Nowruz in Seattle 2017

Below, you’ll find more information about the Nowruz in Seattle event where you can: 

Pictures

Go here to see all the professional photos taken by our event photographer, Keyvan (Kvon) Behpour.

Go here to see all the pictures from the photo booth at the event.  Scroll through to find and download yours!

Save-the-Date

nowruz-std-v6

RSVP

The event is free (you do NOT need to bring a ticket), but it’s helpful for us to have a head-count of how many to expect. There are two ways to RSVP:

On Facebook:
Best for solo guests who are on Facebook – Go here to see the Facebook event and indicate you’re “going”.  If you’ve already registered with Eventbrite, you do NOT need to indicate you’re “going” on Facebook.

On Eventbrite:
Best for GROUPS or people who are NOT on Facebook – If you’ve already indicated you are going on Facebook, you do NOT need to register on Eventbrite. However, if you are bringing/want to invite a group and want to register for a lot of people at once, use/share the Eventbrite link!  If you want to invite people who aren’t on Facebook, share the Eventbrite link!

How to get there

Map v2

The event is located at Seattle City Hall:  600 4th Ave, Seattle WA 98104

Driving from the South

  • On I-5 North, take exit 164A
  • Turn left on James St.
  • Turn right on 4th Ave.  City Hall will be on your right.

Driving from the North

  • On I-5 South, take exit 165A toward James St.
  • Merge onto 6th Ave
  • Turn right onto James St.
  • Turn right on 4th Ave.  City Hall will be on your right.

Parking

  • Street parking is available for free
  • SeaPark parking garage offers a $7 flat rate from 10am to 7:30pm and is located at: 609 6th Ave, Seattle WA 98104.  Access the parking garage on 6th Ave. between Cherry and James.  The parking garage is marked with the signs shown below:parking
  • NOTE: This is NOT the Seattle Municipal Tower garage

About Nowruz

The arrival of Spring is celebrated world-wide with a variety of holidays and festivities.  In Iran and other countries, over 300 million people celebrate the arrival of Spring with Persian New Year – Nowruz (pronounced No-ruz).  For over 3000 years, Nowruz has held great significance for Persian people – guiding our world view, giving hope, reinforcing respect for traditions and our elders, celebrating nature and new beginnings, and bringing people together to honor the past and look to the future.

“Nowruz transcends national borders, religious divides and other differences to unite communities with bonds of goodwill. Such common purpose can help humanity rise to this moment in history.” – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Come experience this joyful celebration with us!  Meet the Persians among us who hail from Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.  See how we proudly pass this tradition on to future generations and how we share its positive messages with our American neighbors.

To learn more about the Haftsin Table, the symbol of Nowruz, go here.

Schedule of events

2pm – Doors will open.  Several organizations will be tabling at the event, representing different educational, cultural, and artistic groups.  A Kid’s Corner will be available for children, and tea and sweets will be provided by Cherry Street Coffee Shoppe.

2:45pm – The program will begin, and includes folkloric dance performances, musical pieces, and speakers.  We are honored to have a phenomenal and diverse line-up of speakers and performers.  Learn more about them below.

Note:  organizations, the Kid’s Corner, and refreshments will be available during the performances and speakers, so feel free to watch one performance/speaker or stay for all of them.

6pm – The event will end.

Participants of the event

Jay Inslee – Governor of Washington

We are grateful and moved to be able to share this lovely greeting recorded by Governor Inslee.

Cyrus Habib – Lieutenant Governor of Washington
Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-48(photo courtesy of Lt. Gov. Habib)

We are honored and positively delighted to announce that Washington’s Lieutenant Governor will be joining us for this event!

Lt. Gov. Habib is thrilled to join the Iranian-American community in the greater Seattle area for Nowruz in Seattle!  He’s especially excited about celebrating this holiday, which transcends religious affiliation and nationality, to highlight the contributions of the Persian community and its festive traditions.

As the highest-ranking Iranian-American in public office, Lt. Gov. Habib understands the importance of inclusion, and the necessity of support for all individuals, regardless of background.   Taking time to celebrate Nowruz effectively expands the community’s knowledge and understanding of the rich Persian culture and promotes tolerance at a time when such efforts are needed more than ever.

Keyvon (Kvon) Behpour – Photographer
Keyvan
(Photo and bio courtesy of kvonphotography.com)

We are so luck to have Keyvan (Kvon) Behpour photograph the event!  Go here to see his event pictures!

