Adrin Nazarian, the first Iranian-American member of the California State Assembly, made history on March 24 in the state capitol by honoring the Persian New Year of “No Ruz” for the first time ever. I had the rare opportunity to witness this historic event and was surprised by the outpouring of support from the more than two dozen Sacramento area Iranian-Americans in attendance for the event. Those in attendance was surprised and filled with joy that public state officials were honoring their community for the first time in nearly four decades. No Ruz is a secular holiday that marks the beginning of Spring and encourages a sense of brotherhood among all mankind.
Contrary to what the media and news media have portrayed about Iranian-Americans, the community is perhaps one of the most educated, one of the most successful and innovative groups that have immigrated to the U.S. With many leaders estimating that nearly one million Iranians living in California, the largest population outside of Iran, California has no doubt benefited the most from the contributions of the Iranian community.
Often times Nazarian, who is Armenian and not Jewish, gets confused by countless individuals of being a member of the famous Iranian Jewish Nazarian clan based in Southern California. Yet I found Assembly member Nazarian to have made a special name for himself in the Iranian American community since he has connected well with many of them on a personal level. “I can sense he (Nazarian) really cares about Iranians and the larger community issues because he speaks from the heart-- it is really surprising,” one middle aged Iranian woman told me after the No Ruz celebrations in the state legislature recently. So I decided to chat with Assembly member Nazarian to find out his motivation for outreaching to local Iranian Americans and the following is a portion of my interview…
Assembly member Nazarian officially introducing Assembly Resolution 91 on the assembly floor to honor the Persian New Year.
Iranian community members celebrating No Ruz with Assembly member Nazarian at California State Capitol, photo by Karmel Melamed.
Traditional No Ruz "Half Seen" table set for the celebration of the Persian New Years.