For the first time in two years, the Persian-speaking community in Victoria is celebrating Nowruz together again.
With the easing of restrictions, family and friends can gather in-person and usher in the first day of Spring which will take place on Sunday.
Noushin Javanmard, who co-owns Anar Food & Grocery, a Persian restaurant supermarket in Saanich, has been looking forward to this day.
She said she takes pride in her culture.
Despite being more than 10,000 kilometres from her homeland of Iran, she keeps her traditions alive, setting up a haft-seen table at her store annually.
“I love my history. Because I love my culture. It’s very important my culture at home,” said Javanmard.
Nowruz, which translates to “new day,” is widely celebrated on the day of the spring equinox.
It marks the beginning of the new year on the Persian calendar by more than 300 million people all around the world.
It’s an ancient holiday that dates back for more than 3,000 years and is observed in The Balkans, Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia and other regions.
At Anar Food & Grocery, Javanmard sells many goodies needed to celebrate the holiday, including sweets, wheatgrass, called sabzi, hyacinth flowers called sonbol — all of which are items that are used to make the haft-seen table, a display of seven symbolic items that represents something positive for the coming year.
For Iranian Victoria Resident Sohrab Mosahebi, this year will be the first time he celebrates the holiday in Canada as he moved to the city from Iran nine months ago.
He said he looks forward to finally celebrating in-person again after two years of strict lockdown measures, although he won’t be the same without his family back home.
“The most fun we had usually in our country was in these two weeks of celebration of Nowruz,” he explained, adding that the new year always brings back happy memories of his childhood and adolescence.
Mosahebi is also keeping the spirit alive locally as he set up his own haft-seen table in his Victoria home, which he usually does with his father.
“Personally, I lost my mother when I was a teenager, so it was just me and my father,” he said.
“We were just like two friends, sitting by the haft-seen table together. So, [there] is always good memories with the haft-seen table.”
Javanmard also said she’s looking forward to bigger gathering this year and being able to see everyone’s happy faces.
“We can … party. We can join other people with … happiness,” she said.
Nowruz takes place on Sunday and celebrations across the city will take place throughout the week, including one at the University of Victoria, according to Mosahebi, and another organized by the Victoria Iranian-Persian Cultural Society.