Kvon is an Iranian-American advertising photographer, with strong ties to Iran, its people and its architecture. He came to the US in 1977 and has since traveled back to Iran on three extended photography expeditions, one of which was to accompany aid organizations assisting the Bam earthquake victims.

Kvon specializes in photographing people for corporate communications, fashion, editorial and other commercial purposes, on location and in his studios in New York and Connecticut. Kvon’s fine art photography has been featured in publications in his native Iran, and is on display in the permanent art collection titled EL Espiritu de la Tierra, US Embassy chancellery building, La Paz, Bolivia. His work has recently received meritorious recognition from The Beckett Paper Company and Fairfield County Women in Communications.

Behooz Bahadori – Painter
Behrooz Bahadori
(Photo courtesy of Saatchi Art)

Behrooz Bahadori was born in Tehran, Iran, and was raised in a middle class family with seven children. He started his professional artistic career when he was twenty-two years old. After learning the modern watercolor styles and fine art he moved to Esfahan, one of the oldest and most artistic cities in Middle East. Apart from others, a mix of traditional Iranian art and the modern pop culture is shown in his style of painting.

Behrooz Bahadori moved to Turkey in 2007 where he held exhibitions in several museums. After doing series of exhibitions, Behr felt inspired by Western natural environment and moved to Washington State. Currently he lives in Seattle where he spends his time painting new beautiful modern watercolors.  See his incredible work here.

Fereidoun Tafreshi – Author
Fereidoun(Photo courtesy of Fereidoun Tafreshi)

Fereidoun Tafreshi is the author of the children picture book, “Triti’s Haftseen Table.” It’s the first children’s picture book about Haftseen, written both with Persian script as well as Persian using Roman Alphabets (aka Pinglish). This way young parents who don’t know how to read Persian will be able to read a Persian book for their young loved ones. Through it’s beautiful illustrations, Triti learns about Haftseen.  Fereidoun is dedicating all the proceeds of the sales of the book to Operation Smile which provides free surgery services to children who have extreme case of cleft lips in third world countries.  “Triti’s Haftseen Table” is available for purchase at Eylala (with discount), Amazon, and Oskoo Persian Market.

Fereidoun is the former editor in chief of the well known online music platform ZIRZAMIN and an event organizer. He also has a master of science degree with a dual major in electrical engineering and information technology from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm of Sweden.

Afshin and Nusha Sepehri – Producer and Narrator

(Bios and photos of – left to right – Afshin Supehri and Nusha Sepehri – courtesy of Shahnameh-audio.com)

We are so pleased that Afshin and his daughter, Nusha, will be joining us for the event to represent their audiobook, “The Stories of Shahnameh”.

Afshin Sepehri is the producer of the audio book “The Stories of Shahnameh”. He has passion for Persian literature, especially Shahnameh, the Persian epic by Ferdowsi, and has had several lectures and storytelling sessions on the topic over the years. He is the co-founder and director of Radio College Park, the longest running Persian podcast and a member of the advisory board of the Persian and Iranian Studies program at the University of Washington. Afshin has Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and works as a Senior Software Engineer.

Nusha Sepehri was born in 2004 and raised in the United States. Both her parents are Iranian and they have encouraged her to learn about the Persian culture and language from the time she was very young. She speaks, reads, and writes in both English and Persian. Her father, Afshin Sepehri, who loves Persian literature, told her stories from Shahnameh, which captivated her. They both believe that Shahnameh has beautiful stories and great lessons. They wanted more people to learn about these stories, so they created this audio collection.

Bookda Gheisar – King County Executive’s Office
Bookda Gheisar Globalist
(Photo courtesy of The Globalist)

We are excited that Bookda Gheisar will be joining us as a speaker at the event!

Bookda Gheisar works in the King County Executive’s office as Immigrant and Refugee Policy & Strategy Analyst in the Office of Equity and Social Justice.  She has over 30 years of experience working in social justice organizations in the Seattle area. Bookda is a proud Iranian who moved to the U.S. in 1980 and has lived in Seattle since 1987.

Shokoufeh Shadabih & Hossein Mansour – Musicians

(Photos courtesy of – left to right – Shokoufeh Shadabi and Hossein Mansour)

Shokoufeh Shadabi was born in Kermanshah, Iran.  She started taking classical vocal classes in Iran as a teenager and singing in a choir band as a soprano and alto. She got exposed to Jazz music after she moved to Seattle and she is following her passion by singing as a vocalist in the trio band of Seattle Jazz Night School. Her focus is on combining Farsi lyrics with English Jazz standard songs. In 2015, Shokoufeh graduated from the University of Washington school of public health and has been working for the City of Seattle as a program evaluator, since.

