April 19, 2010 | 7:26 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
No Ruz is an ancient secular new year celebrated by Iranians of different faiths worldwide to mark the beginning of Spring each year with the giving of gifts of money, dancing and parties held among friends. On March 28 nearly 10,000 Los Angeles area Iranian American of various religions including local Iranian Jews, celebrated the Persian New Year of “No Ruz” on Westwood Boulevard in Westwood Village with the official naming of a street corner as “Persian Square”. Los Angeles City Council member for District 5, Paul Koretz was at hand for the ceremony after he had first introduced a motion in the council recognizing the corner of Westwood Boulevard and Wilkins Street as “Persian Square” earlier this year.
The following are my interviews with Koretz, L.A. City Controller Wendy Gruel and Beverly Hills’ newly installed Iranian Jewish mayor Jimmy Delshad before the No Ruz celebrations:
Other elected officials on hand for the Persian Square gathering included L.A. City Council member Tom LaBonge and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Here is video of Koretz and Yaroslavsky speaking to the crowd:
Interestingly, last month Delshad was installed to serve his second term as mayor of Beverly Hills, a position that rotates yearly among the city council members. The local Iranian American community was able to both celebrate his return to the mayorship of Beverly Hills and the new Persian New Year. Last year Koretz narrowly won his city council seat in a tight election with the wide support of local Iranian Americans in the city who primarily live and work in his district. It seems as if Koretz is showing his appreciation to the community with this goodwill gesture.
Kudos should go out to the Iranian American businessmen in the Westwood area, including the “unofficial Iranian mayor” of Westwood, Alex Helmi, who was instrumental in organizing community support for the “Persian Square” signage and the No Ruz celebration in Westwood. While No Ruz is a secular ancient Persian holiday, I think the real beauty of the holiday comes from the fact that you have Iranian Americans of various faiths celebrating life and their friendship together in a sense of unique harmony! In this world of continuous religious conflicts and strife, do we rarely see these amazing signs of coexistence or tolerance among individuals of different faiths. Therefore Southern California’s Iranian Americans deserve our utmost respect for coming together and showing the rest of the world what it means to be loving human beings.
In addition to the No Ruz event in Westwood, the L.A. City Council honored No Ruz in an official ceremony at City Hall last month and on April 2 several thousand local Iranian Americans celebrated the end of the holiday at a Persian festival held at Balboa Park in Reseda.
Here are some photos I captured last month from the No Ruz celebrations in Westwood:
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