Persians Pour onto Madison Ave. to Celebrate Nowruz

18 Apr

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The warm spring air was inviting many people to come out and bask in the sunlight on a cloudless picture perfect day. If you happened to stroll on Madison Ave. from 38th to 26th Sts. this past Sunday you would have seen one of the most colorful parades in the city this year. The Persian Parade kicked off around noon to the applaud of thousands of revelers lining the parade route waiting to see traditional costume and dance. They were not disappointed in the least. Parade organizers, NY Persian Parade Foundation, use the parade to celebrate Nowruz, an ancient Persian holiday to welcome Spring, thawing of winter. It’s a traditional symbol of hope, rebirth and a time to look forward with family and friends. One thing I admire about this parade is all the time and effort it takes to transform a boring old float into a garden of  color and awe. Kids of all ages would be impressed with how monuments and architectural history can be built onto a float as a way of unifying those Persians in the US with those back home. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. After parade VIPs and dignitaries made their way down the parade route, the fun really began with the first group of traditional dancers and of course the ever playful representation of Haji Firuz.

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The tradition of handing out money to small children was kept alive by a man dressed like old man winter. Persians are very spiritual people and boast about being one of the original declarers of human rights which modern Western society aspire to emulate. Devout followers of the Zoroastrian way of life marched in the parade with their blue robes. I didn’t see the Rumi followers as in previous years. There was more traditional dancers this year and one of the more impressive groups came from the Boston area. The Aftab Dancers really got the crowd worked up. Soon to follow was a large group of Central Asian Vatans with traditional attire and typical musical instruments. There was another group with traditional dancers while another group made their first visit to the parade..the Nomad dancers. They were really good. A parade favorite is the traditional wrestlers, Zoorkhaneh. They had their float with a drummer singing a song the crowd sang along with while the main wrestler gave instructions to his student wrestlers. Insanity it was not but it was still fun to watch. They were followed by a group of traditional dancers dressed in black that got the crowd moving towards Madison Square Park where there was more food and festivities celebrating Persian pride and culture.

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Happy Nawruz….Come Join Us Next Year.

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