Hossein Mansour was born in Amol, Iran. He studied Mechanical Engineering in Sharif University before moving to Canada in 2008. After a few years of further studies and work as a mechanical engineer, he joined McGill University where he obtained his PhD in Music Technology studying several musical instruments including the Persian setar.  Hossein has been playing Tanbour for over 12 years. He also plays a bit of Setar and Tombak.

Auva Ravanpey & Aryan Khorram – UW PersianCircle

(Photos courtesy of – left to right – Auva Ravanpey & Aryan Khorram)

We are delighted that Auva and Aryan will be representing the UW PersianCircle and speaking at the event!

Auva Ravanpey, freshman at University of Washington, is currently a pre-dental student planning to major in Public Health, with a minor in Nutrition. She will have completed all first year levels of Persian language by this Spring under the instruction of UW Persian studies lecturer, Mrs. Shams. As a member of the UW PersianCircle this year, Auva has loved making a positive impact on her Persian community. She’s delighted to participate in these Nowruz celebrations in solidarity with her community and share her experiences of the support her fellow Iranian-American students receive as part of the UW family. Though she has never visited Iran, it is very important to her to remain connected to her Persian heritage.

Aryan Khorram is a junior at the University of Washington, studying microbiology. He has been part of the UW PersianCircle leadership team since his freshman year, and since then he’s learned more about his culture and has been able to educate others about Iran’s true values and traditions.  He took Persian with Professor Shams during his freshman year because he was very interested in fluently learning how to read and write, and wanted to connect more with his culture and reach proficiency in the Persian language.  He consider considers himself very lucky to have this opportunity of contributing to Persian/Iranian events through PersianCircle, as well as connecting with the wonderful Persian Studies program at the UW.

Bellevue College – Persian Association

(Photos courtesy of – left to right – Orchideh Raisdanai and Saghar Amini)

We are delighted that Orchideh and Saghar will be representing the Bellevue College’s Persian Association at the event!

Orchideh Raisdanai is a co-founder of the Persian Association supporting cultural and leadership development for college students. She is third generation Persian-American with family roots in the founding of the first Persian-American communities in the United States. She is a finance executive with 20 years of experience in business and community development.  She is passionate about youth leadership, cultural diversity and advocating for women in leadership.  She has co-founded several non-profits serving the community and serves on the boards of Leaders of Color Public Affairs Council, Arabic Culture Student Association, Bellevue College Accounting Program Advisory Board, and University of Washington Alumni Association GOLD.  Orchideh was recently elected to the King County Democrats Executive Board as 3rd Vice Chair and she chairs the committee for Communities of Color and Faith Outreach for the party. She aspires to serve our communities with her experience celebrating the proud heritage she comes from.

Saghar Amini is the President of the Bellevue College Persian Association, chapter to support Persian students on campus and educate all students on cultural diversity promoting the Persian culture. Saghar also works for Bellevue College in the Office of Student Legislative Affairs as Municipality Liaison. She is a Business Management student and aspires to serve in public office in the future. She is originally from Tabiz, Iran. She enjoys organizing community events, hosting the recent 2nd Annual Eastside Nowrooz Party and is co-organizing the upcoming Sizdah Bedar event at Lake Sammamish Park.

Dr. Samra Sangari – Scientist
Samra Sangari
(Photo courtesy of Dr. Samra Sangari)

We are so lucky to have Dr. Samra Sangari at the event as our Iran Expert.  Bring all your questions!

Dr. Samra Sangari received her bachelor degree from Tehran University and her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.  She completed two postdoctoral fellowships in areas of microelectromechanical systems and nanocomposites at RMIT and UW and took a position as the Director of the Polymeric Composite Lab at UW before joining Boeing Research and Technology in 2006.

She is the recipient of many awards and grants including Australian Research Council and National Science Foundation, and has served as Vice President, Boeing Women in Leadership, has been a peer reviewer for Journal of Composite Materials, and was the Symposium Chair for several conferences.  Dr. Sangari has over 40 publications in forms of journal and conference papers, patents and book chapters. She grew up as a gymnast and now is a climber, snowboarder and crossfitter and she loves exploring different neighborhoods in Seattle on her bike.  Having been born and raised in Iran, Samra is passionately committed to representing and sharing the Iranian culture on the international stage.

