Some of our various cultural festivals give us an indication of the size of our different cultural communities; for example, the huge Sikh Khalsa Day Parades in Nathan Phillips Square and Mississauga, and the St. Patrick’s Day, Portuguese and Caribbean parades. This past weekend, our Tibetan march along Bloor Street to protest Chinese human rights abuses seemed to go on and on and on. We are fortunate to have a lot of Tibetans too.
I got my first impression of the size of our Iranian community by attending a Nowruz celebration at Mel Lastman Square several years ago. The amphitheatre can accommodate 2000 people and every seat was taken. The space in front of the stage and the surrounding area was occupied with people standing. I later learned that the 2016 census counted a total of 97,110 Iranians residing in the Greater Toronto Area. It seemed that they were all there that evening, but they weren’t.
This coming weekend is the spring festival of Nowruz which is celebrated traditionally in Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan as well as Iran. Of course it is a major event in multicultural Toronto too. Most of the events mentioned here below are Iranian. I’ve only found one other country’s but I haven’t had time to look for more. Maybe you can help me.
The ancient Iranian version dates back to 1700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era. It is a cultural and not a religious event. There will be music, dancing and at one or more of these events in Toronto, an opportunity to jump over a purifying fire. The actual day this year is on March 21.
I once spent four or so days in culturally-rich Iran; unfortunately, without a chance to see any of its magnificent archeological sites or its festivals. I want to go back but in the meantime, I’ve attended several Iranian festivals in Toronto and especially love its food, music and dance. Though I haven’t tried them all, the following are events I have personally attended, enjoyed and recommend:
Iran. The Annual Norooz Grand Bazaar. This has been one of our most beautiful ethnic bazaars offering some very beautiful, traditional arts and crafts and good food for sale. Hosted by Behnam Of Ontario. March 15. 4pm to March 17. 7pm. St. George Centre, 9116 Bayview Avenue, Richmond Hill. https://behnamofontario.org/8th-annual-norooz-grand-bazaar/
Iran. Iranian-Canadian Fire Festival (Chahārshanbe-Suri) Nowruz. March 19. 5-11pm. Free. Richmond Hill Green, 1300 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill. Several thousand people usually attend this annual event which includes live music, dancing, vendors, and an opportunity to cleanse your soul by jumping over a bon fire. For video of a previous festival. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HETR2MwqT1U. For information: https://calendar.richmondhill.ca/default/Detail/2019-03-19-1700-Iranian-Canadian-Fire-Festival.
Iran. Iranian Fire Festival (15th Annual Event). Hosted by Iranian Fire Festival Celebration Committee-Ontario. March 19. 7-10pm. Free. Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge Street. Toronto’s 15th Annual Iranian Fire Festival (4 Shanbeh Soori) will be held on Tuesday, March 19th from 7-10pm.
“Special programs during Iranian Fire Festival will include Iranian music performances ranging in various styles including folkloric, jazz, classic, fusion, pop, and electronic, Dance performance including styles from folkloric to contemporary, Iranian Food that features a wide range of cuisine that consists of regional food and drinks, Fire Jumping, Incredible Fire Works and Much More.” https://www.facebook.com/events/mel-lastman-square/iranian-fire-festival-15th-annual-event/2014578721971423/
Iran. Toronto’s Iran Human Rights Abuses Action Circle. March 28. 6-9pm. This event is pay what you can, suggested donation $10. Amnesty Toronto Office, 1992 Yonge Street, 3rd Floor. Food, performances and an opportunity to write letters to or about political prisoners in Iran. https://www.aito.ca/event/amnesty-international-iran-action-circles-10th-annual-nowruz-celebration/
Events I’ve never personally attended. Please let me know if these are worth going to:
Afghanistan. Iran. Nowroz Mubarak 2019. March 28. 6-11:30pm. ASU x ISO by Afghan Student Union @ UTSC, 1265 Military Trail. Dance, music, performances, and the celebration of the Persian and Afghan New Year!! For more information regarding this event, contact Malia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iran. Nobaharan Naw-Ruz Gala by Dj Siamak and Studio Arash Wed, March 20. 6:30-11:59pm. $125-$150. Parkview Manor, 55 Barber Greene Road #1. Note: “Formal Attire in effect.” Web site:www.nobaharan.ca. For ticket please call 416-890-4498 or https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/nobaharan-tickets-53657777858?aff=erellivmlt
Iran. Nowruz Festival. March 16. 11am-11pm. $25-$70. Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, 10268 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill. Tel. 905-787-8811. https://www.yorkregion.com/events/9187364–6th-nowruz-festival-canada/
Iran. 19th Annual Spring Nowruz Bazaar and Mayar Market Nowruz. March 15 – March 18. Contact us for more information. 647-848-1300 – 416-830-8085. Richmond Green Park, 1300 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill. https://bit.ly/2F9reiv.
Multicultural. International Nowruz Festival. March 15-20. 11am-11pm. Free. Centerpoint Mall, 6464 Yonge Street. ”Cultural programs, DJ’s, and live music … The right Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Dignitary Mayor John Tory, and Honorable Members of Parliament will be invited to the opening ceremony.
“… The event will be carefully planned to include huge heated outdoor domes, laser lighting, red carpet, and contemporary setup, to accommodate business booths, to promote local businesses….” https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/international-nowruz-festival-tickets-55940055211?aff=ebapi
Have a Happy Nowruz. Hope spring comes soon. Ruth.