For thousands of years, Persians have celebrated the thirteenth day of the Persian New Year, which starts at the beginning of the Spring, by spending the day away from their home in parks or away from the cities. This is a long cherished tradition that has been passed on from generations to generations for centuries. It is called Sizdeh-Bedar. It is a national holiday in Iran. Those of us who live outside Iran celebrate the spirit of the Sizdeh-Bedar on the Sunday of the weekend closest to it. This year, Iranians abroad celebrated Sizdeh-Bedar on April 5, 1998.
On Sizdeh-Bedar, Iranians go to city parks in hundreds and thousands. For us Sizdeh-Bedar is a very happy occasion. We come together with friends and relatives in a relaxed setting, eat traditional Persian food, dance to Persian music and play games and sports. Sizdeh-Bedar is an opportunity for the older Iranians to teach and share our rich culture and traditions with the younger generation. By participating in the festivities, Iranian youths choose to accept and cherish their Persian heritage and to remain Persian at heart and in soul.
Sizdeh-Bedar in the Southern California
Sizdeh-Bedar is celebrated wherever there are Iranians. Almost in all major Metropolitan cities in Europe, North America and Middle East, Iranians come together and celebrate this day. Mason Regional Park in Irvine, California is one of the more popular sites outside Iran for the gathering on Sizdeh-Bedar. Each year thousands of Iranians go to this park and celebrate Sizdeh Bedar. In the last few years, some of the Iranian business owners including us have set up booths to display their products and services.
Iran Online Forum Booth - This year our booth contained large posters depicting different parts of Iran and large banners advertising our services. On Sizdeh-Bedar, we announced the first and only FREE Persian web-based email account service. This is a service similar to hotmail.com. Our visitors can now receive free membership to Iran Online Forum and free email accounts and get their name listed in the Iran Online White Pages. We also handed out hundreds of balloons, buttons and flyers.
Early on during the week, rain showers were predicted on Sizdeh-Bedar. This however did not stop the ones that year after year travel from as far as Los Vegas (350 miles) and Fresno (300 miles) to join the celebration in the Mason Park. Their plans were made few weeks before and no rain or shine could have changed that. Late at night, the cloud started clearing out. Early in the morning, when we got to the park, there were big patches of cloud. Fog was still lingering over the lake in the middle of the park. We along the other business owners started to set up our booths. By about 10:00 O'clock, almost all the booths were set up and ready for operation. As the day went by more and more people showed up in the park. Even city of Irvine, Orange county and police departments who harassed law abiding Iranians by restricting the parking facilities and over charging visitors for parking space were not able to stop people from joining the celebration. By about 2:00 O'clock the park was filled with Iranians who were eating, dancing, playing games and renewing old acquaintances. Persian food and treats were among the most popular items sold by the merchants. Chelo-Kabob, Ashe-e-Reshteh (traditional Persian soup), Balal (barbecued corn), Chaghaleh-Badam (fresh almond) and traditional Persian ice cream were sold by multitude of vendors. The party lasted until about 7:00 P.M. when people started to leave knowing that next year we would all be back, celebrating Sizdeh-Badar in the Mason Park as always.
We need to let them know
There is a large number of Iranians living in the Orange County and city of Irvine. They are all hard working, law-abiding and contributing members of the community who value and cherish Persian traditions. Sizdeh-Bedar is one of the days that Iranians celebrate every year. It is no different than Easter or Thanksgiving. Iranian community expects full cooperation of city and county officials as well as Police department to help make the celebration the best it can be. We need to remind them Iranians’ votes count like any other nationalities come elections time. If needed, Iranian community could and would exercise its voting power along with other legal means to accommodate its needs.