Shahrzad Shams – Lecturer
Shahrzad Shams
(Photo courtesy of Sharhzad Shams) 

We are so proud to have the intellectual powerhouse, Shahrzad Shams, speaking at the event!

Shahrzad Shams is the full-time Lecturer in Persian in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, where she anchors the Program’s courses in First and Second Year Persian. Trained in Linguistics (M.A. California State University, Fullerton, 1985), Ms. Shams has won acclaim and gratitude from students and colleagues since joining the faculty in 2009. She has also been nominated for the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Ms. Shams is an active organizer and promoter of Persian cultural events in the community. She has served as the liaison between the University of Washington Persian & Iranian Studies and the Iranian-American community. She also serves as the chair of the Iranian Film Initiative Committee which helps showcase Iranian films and film delegates every year at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Sholeh Mantashi & Payvand Seyedali

Seydali(Photo courtesy of Cathia Geller.  Payvand on left, Sholeh on right)

This dynamic mother-daughter duo will be speaking at the event and we are beyond thrilled!

Sholeh Mantashi was born in Abadan, Iran – a Southern Iranian city almost decimated by the Iran-Iraq War.   An engineer by background, Sholeh is a proud UW grad, but her passion lies in naturopathic healing, holistic living, and nutrition. She has steered her family through three countries and a multitude of life changes, runs an aviation company, ACS, with her partner and the Affrasiabi’s, and has recently become a delighted grandmother of two.

Payvand Seyedali was born right here in Seattle, on Capitol Hill! She is a graduate of University of Washington and Seattle University, and a high-school teacher by background. She left teaching to work on education policy and systems, has worked for a number of international organizations, and now lives in Afghanistan administering the UK’s Girls’ Education Challenge Fund. She’s also an avid salsa and tango dancer.

Nancy, Hal, and Dan – SISCA Travelers

(Photos courtesy of – left to right- Nancy Penrose, Hal Green, and Dan Smith)

At the event, three SISCA board members will be speaking about their experiences traveling to Iran.

Nancy Penrose lived in Iran for two years as a child. She was thrilled to make a return trip as an adult in 2008 with a Global Exchange Citizen Diplomacy group. Nancy worked for many years as a ocean science writer and editor at the University of Washington. Her current writing efforts include essays about travels to places ranging from Egypt to Germany to the Grand Canyon and a book about Louisiana woman sculptor Angela Gregory.

Hal Green, a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law School, practiced law for 31 years with MacDonald Hoague & Bayless in Seattle. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nigeria in the 60s, was a board member of both Ploughshares and the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Committee in the 80s, and is now on the board of SISCA. He lives with his wife Molly on Vashon Island, and pursues a deep interest in ancient Mesoamerica.

Dan Smith travelled to Iran for two weeks in April 2016 with friends from the Seattle law firm of MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, where he practiced immigration law for many years. He was a founder and long-time Board member of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Parisa Behzad-Pour – Educator
Parisa Behzad-Pour
(Photo courtesy of Parisa Behzad-Pour)

We are so excited that Parisa Behzad-Pour will be representing Bellevue College’s Continuing Education Department (which offers Farsi courses) at the event!  Born in Tehran, Parisa studied French Language and Literature in Tehran and gained her Master of Art degree from York University in Canada. After leaving Iran, she lived and worked in countries such as China, India, Canada and Taiwan. She settled in Seattle in 2005 where she has lived for past twelve years.

Currently as an educator at Bellevue College, she is not only teaching all levels of French, but also contributing to development of the new world language/cultural programs and workshops in both French and Farsi. Parisa is actively contributing to raise awareness on importance of second language acquisition in our community.

Therefore, she founded ParisAcademy Northwest, an academy specialized in delivering high quality second language (French, Spanish and Mandarin) enrichment programs for k-12 students in three public school districts. ParisAcademy also offers weekend language classes, private and semi-private lessons for all ages. She is an active member of PTSA in her neighborhood school as VP of enrichment programs. She thrives for excellence and her programs have gained an outstanding reputation due to its coherent curriculum design and consistency. In addition to world languages and culture she has passion for art, music and sports.

Linda Bernardi – Entrepreneur and Author
LindaBernardi
(Photo courtesy of lindabernardi.com)

We are so proud that Linda Bernardi is going to be speaking at the event.

