Persian New Year marks spring equinox

President Paradis Madhavi leads the ceremony during the Nowruz celebration Tuesday at the Sacred Space in the Ludwick Center. Nowruz is the celebration of the Persian New Year. / photo by Kamila K. De La Fuente
President Paradis Madhavi leads the ceremony during the Nowruz celebration Tuesday at the Sacred Space in the Ludwick Center. Nowruz is the celebration of the Persian New Year. / photo by Kamila K. De La Fuente

Kamila K. De La Fuente
LV Life Editor

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life hosted the University’s first Nowruz, Persian New Year, celebration on Tuesday with a special candle lighting and poetry reading in the Ludwick Center Sacred Space led by University President Paradis Mahdavi. 

Nowruz, which translates to new day, has been celebrated around the world for thousands of years by Iranians of all religious backgrounds in honor of the spring equinox.

“When the Earth is rejuvenating after a long, dark winter, it is a celebration of the triumphs of healing,” Mahdavi said. 

“Nowruz is probably my favorite time of year,” Mahdavi added. “It’s a celebration of our heritage, our culture. It celebrates the rejuvenation of the earth. It’s a time of the healing and rebirth.”

Mahdavi explained that a big part of the festival is to hold the hand of someone you’ve had disagreement with. And you jump “over the fire” together to get over the disagreements that may have taken place during the cold winter months. 

Evette Yousef, director of operations, external relationships and administration for the College of Law, who was born in Maat, Egypt and raised in Tehran, attended the Tuesday event. She talked about the holiday, making memories with family, and enjoying the food, drinks, and “haft-seen,” an arrangement of seven symbolic items, whose names start with the letter,  س, pronounced “seen,” the 15th letter in the Persian alphabet; “haft” is Persian for seven. 

Each items symbolizes something different: The mirror symbolizes reflection. Families sit around the table and read poetry, Yousef said.

“Celebrate, love, one another; respect one another because this is today,” Yousef said, adding that Nowruz is about “enjoying every day of your life and feeling blessed and being grateful.” 

“I think it means so much to people on campus who’ve felt like they’ve never been seen,” said Alesha Knox, associate director of multicultural affairs. “They have had an opportunity to celebrate something from their home on campus.”

In the back row Jenieva Black, senior biology major, soaked in the knowledge of a new culture. 

“I thought that this would be a great opportunity to celebrate one of my favorite seasons and to celebrate a festival (and) custom of a culture that I’m not familiar with,” Black said.

“Events like this, help to create … a larger sense of inclusion and belonging, while also offering learning opportunities about different cultures for the whole community,” Mahdavi said. 

Kamila K. De La Fuente can be reached at

Kamila K. De La Fuente is a fifth-year senior creative writing and broadcast journalism major. She is currently the LV Life editor for the Campus Times. She is a dedicated broadcast journalist who is passionate about storytelling and community engagement. Devoted to a lifestyle of knowledge, service and vision, she is actively involved in her community as well as a fierce advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. She has previously served as an assistant editor and staff writer in Fall 2022.

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