Editor's Note: This article has been updated with additional information to correct a factual error. Junior Yasmine Amin is majoring in information systems management.

A previous version of this article stated that Amin was majoring in information sciences management.

The South End regrets the errors.

Wayne State campus community members are adjusting to celebrating Nowruz, the Persian new year, as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The holiday customarily involves social gatherings with family and friends, including playing games, eating traditional Persian meals, and visiting relatives’ houses or holding parties. This year, Nowruz was held on March 20.

Junior information systems management major Yasmine Amin said the holiday represents an important part of Iranian culture.

“Nowruz really means a lot to me because I get to learn so many new things about it every year and we get to celebrate different traditions,” Amin said.

Niloofar Didar is a third-year graduate student from Tehran, Iran. She said she had a Nowruz party with friends, which included a meal she prepared and games.

“This year I was the host and that was my first year being host of my friends,” Didar said. “I set (the) Haftseen, I cooked delicious Iranian food and I invited my close friends to my house.”

Didar said this was an improvement from previous pandemic celebrations, where she had to gather outdoors with limited groups of friends.

Amin said she used to attend Nowruz parties in the local area, including at Iranian restaurants. However, she said she hasn’t been able to attend any since the pandemic began.

“The biggest thing I would like to see is those Nowruz parties getting started up again so we can see everyone in the community and continue celebrating the culture,” she said.

Nowruz has a cultural significance for Iranians living abroad, Didar said.

“Nowruz is a cultural tradition that reminds you that you need to gather together, see your relatives, have a great time with them, feel good memories and appreciate that feeling,” she said.

Amin said celebrating Nowruz is an important way to recognize her identity.

“I think it’s important to have the connection (to Nowruz and Persian culture) so I don’t forget about it because I feel like living in America, we slowly forget what it means to be a part of a religion or a culture or an ethnicity and I think it’s important to keep those roots so you don’t forget who you are,” Amin said.

Didar said celebrating Nowruz in Iran involves more community gatherings and it can be difficult to celebrate virtually with relatives.

“You cannot see them physically and you miss them so much and sometimes if you are in your country (Iran) you see all people are feeling something about the (Persian) new year,” she said.

Office of Multicultural Student Engagement Interim Director Stephanie Hawkes said the office doesn’t currently offer programming for Nowruz, but hopes to in the future.

“As much as we would like to try to recognize all culturally significant holidays and celebrations, we are a small office and can’t always do that. We are currently a team of two,” Hawkes said. “As our office expands, we can work to collaborate with others across campus to be able to program more broadly. In the meantime, we always welcome collaborations with faculty, staff, and students on events to help broaden our impact.”

Didar said she typically gets Nowruz email greetings from College of Engineering Dean Farshad Fotouhi, who is of Iranian descent.

“(T)o share that happiness and good news of our new year with us and I like that, I appreciate that, how he cares about all of us as Iranians,” she said.

Amin said WSU should do more to support students of Iranian descent.

“I don’t think it matters how many people are in the (campus) community, it’s a culture that should be recognized,” she said.

Amin is currently working to set up WSU’s first student organization for Iranian students. Didar said she is looking forward to seeing this organization formed.

Students interested in getting involved with the upcoming Persian Student Organization can contact Amin at gw8373@wayne.edu.

Jenna Prestininzi is the editor-in-chief of The South End. She can be reached at editorinchieftse@gmail.com.

Cover photo of Haftseen display provided by Yasmine Amin.