Yesterday afternoon IKWRO held a party to celebrate Nowruz (or Newroz in Kurdish) – the Persian New Year.

By 2 o’clock our office was full of women young and old who had come to eat, drink and dance together.  We served fruit and traditional Iranian pastries and played music all afternoon.  One woman brought a hot dish of lamb and dolma (vine leaves stuffed with rice).  Another brought all the components for Haft Sin, a traditional table setting (pictured above) which is used to celebrate the Persian New Year.

Haft Sîn includes seven specific items starting with the letter S: sabzeh (wheat, barley or lentil sprouts, symbolizing rebirth), samanu (a sweet pudding made from wheat germ symbolizing affluence), senjed (the dried fruit of the oleaster tree symbolizing love), sīr (garlic, symbolizing medicine), sīb (apples which symbolise beauty and health), sumac berries symbolizing sunrise and serkeh (vinegar which symbolises age and patience).

Normally women visit our office when they are going through trauma, but yesterday all of the women who came were smiling and happy – the way they should be.  They are all women whom IKWRO has worked with in the past – survivors of forced marriage, domestic violence, ‘honour’ based violence and other forms of abuse.  It was wonderful to look around the room and to see all of them proudly dressed in their best clothes, laughing, talking and sharing.  It reminds us of why we do this work, and inspires us to do even more for women this year.

IKWRO wishes a very happy new year to all of the women we’ve worked with over the years.  May 2011 bring you happiness, peace and prosperity.

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