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North Shore libraries celebrate Persian New Year with Nowruz programming

Farsi storytime, haft-seen tables, and Farsi language books, films and music are all on offer to celebrate Nowruz.
Nowruz Haft Seen Table MW web
West Vancouver Memorial Library customer and community experience co-ordinator Ehlam Zaminpaima stands with the Haft-Seen table on display during the Persian New Year celebration, Nowruz.

Ushering in Persian New Year and the spring equinox on March 20, libraries across the North Shore have organized programs to celebrate Nowruz.

The West Vancouver Memorial Library is welcoming the coming of spring with a haft-seen table in the main hall of the library. A haft-seen is an arrangement of seven items that start with the 15th letter of the Persian alphabet, pronounced “seen.”

The library’s table will include seeb (apple) to represent beauty, seer (garlic) to represent good health, serkeh (vinegar) to represent patience, sonbol (hyacinth) to represent spring, samanu (sweet pudding) to represent fertility, sabzeh (sprouts) to represent rebirth, and sekeh (coins) to represent prosperity.

On Wednesday (March 16), Sanam will be presenting Farsi Storytime virtually at 10 a.m. for the Memorial Library. The songs, rhymes, and story will primarily be delivered in Farsi with a little bit of English; however, all language speakers are welcomed to listen in. A recording of the event will be available on the library’s YouTube page after it premieres.

On Monday, March 21, ambient music by musicians Ali Razmi, on tar (a long-necked lute-type instrument) and vocals, and Ali Sajjadi, on oud (a short-neck lute-type instrument), will fill the main hall of the library.

“Nowruz is a time for hope and renewal at the beginning of spring,” said Ehlam Zaminpaima, customer and community experience co-ordinator for the library. “Right now, restrictions are lifting, people can come together again, and we are welcoming in a new beginning after the pandemic. At the same time, Nowruz gives a time to reflect on the current state of the world and the collective actions we can take to resist, and work towards a better world for all of us.”

Library goers are also encouraged to borrow Farsi language books, enjoy films, and peruse the Farsi language book club selection.

Starting March 17, North Vancouver District Public Library will also have a haft-seen table set up at its Lynn Valley branch.

On March 19, the North Vancouver City Library and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra will be holding a live virtual event with traditional Persian music performed by Sina Ettehad and Naeim Charkhi.

Starting at 11 a.m., the performance consists of two sets. The first set is inspired by traditional Persian classical music (radif) featuring kamanche (Persian four-string vertical fiddle) and tombak (hand drum).

The second half features shoorangiz (a Persian long-necked lute from the setar family), and dayereh (Persian skinned tambourine). The music of this set is inspired by Persian folk tunes from various regions.

The event is free of charge, although registration is required by Saturday, March 19 at 10 a.m.