For Nourooz, Iranians swarm shops and bazaars to prepare for the thirteen-day period of visiting and revisiting one another and hosting guests by offering different types of pleasantries such as sweets, fruits and mixed nuts. Children are treated with new clothing and shoes while women treat themselves to make-overs.
You can imagine, for business owners, Nourooz is a profit-making time. My cousin, for example, who owns a small beauty parlor in a middle to lower class neighborhood looks forward Nourooz — a time when her tiny place is packed with women awaiting hair cuts, high lights and facial treats.
Nourooz, also is a time for wishes and new year resolutions (sounds familiar?). Ordinary people wish each other good health, happiness and prosperity. Those who still have some political motives left in them wish for freedom and change while the active opposition groups use the auspicious occasion to urge the Iranian people to topple the regime.
Some years, some are fortunate to be able to afford the expensive costs of the holiday from prices of foods and goods to high cost of gas since traveling within Iran is a common custom during this time. However, it seems that this year the troubled economy has taken its toll on many; the economic tailspin is the result of both US/EU sanctions and the administration of Ahmadinejad’s mishandling of economy.
I began to feel this frustration a month ago when the nostalgic longings for wanting to be home to prepare for Nourooz (just like how we prepare here for Christmas and New Years) overtook me. So, I talked/wrote to friends and family in Iran and asked them to describe to me the joy of preparations, the smells of flowers blooming, and the excitement for the most awaited holiday.
The responses, however, were very cold and depressing. The same overwhelming sense depression of hopelessness I’ve been talking about in my weekly posts were evident in the responses I received. A Facebook message from a friend read “Do you really think we could afford to celebrate Nourooz?” Another one told me to not to be so naive since no one is in mood for any celebrations. My best friend, on the other hand, said to me that Iranians will find a way to shop and celebrate so I shouldn’t worry too much.
So, that’s how I “Heart” Iran. Even the New Year does not mean the same thing for every one. Only in Iran, the natural turning of the seasons and the new year brings joy to some while economical pressure and political gain for others. Iranians outside of the country too are facing mixed feelings. Some like me, homesick that they can't be in Iran with friends and family, others so festive and happy for being able to properly celebrate this day.
On that note, I wish those of you who celebrate Nourooz a wonderful year ahead and for the rest of you a very happy spring.