March 20th 2019, marks the spring equinox, and therefore, the ancient festivity of “Nowruz”, celebrated by millions of people around the world as the beginning of new year. Nowruz celebrations, which date back to more than 3000 years ago, are observed by people of many different ethnic and racial groups, from the Uyghur community in China, to different majority and minority communities in Iran, to various communities in the Balkans. This non-religious festivity is a celebration of renewal of the earth with its ceremonies mostly centered around nature and community. Marking the first day of the first month of the Iranian calendar, Nowruz is also widely known as “The Persian New Year”.
In the past couple of years, it has become a tradition for Iranian state officials, AND, ironically enough, the White House to address the Iranian people with their “Nowruz messages” in a one-way conversation. These messages, though rather unofficial, tend to be political statements on the relationship between Iran and the United States which determine lives of millions of people in the following year.
This year, a community of Iranian youth who have created a platform for connecting Iranians to non-Iranians through travel narratives, has taken the initiative to transfer a message to the international community through their own voice. “See You in Iran” is an economic, social, and cultural travel platform, both physical and online, which aims to intervene in the common imaginations of Iran. This community which initially started in 2015 as a Facebook group that encouraged members to publicise their personal narratives of Iran, expanded into a hostel and a cultural house as an embodiment of the virtual community for creating face-to-face connections in 2017. Here comes the message in the form of a video clip:
“In the recent past, politicians released videos on Nowruz, addressing the people in Iran in a one-way conversation. Our message is for people around the world to avoid politicians from speaking on our behalf. Share this video if this is your message. Happy Nowruz!”