Until very recently Linda was Chief Innovation Officer at IBM. Her passion is disruption and innovation. A serial Tech entrepreneur. In 2001 she founded her startup in Cambridge which enabled the mass adoption of  RFID & IoT (sold to Oracle). Second startup sold to IBM  in 2014.  Her technology passions are: AI, Machine Learning, IoT, the Future Connected World.

She is a tech investor & board member. Her first book ProVoke (best seller), discusses the Culture of Innovation and Disruption. Her next book discussing the connected world and IoT architecture will be published by MIT Press September of 2017.  Linda is also a tech columnist with Washington Post. She is founding member of the Anita Borg Institute & Grace Hopper Celebration, board member of The SETI Institute in Astronomy, and a strong advocate for meaningful progress for women in leadership.

Linda is a wicked proud Armenian Iranian AmericanGlobal Citizen!  Learn more about Linda at her website, Linkedin, and follow her on Twitter.

Lisa Herbold – Seattle City Councilmember
Herbold1
(Photo courtesy of Councilmember Herbold)

We are so pleased to have Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold as one of the speakers at the event!

Councilmember Herbold has been a Seattle resident for 23 years and has worked on issues of access, fairness, and a commitment to a shared quality-of-life. She helped craft and pass public policy that includes Paid Sick Leave for the 190,000 Seattle workers who didn’t have it, a Rental Housing Inspection Program for 250,000 renter households, and an acclaimed criminal justice diversion program. Each of these examples of model public policy is being replicated in jurisdictions across the country.

Councilmember Herbold is a community organizer by training, and cut her teeth with Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN), a grassroots organization in New York dedicated to equal access to public services for all neighborhoods. She moved to Seattle to open an office for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). She was also an organizer for the Tenants Union.  She has served on the boards of Neighborhood House, Homestead Community Land Trust, the Tenants Union, and the Young Adult Independent Living Project.

Hadi Partovi – CEO of Code.org
Hadi Partovi(Photo and bio courtesy of Code.org)

We are delighted that Hadi Partovi will be speaking at the event!

Hadi is a tech entrepreneur and investor, and CEO of the education non-profit Code.org.  He was born in Tehran, Iran, and grew up during the Iran-Iraq war. His school did not offer computer science classes, so he taught himself to code at home on a Commodore 64. After immigrating to the United States, he spent his summers working as a software engineer to help pay his way through high school and college. Upon graduating from Harvard University with a computer science degree, Hadi pursued a career in technology starting at Microsoft where he rose into the executive ranks. He founded two startups – the first was a huge success and the second a dismal failure – and he now invests and advises other technology startups.

In 2013 Hadi and his twin brother Ali launched the education nonprofit Code.org, which Hadi continues to lead full-time as CEO. Code.org has established computer science classes in 15% of US classrooms, created the most broadly used curriculum platform for K-12 computer science, and launched the global Hour of Code movement that has reached over 100 million students.

Hadi has served as an early advisor to numerous startups including Facebook and Dropbox, and as a tech investor his portfolio also includes airbnb, Uber, Zappos, IndieGogo, Change.org, and others. Hadi also serves as a Director on the boards of TASER International and Convoy.

Lily Shababi – violinist
Lily
(Photo courtesy of Lily Shababi)

Lily Shababi is currently studying Violin Performance under PNB Concertmaster Michael Lim. Since entering the Seattle music scene Lily has been playing with Orchestra Seattle, Seattle Collaborative Orchestra and most recently with the Seattle Symphony for the Music Across Borders benefit concert (with music from all seven countries involved in the immigration ban). As a first generation Iranian American Lily has found a recent passion in traditional Persian music and is beginning her studies with Jessika Kenney and James Falzone.

Lily is accompanied by vocalist Payten Redwood.

Payten(Photo courtesy of Payten Redwood)

Payten Redwood is a Jazz Vocalist at Cornish College of the Arts studying under Johnaye Kendrick. Payten’s vocal repertoire spans from Hip Hop to Jazz, Classical and now even Persian music. Born and raised in the Seattle area, Payten is no stranger to the culturally diverse environment that the arts scene here has to offer.

Najmieh Batmanglij – Chef and Author
Najmiehjpg
(Picture courtesy of Najmieh Batmanglij)

At the event, we are delighted to be sharing a discount on the cookbook “Happy Nowruz,” authored by the guru of Persian cuisine Najmieh Batmanglij!

Najmieh was born and raised in Iran. During her childhood, her mother wouldn’t allow her in the kitchen. “Concentrate on your education,” she would say. “There will be plenty of time for you to cook later in life.”

