Lower Schoolers Celebrate the Norouz Holiday

Lower Schoolers Celebrate the Norouz Holiday

Lower School Chapel on March 19 was focused on the Persian New Year, Norouz. Also known as Nowruz, this holiday is celebrated on the spring equinox and celebrates the start of the new year in many Central Asian cultures.

Nicole Darabi (mother to Gia) welcomed the students to the event, and her husband Nima explained that Nowruz means “a new day” in Persian/Farsi and has been celebrated for 3,000 years. They encouraged everyone to visit the table in the Lower School commons that students had put together holding symbols of Nowruz (the table is called a “half-sin.”) They introduced Arvin A. ’28, who spoke about the science behind Nowruz—explaining how, during the spring equinox, the Earth’s axis and its orbit line up so that both hemispheres of the planet receive the same amount of sunlight.

Then, accompanied by Arvin playing the cello, a group of students introduced the seven traditional symbols of Nowruz:

  • Sabzeh (سبزه): sprouted wheat grass—the symbol of rebirth and growth (Maya N. ’36)
  • Samanu (سمنو): sweet wheat pudding —the symbol of power and strength (Gia D. ’36 )
  • Senjed (سنجد): sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree—the symbol of love (Ryan S. ’35 )
  • Somāq (سماق): crushed spice of berries—the symbol of sunrise (Lianna S. ’35 )
  • Serkeh (سرکه): vinegar—the symbol of age and patience (Kiana L. ’34)
  • Seeb (سیب): apple—the symbol of beauty (Danny S. ’33)
  • Seer (سیر): garlic —the symbol of health and medicine (Alizae A. ’32)

The children also presented other symbols typically presented on the Nowruz table:

  • eggs (تخم‌مرغ رنگی)—the symbol of fertility 
  • mirror (آینه)—the symbol of self-reflection (Elsa S. ’32)
  • candle (شمع)—the symbol of enlightenment
  • goldfish (ماهی قرمز)—the symbol of progress (Emma S. ’30)
  • book (کتاب)—the symbol of wisdom (Arvin A. ’28)

Alizae then shared other Nowruz traditions, including house cleaning (Persian: خانه تکانی‎/Khaane Tekaani, which literally means shaking the house), and buying new clothes to wear for the New Year. People also make short visits to family, friends, and neighbors, and exchange gifts in a tradition known as “Eydi.”

The guests were then treated to a lively circle dance by the group Persian American Moms, whose Luri/Persian music was accompanied by a daf player. The daf is an ancient musical instrument that is a large frame drum from the Middle East.

Fahti Self (Emma and Elsa’s mom) gave flowers to all of the dancers in appreciation. Nicole thanked everyone for coming, and let the children know they would all receive a special “squishy egg” as a gift (for Eydi) at the end of the day.

Parent and event coordinator Farnosh Ghasemi said, “The opportunity to participate and plan for this event sparked a fire within us, enriching our connection to our OES school community through the celebration of Nowruz. And when Chaplain Mel read a poem by Hafez, our souls soared with emotion, bringing us all together in a sacred space to welcome the arrival of spring. This experience was truly a testament to the power of coming together in celebration and unity.”