With spring approaching, the Iranian Student Union held its biggest event, Norooz, the Persian New Year on March 8.
Around 350 people, students and non-students, gathered around the Haftsin table to celebrate Norooz.
“The maximum [of tickets sold] was supposed to be 325 tickets. We over-sold out,” Leili Zamini, president of Towson’s Iranian Student Union, said.
The ISU was founded in 2010 by TU alum Lilia Farmanara on the basis of diaspora, which are Iranians who have immigrated to the United States and other nations.
“Since the Iranian Revolution [that occurred] 30 years ago, the new government has been so openly hostile to the country’s history and culture, and with the help of the media today, Iranians have been misrepresented, feared by others and attained inaccurate stereotypes,” Zamini said. “And so, this diaspora is important because it is our duty, as Iranian-Americans, to fill this void and create an understanding of our culture in the United States.”
ISU represents a fraction of this diaspora and has been steadily gaining popularity within the Iranian community at Towson and among TU students.
Every year, ISU holds two major events: Mehregan and Norooz. Mehregan, the Persian Festival of autumn, is an ancient holiday that celebrates the light of autumn arriving in early October.
“Our most popular event is Norooz, the Persian New Year,” Zamini said.
The Norooz is celebrated on the first day of spring.
It symbolizes new life and beginnings by setting up the Haftsin table. “Haft” means seven, which is why there are seven items set on the table.
All seven items start with the letter “S:” Sib meaning apple, Sabzeh meaning green grass, Serkeh meaning vinegar, Samanu meaning a meal made out of wheat, Senjed meaning a special kind of berry, Sekke meaning coin, and Sir meaning garlic, which is sometimes substituted with Somagh, an Iranian spice.
“In ancient times, each of the times corresponded to one of the seven creations and the seven holy immortals protecting them. Without the Haftsin table, you really cannot tell what kind of event it is,” Zamini said.
Many members from the Towson community joined the ISU in celebrating the beginning of spring, listening to new generations of Iranian music and dancing in celebration of the Persian New Year.
“If we can get a few Towson students enlightened about our culture per event, then we have successfully done our job as part of this diaspora,” Zamini said.