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March 25th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
Iranian New Year Celebrations at All Saints Church Draw Large Crowd
Nazee Rofagha, D.C. is a local woman, a visionary who hopes to bridge the geographic gap. She had the foresight three years ago, for local people with ties to Iran and those who are interested in the culture of Persian people as well as its history, to get together while celebrating the New Year, or vernal equinox.
Each Spring, Dr. Rofagha celebrates the Iranian New Year, or Narooz, at a location in Pasadena. The event is always peppered with traditional dance, music, food and interesting speakers.
This year was no exception. As Mayor Bill Bogaard proclaimed in the beginning of the program that “Narooz is now a Pasadena Tradition.”
The two key speakers this year were renowned British Archeologist Dr. David Stronach and JPL Astronomer Trina Ray who discussed her view of the Vernal Equinox.
Stronach held the audience’s attention with a slide show and short film of some of his work in Iran in search of Cyrus.
Cyrus was the first Achaemenian Emperor of Persia, who issued a decree on his aims and policies, later hailed as his charter of the rights of nations. Inscribed on a clay cylinder, this is known to be the first declaration of Human Rights, and is now kept at the British Museum. A replica of this is also at the United Nations in New York.
Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians. Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.
Upon his victory over the Medes, he founded a government for his new kingdom, incorporating both Median and Persian nobles as civilian officials. The conquest of Asia Minor completed, he led his armies to the eastern frontiers. Hyrcania and Parthia were already part of the Median Kingdom. Further east, he conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Margiana and Bactria. After crossing the Oxus, he reached the Jaxartes, where he built fortified towns with the object of defending the farthest frontier of his kingdom against nomadic tribes of Central Asia.
As people mingled before the official program, a woman dressed in traditional Iranian robes served tea as she sat in the middle of a table elaborated decorated with sterling silver tea service and plates of traditional cooks and sweets. As she served tea to visiting dignitaries such as Carol Lui and Anthony Portantino, guests grazed on a selection of Persian foods .
After the guest speakers, Narooz vistors were treated to a dance and music performance by Robyn Friend accompanied by Neil Siegel and Rowan Storm.
The concept behind this celebration is to bring closer the diverse cultures of the United States and Iran and ultimately promote peace with all mankind by better understanding each other.
Dr. Nazee Rofagha has been organizing this celebration three years now in Pasadena and hopes to expand on the celebration every spring.
By Terry Miller