Nationality: American with Iranian and Indian Descent
Occupation: Undergraduate Academic Advisor
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/3/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Farsi / Hindi
The informant and I are eating lunch outside of Fertitta Hall around 12:00 pm. She describes to me about how she would bring in the New Year due to her Persian heritage.
Informant: “So there’s a Persian holiday that you actually celebrate the day before Persian New Year. And Persian New Year, unlike regular New Year that’s around the world on January 1st, we celebrate the day of spring. So every year our new year changes because the first day of spring changes.”
A: “Interesting, so it’s not just like Christmas where every year it’s on December 25?”
Informant: “Right. Exactly. So this year it was March 23rd. So on March 22nd, that Tuesday, we celebrate this holiday – it’s called Chaharshanbe Suri. Pretty much it’s like a fire that burns. But to start the new year, you’re actually supposed to jump over fire.
And you kind of recite this chat, which pretty much means ‘from this last year take away all my yellow’ which is like sickness or negativity or bad health and ‘give me red’ which is like prosperity and love and good health. And the fire is supposed to take away all the badness and then, you know, give all that’s good from what burns and then you start the new year off positively and then you eat a lot of good food. So it’s a weird holiday because normally you shouldn’t make people jump over big fire pits.”
A: “Is it a big one where you could get burned or is it smaller?…”
Informant: “I have seen it where people will jump over full blown fire pits, I’ve seen people do it at the beach. I’m lazy, so I just do my tea light candles and nothing gets burnt. But, yeah I’ve been doing it since I was a kid and it’s just a nice reminder the New Year’s coming. We speak a little bit of Farsi. “
The holiday of Chaharshanbe Suri seems to be counterintuitive to life since people are jumping over fire – which could lead to death – but it also signifies the burning of bad and bringing in of the good. I thought it was interesting that it didn’t matter how large or small the flame was, but it’s rather the concept of one just jumping over a flame that will bring them prosperity in the New Year.
See more on Chaharshanbe Suri here: https://irandoostan.com/iranian-fire-jumping-festival-chaharshanbe-soori/