Iranian-Americans celebrate Norooz, Persian New Year

Persian New Year, also known as Norooz, was celebrated at Los Angeles City Hall on March 16 as members of Persian American Communities Inc. — a nonprofit organization consisting of local Iranian American Jews and Muslims — joined with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and members of the City Council.

Norooz is a secular holiday marking the first day of spring that is celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan and some central Asian countries. The holiday’s traditions date back nearly 2,000 years, and its ceremonies, according to Persian folklore, are symbolize the forces of rebirth and good.

“For us Iranians living in the city, Norooz is important to be recognized because it’s such a big part of our culture that we don’t want to see lost,” said Joe Shooshani, a local Iranian Jewish businessman.

Los Angeles is home to nearly 100,000 Iranian Americans, the largest such population outside of Iran. Although Persians have lived in the Southland for nearly three decades, L.A. city officials only started celebrating Norooz three years ago.

In addition to the City Hall event, portions of Westwood Boulevard between Wilshire and Olympic boulevards will be closed on March 25 for a public Norooz celebration.