New Year celebrations are still going in Newcastle.
On Sunday 14 March, the Iranian Community will come together in Civic Park to celebrate Persian New Year.
Called ‘Nowruz’ in Farsi (Iran’s national language), the title is a compound word that translates to ‘new day’.
The event marks the first day of spring in Iran and is celebrated by more than 100 million people worldwide.
President of the Australian Iranian Community of Newcastle, Dr Mojgan Habibi, explained that Nowruz has a 3,000-year history that symbolizes hope and resilience.
She adds for Iranians the event is “similar to Christmas”.
“A lot of religious people don’t celebrate it, it’s more cultural, and historical,” Dr Habibi said.
“Like gingerbread for Westerners, we make chickpea and rice cookies, especially for the new year and offer it to everyone.
“Preparation for the new year is really important for us, we have to clean up the house beforehand, and you must do it with all of the family [together].
“For 13 days after Nowruz, we go and visit our relatives and friends.
“During these 13 days, we come again to nature and celebrate to have good luck for the rest of the year.”
One of the most prominent symbols of Nowruz is the ‘Haft-Sin’ table, which Dr Habibi explained was a “special setting” containing seven items reflective of life and nature.
She added the “joyful” event would feature a plethora of activities, including 25 stalls, food, music, special calligraphy, and dance workshops.
“It will be a good opportunity for [Australians] to come and see Iranian culture – the traditional clothing, and try food like kabobs and different sweets like baklava,” she said.
The event has been organised by the Australian Iranian Community of Newcastle, a not-for-profit dedicated to bringing the city’s Iranian population together.
Dr Habibi started the organisation in 2015 after she moved from Melbourne.
She said the past year has been “really tough” for Newcastle’s Iranians and the Nowruz celebrations would be a special day for the community.
“In Newcastle, we have a lot of [Iranian] students, and they couldn’t just return home,” she said.
“It was really hard for them to be alone, and we tried to support them – [alongside] all the local Iranian people – and take care of them.”
Nowruz 2021 kicks off at Civic Park from 12pm on Sunday 14 March.