Culture is our only Weapon

Culture is the implicit and explicit manifestation of our shared values,ideas, believes, and heritage.  Our Iranian culture or better to say our Persian culture has always been part of what we do, how we think, how we behave, and how we feel. After three decades of living in paradoxes, we Iranian are learning gradually to respect our shared culture with celebrating it proudly. We are learning to let go of our personal biased opinions and ideas while instead just enjoy being part of a greater truth, the truth of co-existing with the universe.
We Iranian are conceptualizing our own history with baby steps and learning to appreciate our past instead of condoning. We Iranian are aware of the need for a change; however, this change has to happen within us; each one of us.  This is a unique historic period we do find ourselves in, we are shifting, experiencing, forming, and reforming our culture and out identity. We have to be brave to accept this stage of pre-contemplation and the transfer to contemplation level of change. Change is about discovering of a healthy identity, a sense of belonging, and a sense of partnership with other people who happen to live on the same planet as us.
After three decades and chapters of life in migration, experiences of dissociation and trauma of dislocation, now we are sincerely noticing our own culture, something that has been passed down to us for over two thousand year; The culture of celebrations and appreciations of health, happiness, and prosperity.

The cultural attitudes that we have been passing unnoticed, are now crossing the intersections of our Iranian lives.

The culture of respect and love for our nature is part of what we celebrate as Nouroz; the love for rain, for sun shine, for fire, for water, and for mother earth.
We Iranian experience our culture more than ever; at least this is true for us in Vancouver, British Columbia. We should be grateful for the level of acknowledgment of our shared culture, the Persian culture that has survived and will survive all the attacks of those who blindly are opposing it.
We are now noticing that the only weapon we have is our culture. We need this weapon to fight the darkness that the enemies of happiness try to cover us with. We have got only our culture to survive with, to be part of the future, and to continue endlessly.

These months of February-March 2008 we have been witness of several cultural events on the North Shore.

We may agree that all these gatherings of our Iranian population symbolized the notion of dignity, cultural appreciation, and respectful maneuvers for our various ethnical groups. This gathering for no means represent a culture as the Persian culture, however it is part of the greater context, the survival based need for a culture to express itself through its audience.

International Women’s day Celebration
A grass root community group of hard working women and men put together a beautiful event on February 29, 2008. Tickets for this event were sold out long before the tickets got to the stores. The enormous Kay Meek Center in West Vancouver was the place where Iranian women and men had the opportunity to validate, to acknowledge, and to appreciate Iranian women and women around the world. Programs were well-planned and the whole event was the real proof for the strength of a culture that has been under attack for centuries. The planning committee of this event inspired us for open and healthy discussions about what is the most important aspect of being Iranian; the sense of encouragement that we have lacked before for those millions of women who suffer the most.
This group who are now registered as a non profit organization named Iranian women Cultural Society is the first official women group here in British Columbia.

Royal Bank Financial Group Gala for the Iranian Nouroz

March 17 of 2008, Centennial Theater in North Vancouver was the place for a large group of Iranian who were invited to celebrate Iranian new years. The invitation came from the Royal Bank of Canada Financial Group. This event was an exceptional acknowledgment of our Iranian business men and women who trust RBC as their financial institution. The sense of appreciation and recognition of who we are was not only about RBC customers, but also was about us as Iranian who share our life with the Canadian community. The regional president of RBC opened the ceremony and called upon us: the valued customers. It was at that moment when my mind fled to another world. If our own Iranian government has purposefully made the concept of life as a miserable ground for its citizens, everywhere we Iranian are, outside of our home country we are being appreciated for the hard working and creative group of people we indeed are.
This event had a clear message, that we as Iranian should value our Persian heritage and our culturally significant Iranian new year. The beautiful musical show and live performance by Pars National Ballet made all of us to catch our breath and go back to those years of aid in Iran. I was most grateful to experience the huge need for feeling a community feeling. This feeling happened because of Royal Bank of Canada.

Ambleside Fire Jumping, West Vancouver

The bus driver from down town Vancouver knew where people were going people who were getting to West Vancouver by bus did not need to explain much or even ask for direction. The bus driver was telling them that yes the fire jumping is happening at Ambleside and he would let people know
which bus station to take off. At the bus young fellow Iranian as well as some middle age people were excited to get to the Ambleside park. One lady was explaining the event of the chahar-shanbe-Sori to one gentleman on the bus who could sense the excitement in the air.
People in general could sense something exciting happening, the bus toward west Vancouver not the same. The Chahar-shanbe-Sori happening on the last Tuesday evening before the Iranian year. This is the time of the year that we appreciate fire and asks the fire to offer us its healthy look, its warmth, and its strength. We ask the fire for enlightenment and health. Fire has a significant meaning for us Iranian and the event of this red Wednesday is thousand year old. This evening was the live play where many of our Iranian population were the characters. We came out to jump over fire and to say that we are still
alive. We came out to say that our culture is alive and will be alive. This gathering was the perfect proof that a culture can not be killed; a culture is alive once people stand on their two feet.
This gathering happened in harmony, peace, and congruency. This play was artfully directed and organized by people who love the life, who are alive, and who will not fall for extremism. People stayed and waited in line up to jump over fires that were placed in a special protected area of the park. The line ups were authentic and respectful.
The line up was expressive, articulative, and communicative. The line up had a body language, a non-verbal language, and a silent acknowledgment of what is the most important; our culture of joy who will not fall for darkness of those who will destroy our culture with the name of god. Young children as well as elderly people all jumped over or only walked over that fire while wishing health and happiness of the fire. People enjoyed themselves in the line ups for delicates such as kebab and soup ; ashe restheh. West Vancouver Police was for years in row standing there watching these groups of Iranian laughing and talking with one another Representatives for Stephan Harper, Mayors of West and North Vancouver, and all other authorities came to join our Iranian celebration and offer us good wishes for our new Iranian year. We may wish that we will be having these joyful celebrations one day in our home country without fear of punishment.

May god bless our people and our culture and bring peace in our home country as well as around the world.  We have a lot to say and to do, we have a culture to pass down to our children.  May god guide us in this matter.
Poran Poregbal
March 19,2008