State Magazine, May 2008
Words: Johnnie Craig Photography: James Goulden & Shawna Scott
Belly dancing and cream cakes: State helps to celebrate Persian New Year
You can just imagine the gossip-mongering; “Did you hear, there’s another one of those mad parties going on… some place off the Naas Road in Dublin 22, it’s all that thump-thump-thump music and strange dancing. Oh, and there’s there’s the usual gang of young fellas, all dressed in white, sitting in a group, passing around some substance or other.”
Well, it’s perfectly true: it’s a party in an upstairs room at the Red Cow Complex; it’s a Persian New Year celebration, where a DJ is providing floor-filling dance music; and a group of smartly-attired young men are indeed passing something around – they’re sharing a freshly peeled orange.
This is Dublin’s own version of Nowruz (‘New day’ in Old Persian), a celebration marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian calendar – and, before you ask, it’s now the year 2567. As religious ceremonies go, it’s a bit of a curiosity in Ireland, as it predates anything on our Christian calendar, having been celebrated by Persians for at least 3000 years.
While it would be an exaggeration to say that the Red Cow has been transformed for the occasion, it’s at least unusual to see the traditional, ornately decorated ‘Haft Sin‘ table set up just inside the doorway of the function room; it comprises seven symbolic foodstuffs, all of which begin with the letter ‘s’ in Persian, signifying ‘the seven creations and holy immortals’ protecting them. From the word go, it looks like a party that caters for the finer senses. All around the hall, there’s an alluring fragrance of musk and chocolate. Continue reading