Montgomery County's Iranian community celebrates spring
Thousands gather for picnic in Boyds to mark Sizdah Bedar
For Montgomery County's Iranian community, spring has arrived.
About 4,500 people picnicked Sunday at Black Hill Park in Boyds to celebrate Sizdah Bedar, a holiday marked on the 13th day after the Iranian new year and meant to get rid of the unlucky number 13.
Traditionally, Sizdah Bedar marks the conclusion of the Iranian new year, Nowruz, and the beginning of spring. Iranians celebrate the holiday by going outside with family and friends, drinking a traditional Iranian noodle and vegetable soup called aush, and tying knots of grass together for good luck.
The Iramerican Civic Society of Washington hosted the event in Boyds, said Mina Rezvani, president of the society. The event lasts from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but people arrived at the park as early as 6:30 a.m. to set up tents and blankets.
"I'm so glad this is a cultural connection to the world," Rezvani said.
Ferrah Pourahmadi, a volunteer at the event, said weather is never an obstacle.
"They come in rain," Pourahmadi said. "They come in sun. They come in hail."
Many families sat in tents or lawn chairs; others lay on blankets spread across the ground. Some grilled food and drank hot tea from thermoses. A vendor sold Persian food, like ground beef and chicken kabobs with basmati rice.
Mash Eslami of Germantown sat on a lawn chair with family during the festival. His group of about 30 people had set up a wall of chairs and tents in a circle with blankets spread in the middle. Eslami and his family come to the festival every year.
"If you don't see your family throughout the year, this is the one time of year you get to see everyone," Eslami said.