Iranian Friends Decorate for the New Year — Rebirth and Renewal
“One of my fondest memories of the haft-seen table is every year helping my mother put it together. Kids were in charge of coloring the boiled eggs which was always a lot of fun,” recalls Rojano.
The Woodlands residents Rojano Ardalan and Niloo Tchmananzar met at The Woodlands Mall in 2008. Delighted to learn they were both originally from Iran and relatively new to the area, the two hit it off and quickly became friends.
In honor of the spring season, The Woodlander asked Rojano and Niloo to decorate a haft-seen, a Persian new year’s party table, together in honor of the 2019 Iranian Nowruz—the new year.
Nowruz translates to “new day” and is an ancient festival celebrating the rebirth of nature which formally marks the beginning of spring. This year, Nowruz landed on the evening of March 20th in the United States.
Rojano and Niloo’s haft-seen is decorated with 7 core items beginning with the letter sin “s” in Persian with each item serving as a symbol of renewal. The 7 core items are:
1. seeb (apple), representing beauty
2. seer (garlic), representing good health
3. serkeh (vinegar), representing patience
4. sonbol (hyacinth), representing spring
5. samanu (sweet pudding), representing fertility
6. sabzeh (sprouts), representing rebirth
7. sekeh (coins), representing prosperity
“The sonbol (hyacinth) representing spring is a symbol of a fresh start and renewed hope for peace, love and acceptance,” smiles Rojano. “A reminder to see the beauty in everything and everyone.”
Many haft-seen tables like Rojano and Niloo’s also includes sacred texts and poetry books, a mirror (representing introspection and reflection) and candles (inspiration for the future), a goldfish swimming in a bowl (representing life) and painted eggs (representing children). The dolls are mainly decorative (not everyone uses them) with the costumes sometimes originating from different parts of Iran. Fruits and other edibles are for entertaining guests who visit the table.
“One of my fondest memories of the haft-seen table is every year helping my mother put it together. Kids were in charge of coloring the boiled eggs which was always a lot of fun, “recalls Rojano. “When my brother was 3 years old, he would try and catch the goldfish with his tiny hands and I would have to watch him like a hawk!”
In 2008, Rojano moved to The Woodlands in from Las Vegas, Nevada where she worked as an architect. Niloo is from Rafsanjan, Kerman in Iran where she worked as a sociologist. She moved to The Woodlands in 2001. Rojano and Niloo are both married, have children and enjoy going for walks on The Woodlands Waterway and then enjoying a coffee together at a nearby café (Levure in Market Street is a favorite).
“Another thing we like to do together is to see a film and then have lunch afterwards to discuss the story, “explains Niloo.
Over the years, they have met many new Iranian friends in The Woodlands, Houston and Sugarland and belong to a group of about 30 couples who rotate having parties at each other’s homes throughout the year.
“Driving to nearby Houston to do our Persian grocery shopping a few times a year is a must!” laughs Niloo. “We look forward to stocking up on some of our favorite items from home like specialty sweets and spices that we can use for the haft-seen and other times during the year.”
The haft-seen usually stays up for at least 13 days. Celebration ends on the 13thcof Farvadin, the 1stmonth of the Persian calendar.
The Woodlander thanks Rojano and Niloo for sharing their Nowruz haft-seen table with us and wishes them a happy spring season and new year!