Ada says: It is my pleasure to introduce to you Faeze who has been coming to our Social English sessions and is also a committee member of the new established Wellington Newcomers Network! Faeze and her family use the libraries a lot! She wrote the following,
I am Faeze, an Iranian 33 year old woman. I immigrated to New Zealand with my family consisting of my husband, my 7 year old daughter and my 5 and half year old son. We came here so that my husband could study for a PhD in Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington. In Iran my husband and I were lecturing at University for some 7 years.
Although I have visited four other countries New Zealand is the furthest from Iran and very interesting and foreign for me. Everything such as the culture, climate, architecture, and type of shopping is more different than I could imagine.
As an Iranian Muslim woman, I think my experience would be helpful for many newcomers to New Zealand. Being a Muslim for me means wearing Hijab, eating Halal meat, needing special toilets, and attending the Mosque some days. Fortunately, New Zealand is a democratic country and Muslim women are welcome to wear their special clothing and many do. There are two butcheries offering Halal meat to Muslims in Wellington and some chicken products are Halal. Muslims usually have special plumbing in their houses but unfortunately public toilets do not cater to this need so this restricts Muslims' use of public spaces. The only mosque in Wellington is in Kilbirnie and this serves as a gathering place for Muslims.
Most Muslims come from countries with hot climates and so feel very cold in Wellington especially in the old wooden houses. We have to adapt to the new climate.
Despite these problems I think Wellington is one of the most beautiful and clean cities I have ever seen and the people are lovely and kind. The forest and sea provide pleasant times for families on holidays and attract many tourists each year. Loving behaviour towards children and a high standard in education has made New Zealand a paradise for kids who will be educated in a safe and healthy place.
Many people ask me where I am from and often do not know a lot about Iran's history and customs. The history of civilization in Iran goes back to more than 5000 years ago. Ruins of the palace, Persepolis, in Fars Province is one of the most popular destinations for tourists from all over the world. Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. UNESCO declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Sit in 1979.
I was born in Yazd, which is of foremost importance as a centre of Persian architecture in Iran and is also one of the largest cities built almost entirely out of clay. Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also known in Iran for the high quality of its handicrafts, especially silk weaving, and its confectionary. It is also a centre of Zoroastrian culture and the city itself has a Fire Temple, which holds a fire that has been kept alight continuously since 470 AD.
Iran is not only famous for its historical places but also for its beautiful environment. Iran is a four season country meaning that while it is snowing in the Northern parts of Iran in winter, some cities in the South have pleasant spring weather. Forests in the North, Persian Gulf in the South, Desert in the centre and mountains in the West of Iran have made unique scenery for visitors to enjoy.
Iranian culture is full of festivals during the year. Nowrūz is the most famous.
Nowrūz is the name of the New Year in the Solar Hijri calendar. Nowrūz is also referred to as the Iranian or Persian New Year. Nowrūz is celebrated and observed in Iran, and has spread to many other parts of the world. In Iran, Nowrūz is an official holiday lasting for 13 days. Nowrūz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. During the Nowrūz holidays, people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated.
On the first day of Nowrūz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Haft Seen or the seven 'S's is a major traditional table setting of Nowrūz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The Haft-Seen table includes seven items starting with the letter 'S' or Sīn (س) in the Persian alphabet.
- Mirror - symbolizing Sky
- Apple - symbolizing Earth
- Candles - symbolizing Fire
- Golab - rose water symbolizing Water
- Sabzeh - wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants
- Goldfish - symbolizing Animals
- Painted Eggs - symbolizing Humans and Fertility
On the last day of Nowrūz, families pack a special picnic and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends.
To find out more:
Books about Iran
Iran / this edition written and researched by Andrew Burke, Virginia Maxwell, Iain Shearer.
The clear market leader guide to Iran - substantially longer, with better geographical coverage than the competition; Features a colour planning section; Includes detailed coverage of all key sights, including ancient Persepolis and the architectural wonders of Esfahan.
Persian art & architecture / Henri Stierlin ; photographs by Henri and Anne Stierlin and Adrien Buchet ; [translated from the French by David H. Wilson].
"According to Stierlin (Islamic Art and Architecture: From Isfahan to the Taj Mahal), the most important buildings in central Asia were built by the Persians. For purposes of this book, Stierlin describes "Persia" as an entity defined by a common language, and located between the west and far east, bordered by Mesopotamia, Transoxiana (today's Uzbekistan), and the Mongol steppes. In his analysis of Persian art between the 11th and 17th centuries, Stierlin includes architecture, illustrated manuscripts, ceramics, and miniatures." (Library Journal)
Mirrors of the unseen : journeys in Iran / Jason Elliot.
"Elliot (An Unexpected Light) traveled to Iran and returned with this finely detailed, timely portrait of a country and culture precariously balanced between East and West. Whether careening around the smog and traffic clogged capital city of Tehran in a battered cab or crawling through the rubble-strewn ruins of Persepolis, capital of the ancient Persian kings, Elliot's keen eye, supple mind and compelling way with words captures the rich, complex, contradictory essence of Iran, its history and people." (Publisher Weekly)
Black on black : Iran revisited / Ana M. Briongos ; translated by Chris Andrews.
"Tells of the author's experiences in Iran in the 1990s, and the day to day life of her friends and acquaintances, particularly in regard to the way in which they have adjusted to life after the Islamic revolution of 1979. Includes a bibliography. The author first visited Iran in the 1960s, and studied Persian at the University of Tehran in the 1970s." (Syndetics summary)
Shadows in the desert : ancient Persia at war / Kaveh Farrokh.
"The empires of ancient Persia remain as mysterious today as they were to contemporary Western scholars. Although Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia is legendary, the military successes of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sassanian empires, along with their revolutionary military technology, tactics, and culture have been almost forgotten in the sands of the East. Containing information never before published in English, Shadows in the Desert offers a comprehensive history of Persia's wars with East and West which spanned over a millennium, and offers an insight into the exchange of ideas and culture that occurred during these clashes between East and West, not only military technology, but influences in the arts, medicine, religion and science. This beautifully illustrated book delves into the rich heritage of the Persians, which was spread around the world through war and conquest, and which, after the fall of the Sassanians, continued to impact upon civilizations around the world." (Syndetics summary)
Persian pilgrimages : journeys across Iran / Afshin Molavi.
"Born in Iran and currently a resident of Washington, D.C., Molavi received a master's degree from Johns Hopkins U. School of Advanced International Studies, and has reported on Iran for Reuters and the Washington Post. His account of a year-long travel through Iran in 1999 offers readers a glance into Iran's past, present, and possible future, with unique insights into the political climate of his native land." (Book News, via Syndetics)