I captured during the party. 
It was really difficult to divide myself between photographing and dancing. 
I wished I could do both at the same time.

Haft-sin, a traditional Nowruz table set up at the party. Each item on the table has a symbolic meaning.
Lit candles are for enlightenment and happiness.
Holy book.
Tulips represent Spring.
Painted eggs are the symbol of fertility.
Dried fruit of the lotus tree symbolizes love.
Bernadette with her parents.
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