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Persian Community Celebrates New Year in Westwood

The celebration included music, dancing and visits from dignitaries.

March 20 marked the Persian New Year and, on Sunday, Westwood celebrated the occasion with festivities of all sorts.

The Persian New Year—or Nowruz, literally meaning "new day"—occurs on the first day of Spring and is a secular holiday celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds, according to Mashad Khosraviani, writing for the Huffington Post.

One of the most important activities, she says, is creating a specific table setting with symbolic items. The haft-seen table (meaning "table set with seven items beginning with the letter S") includes sumac to symbolize sunrise and the spice of life, senjed (fruit of the lotus tree) for love and affections, serkeh (vinegar) for patience and age, Seeb (apples) for health and beauty, sir (garlic) for good health, samanu (wheat pudding) for fertility and the sweetness of life and sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass) for rebirth and renewal. Other items can also be placed on the table and vary from family to family, Khosraviani wrote.

In Westwood Sunday, the focus was on live music, dancing and the Persian culture in general.

Westwood's "Persian Square" (Westwood Boulevard between Wilkins and Ohio) was closed off to allow for the festivities while merchants sold Persian pastries and platters of treats, books, CDs and more.

The celebration, now a decade old, also featured visits from Congressman Tony Cardenas, Council member Paul Koretz, Los Angeles city attorney candidate Mike Feuer, city controller candidates Dennis Zine and Ron Galperin and mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, reported KPCC public radio.

The mayoral candidates spoke of the importance of the Iranian community to the American identity and the dignitaries referred to values that Iranians and Americans share, KPCC reported.

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