Tied together in Iranian culture
Precision and movement are the basis of all belly-dancing shows, but Nina Amaya ups the ante by balancing sharp daggers and swords on each limb, all while still gyrating to the music.
The Baltimore belly dancing instructor performed her dance as a part of the Mehregan-Persian Festival of Autumn, sponsored by the Iranian Student Union Sept. 28.
The festival originates a pre-Islamic era when people would celebrate and pray for all the crops for the upcoming cold months.
However, in the contemporary age the practice of this tradition has changed. ISU Co-President Tina Mahmoudian said this event is more about Persian culture than religion.
“This event involves great food and dessert, dancing, sitting around talking, bonding, gossiping even,” Mahmoudian said. “Everyone just wants to be together. Togetherness is a big priority for Iranians. Families are a very important aspect and the celebration of our freedom.”
Mahmoudian said that the event is more than just a social gathering.
It is about spreading the awareness of the culture in a non-religious or political manner.
Junior Marjon Akhavan said the purpose of this event and group is to show the similarities of people across different customs and traditions.
Akhavan said ISU’s goal specifically is to demonstrate a new side of their culture, rather than the media’s image of the Iranian president or oil controversy.
The Iranian Student Union currently has about 20 active members.
But the Persian community in the Towson area is small and more members are always welcome to join, especially those who are not Iranian, ISU member Fatemeh Ahmadi said.
Over 300 people attended the event. Rob Sobhani, Md. independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, even attended the Mehregan event to show support, Ahmadi said.
Akhavan said it doesn’t matter whether you refer to yourself as Persian, Iranian or any other culture.
“Iranian’s are the only people who refer to themselves as Persian,” Akhavan said. “It means the exact same thing. Iranian is the correct term, but Persian is the social term. We just like the way Persian sounds. It’s much sexier.”