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Norouz – time for celebration and leaders’ messages

20/03/12 17:32 CET

Norouz has a special place in most Iranian hearts. It is not like a religious Eid that only the faithful celebrate, or a state-sponsored political event that only attracts the jubilation of a specific part of the population. This is the one time that everyone comes together in celebration.

The Iranian love affair with Norouz goes a long way. Some would like to say it is a tradition that has been celebrated for the past 7,000 years, therefore it carries a lot on its shoulder of the collective sense of being one people. Others would think it suffices to have two weeks off and enjoy the company of loved ones.

President Obama has addressed Iranians every year with a Norouz message. This year’s message bore similarities to ones of yesteryear, wishing Iranians prosperity and better days. But it had a special focus: the electronic curtain around the country.

Obama blamed the Iranian regime for imposing limitations on what the people can see and say in order to protect its power. “Technologies that should empower citizens, are being used to repress them,” he said in regards to monitoring electronic communications.

“Because of the actions of the Iranian regime, an electronic curtain has fallen around Iran; a barrier that stops the free flow of information and ideas into the country and denies the rest of the world the benefit of interacting with Iranian people who have so much to offer.”

Watch President Obama’s Norouz message here:

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke of a year in which his country was under pressure, yet “in spite of all the hardships, we made great achievements last year”. He had named the previous year one for “economic jihad,” one of hard work for improving the economic prospects.

Economy was the crux of his argument this Norouz and he called the New Year one for “national production and supporting Iranian labour and capital”.

“If we manage to increase our domestic production, the issue of inflation will be resolved, the issue of unemployment will be resolved and our economy will be strengthened in the real sense of the word, which will disappoint the enemy,” he said in his Norouz message broadcast on state television.

Norouz is a Persian word that literally means new day. It is the time of year when Vernal Equinox takes place and Spring officially begins. It is celebrated by more than 300 million people across the world, in Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Uzbekistan.

This song by Farhad is the ultimate narrative of what Norouz means to a child and guarantees nostalgia for any Iranian:

Follow Ali Sheikholeslami on Twitter

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