Skip to content

Photos: Ambleside Fire Festival brings community together to celebrate spring

The annual Chaharshanbeh Suri festival at West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park allows community members to leave bad spirits behind as they welome the arrival of spring

Ambleside Park was filled with the presence of many Iranians who gathered to celebrate Chaharshanbeh Suri during West Vancouver’s annual Fire Festival Tuesday evening.

Chaharshanbeh Suri, a traditional Iranian festival, is deeply rooted in the culture and symbolizes a time of cleansing.

Arman Sardari, a sergeant with the West Vancouver Police Department, highlighted the significance of the event as he monitored the crowd and enjoyed the celebrations.

“We jump over fires so that we can leave the bad spirits behind and move into the new year with only good intentions and good things on our mind,” he said.

Sardari has been serving with the police department for more than 14 years in various roles. “One thing that all of us do in West Vancouver is that we do community policing,” he said. “We’re very community police oriented and that includes community events like the Nowruz.”

He grew up on the North Shore within the Iranian community. When it comes to Nowruz and other Iranian events, he is usually tapped on the shoulder to help out.

“Chaharshanbeh Suri is one of those events where I enjoy coming out to speak, getting to know everyone, taking pictures and sharing with my colleagues, especially about the Iranian New Year and its terminology,” he said. “It’s more about culture and tradition rather than religion. I think that’s what really sets us apart.”

He believes that when one leaves their country, they often want to find communities that they can relate to and celebrate their old traditions with.

“Chaharshanbeh Suri is one of those annual traditions where people can get together, reminisce about old times, and keep that culture and all those traditions alive.”

Armin Nejad Yousefi, a 35-year-old Persian singer, migrated to Canada about five years ago and currently resides on the North Shore.

“We celebrate Chaharshanbeh Suri, a traditional event marking the end of winter and welcoming the arrival of spring,” he said. “I work with the Bakara band as a singer.”

Nejad Yousefi believes that when Iranian people migrate to other countries, they try to return to the traditional things they had before and traditional celebrations like Yalda, Chaharshanbeh Suri, and Nowruz.

“I can say the Islamic Republic regime has banned us from happiness, so we don’t have those things in Iran,” he said. “We can’t do as much there as we can here.”

Patrick Weiler, the Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, attended this event and said it’s important for the government of Canada to celebrate all the different cultures that make up the country’s mosaic.

“We know the Iranian Canadian community, both on the North Shore and across the country, is very large, and it’s a really important part of what makes our community what it is,” he said. “It’s an important opportunity to celebrate Nowruz.”

Weiler believes that it’s an important time, not only for the Iranian community or Afghan community, but for all communities to celebrate their roots together.

“It’s an opportunity for everybody to learn about the culture here and to celebrate it too,” he said. “I think events like these are really important. It’s important for the entire community to have a chance to understand the richness of the community.”

Those who attended the fire festival Tuesday enjoyed live music, fire jumping, and the offerings of food trucks. The celebration was hosted by the Iranian Canadian Congress.

Hamid Jafari is a Vancouver-based freelance journalist who writes about the Iranian community in Canada, art, culture, and social media trends. His work for the North Shore News is supported by New Canadian Media. [email protected]