Najmieh came to America in the 1960s to study at university and would cook Persian food with fresh local produce using recipes sent by her mother in letters. Her housemates loved the food she made and encouraged her to cook all the more. Little did she know that the American food revolution had just begun. Later, when Najmieh returned to Iran with her master’s degree in education in hand, her mother welcomed her into the kitchen and started to work with her.

At the end of 1979, as the Iranian Revolution took a more fundamentalist turn, Najmieh and her husband fled to France, where their first son Zal was born.  It was in France that Najmieh decided to follow her passion for cooking. With the help of her friends and neighbors, she wrote her first cookbook, Ma Cuisine d’Iran. In 1983 she and her husband emigrated to America, where she gave birth to their second son, Rostam, and wrote her first book in English, “Food of Life.”

Najmieh has spent the past 35 years cooking, traveling, and adapting authentic Persian recipes to tastes and techniques in the West. She has been hailed as “the guru of Persian cuisine” by The Washington Post. Her “Food of Life” was called “the definitive book on Iranian cooking” by the Los Angeles Times. Her “Silk Road Cooking” was selected as one of the 10 best vegetarian cookbooks of 2004 by The New York Times; and her book “From Persia to Napa: Wine at the Persian Table” won the Gourmand Cookbook Award for the best wine history book of 2007.

Najmieh is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and lives in Washington, DC, where she teaches Persian cooking, and consults with restaurants around the world.

Dr. Khodadad Kaviani – author
Dr Khodi KavianiNorooz with my family
(Images courtesy of Dr. Khodadad Kaviani)

Of special interest to our younger guests at the Nowruz Festival:  We are pleased to announce an author signing event in our Education & Knowledge Corner!  Our very own local expert on the living culture of Iran, on all things Nowruz, and a children’s book author, Dr. Khodi Kiavani, will join us to sign copies of his recent children’s fiction, “Norooz With My Family.” He will also be available to answer questions about the Persian culture and this ancient tradition. Please be sure to stop by and meet him and pick up a copy as a Nowruz gift for your new-found Persian friends or as a Spring gift for a loved one!

Dr. Kaviani is an Associate Professor of Education at Central Washington University in Washington State. His area of research and teaching include Middle Eastern politics and culture, teacher education, social studies methods, and the intersections of education and ideology.

Norooz With My Family” is Dr. Kaviani’s latest illustrated book for middle schoolers and is available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.  His book “Rethinking Khayyaamism: His Controversial Poems and Vision” was published by Hamilton Books in 2014 and is available here.  Jashn-e Bahmangaan” is his latest song that highlights one of the beautiful and peaceful Iranian festival.  Access all the songs in the collection here.

Taraneh Mohajeri – singer

Taraneh(Photo courtesy of Taraneh Mojajeri)

When the call went out for musicians and singers from the Iranian-American community, we were fortunate enough to have Taraneh Mohajeri step up to represent our Persian musical heritage.

As a trained vocalist, Taraneh has focused on Persian Folk songs and has been reciting Persian poetry from an early age. Her interest in compilation of Persian poetry, and music has led her to work with a number of talented poets and musicians. She has performed in many international festivals, conferences, concerts, as well as arts and cultural programs since childhood.

Graduated from Computer Science, Taraneh is an innovative business leader with extensive experience in managing big multidisciplinary teams in several US and Canadian companies. She has been involved with the board of directors of several local, national and international programs in past decades focusing on Education, Human Rights, Refugee and Immigration services.  Taraneh lives in the Seattle area in the U.S. and advocates for a vision of peace, love, unity, service, and hope through her songs.  Hear and download her performances here and here.

Along with her friends, Paymon Elahi, Taara Elahi, and Manooch Vahdat, Taraneh plans to perform traditional and popular songs to fill City Hall with beautiful music!

(Photos courtesy of – left to right – Taara Elahi, Manooch Vahdat, and Paymon Elahi)

Taara Elahi plays the Daf, a large tambourine.  Taara is 13 years old and her first instrument is violin which she started when she was 6 years old. She has been playing daf on and off for the last two years.  She is also a competitive gymnast and a wonderful student. She speaks, writes and reads Farsi as well. Taara’s passion is art and she hopes, one day, to become a dermatologist.

Manooch Vahdat plays the Zarb, a drum.  Manooch was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, and currently resides in the beautiful Northwest. He enjoys spending time with his family, spoiling his dog, jamming with his buddies, and cooking while listening to jazz.

