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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 28 October 2020
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Dublin takes part in worldwide Persian festival for first time

Nowruz is a traditional festival to mark spring – and last night people from Ireland’s Afghan, Azerbaijani, Baha’I, Iranian, Kazakh, Kurdish and Turkish communities all gathered to celebrate it.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí with guests at the launch of Nowruz in Dublin on Tuesday
Dublin's Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí with guests at the launch of Nowruz in Dublin on Tuesday
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IN SPITE OF the interminable downpour, Ireland’s first official ‘Nowruz’ celebrated the Persian festival of spring in Dublin City Hall last night, with vibrant performances of traditional music, poetry and dance.

Nowruz, meaning ‘New Day’ in Persian, is a traditional festival originating in the Middle East and Central Asia marking the Spring equinox and is celebrated every year by over 300 million people across the world.

From the brightly embroidered, swirling dresses of traditional Afghan dancers to a poignant piano composition by David Cunningham, an Irish member of the Baha’I community, the performances celebrated the diverse heritage of these communities in Ireland.

The Dublin festival brought together members of Ireland’s Afghan, Azerbaijani, Baha’I, Iranian, Kazakh, Kurdish and Turkish communities in a unique non-political non-religious celebration of culture.

Two musicians from the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Iranian Azerbaijan came together for the event to perform a song composed especially for the Dublin festival.

The community-based initiative was pioneered by Sheelan Yousefizadeh, a young Iranian woman living and studying in Ireland and winner of Miss Ethnic Ireland 2012, with the support of Dublin City Council and the Office for Integration.

As an Ambassador for Change with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Yousefizadeh saw the Nowruz festival, which traditionally represents new beginnings, hope and unity, as an opportunity to celebrate interculturalism and encourage new solidarity between communities.

“I wanted to unite these cultures and show that despite what we might see in the media, people from all these different countries can work together for a common cause”, she said.

The festival of Nowruz was officially celebrated in the European Parliament for the first time last year. Emer Costello, MEP for Dublin, expressed her support for what she described as a “feast of culture”, adding that she hoped the Dublin event would become “an essential part of the cultural calendar”. She also emphasised the urgent need for greater integration and vindication of rights for Ireland’s migrant communities.

A special exhibition in celebration of Nowruz, “A journey through the Silk Road countries”, will be held at City Hall from today until 28 March, showcasing work by artists from Azerbaijan, Ireland, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Yemen.

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About the author:

Caelainn Hogan

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