Sunday, March 25, 2007

Third Annual No Ruz Day Parade

Today was the third Persian No Ruz Parade in New York City. It was the first one I attended and half participated in. Not only did Iranians participate, but the New York City Police Band, the Mother Cabrini Girl’s Band, and the All-City Boy’s Band marched. Our Mayor Mike did not attend; I assume it is not his style. He is scheduled, however, to hold a New Year’s Party for Iranians on Monday. I hope he will honor us with his presence, though I doubt he will.

It was a gorgeous spring day, sunny if little cool. It was the best one could get in this part of the country in this season, and I was grateful. The parade started at 41st Street and ended at 26th Street in Gramercy Park. It took two hours and was extremely orderly and organized. I do not know what the New Yorkers made of it. It did not in the least resemble the TV portrayal of Iran or Iranians, nor did it look like those occasional film clips from Iran. It certainly was a good slap in the face for Warner Brothers and its 300.

It was interesting to see how Iranians identified themselves when they are free to choose, when there is no Islamic Republic to do amr be ma‛ruf va nahi as monker, when one is free to choose only the best. It was a display of colors, dances, and music and best of all was the overwhelming presence of women. It was two hours of dancing and dancing. The folk dresses were so colorful that I do not think Madison Avenue, even with its full array of oriental carpet shops, had ever looked so colorful. I personally was not that pleased with the music selections—I thought that even with the pop music and the very common music or our folk music, the organizers could have chosen better. There was only one singer of live music; there could have been more. There are plenty of good performances of folk music which were not used. However, I think the presence of women and the colors and the whole energy invested in dancing for two hours made up for all this. (On second thought, it could have been their presence which made everything else fade!)

In my humble opinion, this parade was not merely the celebration of No Ruz, and not only homage to our culture by us the immigrants in the United States, but a political and social statement. Millions of Iranian told both the governments of Iran and the United States who they are and how they like to be perceived: happy, peaceful, expressive, colorful, variant, tolerant, and yes, not male-chauvinist. Did I forget to mention that Iranian woman in full color ran the show? They did a wonderful job.

[Please revisit this post; we plan to have pictures of this event posted soon.]

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