Paymon Elahi plays the Oud, a stringed instrument.  He is a self taught musician,  playing various musical instruments for the last 35 years.  Shortly after arriving to the US from Iran in 1976, he began playing the bass and acoustic guitars in western rock and Iranian jazz fusion music bands while growing up in southern California. This self taught passion eventually led him back to his roots and the exploration of Iranian folk music.  Paymon currently resides in Kirkland, WA with his lovely wife and their two beautiful daughters. He has been practicing medicine as a pediatrician in private practice since 1998 and considers himself privileged to provide care for children in this noble profession.

Mahnaz Kourourian EshetuExecutive Director of ReWA
Mahnaz
(photo courtesy of Mahnaz Kourourian Eshetu)

We are overjoyed to be joined by Mahnaz Kourourian Eshetu, who will be speaking at the event.

As executive director of ReWA, Mahnaz currently oversees an organization that operates from 10 sites in King County, and is comprised of 130 staff members many of whom are refugees or immigrants. They work together to deliver bilingual and bicultural services to help clients gain English and job-related skills, find employment, maintain stability, and eventually thrive in their adoptive country.

Mahnaz has also served as the past co–chair of University of Washington Business and Economic Development Center Advisory Board, board member of Community Capital Development, and past board member of Tacoma Affordable Housing Consortium.  She also held the position of Vice President–Real Estate Lending for KeyBank Community Development where she led community development lending to help build stronger communities.  Overall, Mahnaz has over 20 years of experience in community development, economic development, and higher education.

Kayla and Paniz – Dancers

image1(Paniz on left, Kayla on right)

Paniz Seyfianjoo (9 yo) has been dancing with Elham Hakimi’s Little Karouns group since 2014.  She plays piano is attending Spanish class.  Paniz enjoys making crafts and being creative, as well as roller skating  and skateboarding, and most of all, she enjoys dancing on stage.

Kayla Broumand (9 yo) has been dancing with Elham Hakimi’s Little Karouns group less than a year but has made huge improvements in her Persian classical dance!  She also plays piano, likes to bike, enjoys reading, and is in a Girls Scouts group.

onefourfive – Singers

onefourfive(Photo courtesy of onefourfive, description courtesy of JenMorrisMusic)

onefourfive is an 8-member, mixed ensemble singing (mostly) a cappella folk songs from the Republic of Georgia.  The group formally started in 2010, upon acceptance to Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival, singing exclusively Georgian folk songs.  onefourfive has continued since then, with members of the group traveling to Caucasus Georgia to learn songs, technique, styles, and of course, Georgian language and culture.  They have also worked with teachers in the US, including visiting Georgians:  Malkhaz Erkvanidze, Shergil Pirtskhelani, and Ketevan Mindorashvili and Ensemble Zedashe.  Learn more about their group here.

Reza Abassi – Calligraphist

(Photo and bio courtesy of Reza Abassi)

Mr. Reza Abbasi started learning the Iranian calligraphy in 1982 (age 12) in Iran, in a nationwide program by the Iran’s Calligraphers Institute (ICI). He passed the Moderate and Good levels in two years. He got the Excellent certificate in Nastaligh style from ICI in 1985. He started practicing in next level under Master Gholamhossein Amirkhani’s supervision shortly after. He started teaching calligraphy in 1986. In spring 1987, he got the Outstanding degree in Nastaligh and Ketabat. In summer 1987, he was one of the youngest attendees at the nationwide gathering of the all Iranian calligraphers.

Beside his engineering career, Mr. Abbasi has been eagerly doing calligraphy as a cultural activity inside and outside of Iran. He held his first teaching class in San Diego, CA, in Jan 2015.

Elham HakimiLawson – Dancer

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(Photo and bio courtesy of IACA Seattle)

We are delighted Elham Hakimi Lawson will be performing Persian dances for this Nowruz event! Elham is a proud Iranian-American who enjoys sharing her love of Persian culture and dance and finds great joy in her work as a Persian dance instructor. She joined Delshodeh Dance Ensemble in 2008, and started choreographed dancing with Heather Rastovac and Sonja Hintz, then formed that group to Karoun Dance Ensemble (a choreographed, classical Persian dance group) in 2012. She has successfully carried the name Karoun and transformed it to “Little Karouns” where she teaches the younger generation, traditional dance style and form.

She has performed in different events such as, Seattle and Portland Iranian Festival, Folk Life Festival, Seattle Benaroya Hall and Town Hall, University of Washington, city of Bellingham, and Vancouver BC.

