Iranians around the world are celebrating the first day of Farvardin (March 20) as the new year and have always adhered to this ancient ritual. The Iranians of Ottawa are no exception, that is why the Persian Art and Culture Society of Ottawa (PACSO), which is a non-profit organization, has always held a ceremony on this day since 2000 with the participation of Iranians.
The ceremony, which has always been welcomed by Iranians in the city, has been held only once with the financial help of the provincial government, and has always been sponsored by sponsors and the PACSO. This ceremony also features music, dance, singing and theater, and host guests with food and beverage.
The 2020 Nowruz celebration, which was previously scheduled to be held by the PACSO at the McNab Recreation Center in Ottawa, was canceled due to a coronavirus pandemic around the world. Homayoun Rastan, a board member of the PACSO in an interview with Titre online magazine said: “Not only we canceled Nowruz celebration before the announcement of the federal government to cancel the gatherings due to the outbreak of corona, but we also promoted this issue to show that the Iranian society, along with Canadian society, seeks to prevent the spread of the disease in Canada. Despite the coordination and even the reservation of two halls for the event, the ceremony was canceled and held virtually due to the health of our compatriots as well as solidarity with the Canadian community in the fight against the disease. The cancellation of the event was far more effective than holding it and in our interviews with the Canadian media, we informed the public why it was not held, to show that we have a common understanding of the situation.”
Nowruz is one of the oldest and most important Iranian celebrations. This event is the oldest and most original Iranian celebration, which is held on the first day of the solar New Year and coincides with the 1st of Farvardin and the 20th of March. Nowruz dates back to pre-Iranian times and before the Medes and Achaemenids. According to some historians, in 538 BC, Cyrus the Great declared Nowruz a national holiday, and on this day there were programs to promote soldiers, clean public places, and dust houses. The convicts were also pardoned on this day. Some researchers, such as Herzfeld, claim that the Persepolis was built for Nowruz. In ancient Iran, the month of Farvardin was given great importance and according to the Iranians, the first day of this month was the day of the resurrection of nature.
“At the moment, the PACSO public relations department is trying to translate and republish the information that the Canadian Ministry of Health publishes about Corona on its social media pages to inform Iranians about the disease and how to prevent the spread of the disease” Rastan said.
Reading poetry and meeting each other were some of the activities that took place in the online Nowruz celebrations held by PACSO this year and Iranians from other Canadian cities also joined the event. Homayoun Rastan, who considers this ceremony a good opportunity for non-Iranians to get acquainted with Iranian culture and history, said:
“PACSO has put invitations to ambassadors of other countries, especially ambassadors who are celebrating Nowruz in their country, on their agenda for the coming years. We are looking to establish a committee of ethnic groups and nations in PACSO so that everyone can participate in the ceremony.”
It is worth mentioning that the geography of Nowruz is not limited to Iran, and various nations hold this ceremony every year. Nowruz in Iran and Afghanistan is the beginning of the new year and is official holiday in some other countries, including Tajikistan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Syria, Iraq, Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Albania, China, Turkey, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan and Uzbekistan and people celebrate on this day.