She is also a volleyball player, coach & referee, and also plays Dulcimer (Santur) – a Persian musical instrument and loves to help others. She has been working in Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center since 2005 and loves her job.

Payam Khodaei – Pianist

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We are so thrilled to feature one of our very own community stars, Payam Khodaei, as part of our entertainment lineup for this Nowruz Event! Even with over 70 students and a full time commitment to his studies at university, this talented musician answered the call to proudly represent his community. We look forward to your performance, Payam!

Payam is a 23 year old graduate student at the University of Washington pursuing his degree in Pharmaceutical Bioengineering. In addition to his love for medicine, he has a deeper passion towards music. He began playing the piano from the age of 3 and started composing when he was 9 years old. Over the next few years he grew to be a state awarded composer and his passion for music just continued to grow. Five years ago, Payam began his own music school and since then his students have ranked 1st place in statewide competitions and have also been awarded nationally.

Misha Zadeh – Designer

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We are ecstatic to present the lovely Iranian-American designer behind our festive and cheery event “face” – Misha Zadeh.  Misha is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator from Seattle. She is best known for her stationery line, Turquoise Creative, her bold and colorful posters for the Seattle Iranian Festival, and vibrant illustrations for University Village. She enjoys creating work that makes people happy. She has been a champion for Persian cultural events and local children’s causes and lives in Ballard with her husband and two boys. She tends to end bios by mentioning her obsession with Ghormeh Sabzi.  Join her mailing list to see her latest news, and be sure to follow her on Instagram where she posts new art frequently.

We asked and she graciously agreed to help us get our event on it’s feet with a beautiful image in her signature style – simple, cheerful elegance.

We also have to brag: Our Misha’s poster submission was selected for the “Hear Our Voice” traveling exhibit that kicked off in Seattle, in February, at the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) and will travel around the country.  The exhibit is in collaboration with The Amplifier foundation which partnered with the Women’s March in a public call for art.

Nadir Kianersi – Designer
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We are honored and thrilled to collaborate, once again, with local freelance designer and illustrator Nadir Kianersi, who originally designed our SISCA logo.  Nadir has beautifully incorporated the elements of the Nowruz centerpiece-the “Haftsin”, with a nod to our Persian miniature and Zoroastrian heritage and the elements of nature, so integral to this celebration, topping it off by creating a warm embrace with those components around an iconic Seattle landmark – the Space Needle. Nadir has masterfully encapsulated our message of Celebrating Nowruz in our American Culture with this visual rendition of our event.

Nadir works and lives in Seattle.  He specializes in Architectural Visualization but sometimes, to break the mold, he likes to pick challenges that are out of the ordinary.  Come and meet this local artist and talented Iranian-American in person at the Nowruz in Seattle event!

Organizations joining us

We are grateful for the opportunity that Seattle City Hall has given us to share this festival with the Greater Seattle Community.

Sponsors supporting this event

We extend our hearty thanks to our sponsors for their incredible generosity in helping sponsor this event.

Cherry Street Coffee House
cherry street logo(logo and description courtesy of Cherry Street Coffee House)

Cherry Street Coffee House is a family owned and operated business that has been serving the Seattle community since 1997.  In addition to great coffee and distinct food, Cherry Street’s biggest focus is developing a genuine sense of community through the relationships they foster with their customers. Cherry Street Coffee House works towards elevating the neighborhoods surrounding their cafes, and the City of Seattle, by providing a place where no one is a stranger, conversation encouraged, and every day starts with “Good Morning”.

Iranian American Community Alliance (IACA)
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(Logo and description courtesy of IACA)

The Iranian American Community Alliance (IACA) is a Seattle-based, non-profit, non-religious, and non-political organization, working to unite, strengthen, and mobilize the Iranian American community and serve the greater Seattle area.  They are a cultural and community based organization focused on cultural and educational programs, like the Seattle Iranian Festival, and youth and leadership development through community service.

With a passion to build bridges within and between communities, the IACA desires not only to serve the Iranian American community but also their neighbors in the greater Seattle community. Embracing values of diversity, unity, and solidarity, the IACA teams with other reputable organizations and strives to make a positive impact in the lives of all of their brothers and sisters.

Flyers and Posters

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Download image: Flyer – 8.5 x 11

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Download image: Poster – 11 x 17

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Download image: Mini flyer – color

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Download image:  Mini flyer – b/w

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