Sehaty Foreign Exchange

Wondering in Sydney

By Abbas Imani
Sydney, Australia

I was wondering what Charshanbeh Souri would be like close to the Opera House here in Sydney. How would it feel in a foreign country?

I locked the car and went down the steps toward the Circular Quey. That night about 8:30, the center of Sydney was less hectic than usual. Most people had gone home. The area was becoming Persianized more and more as I moved toward the Opera House.

I wondered if I had been late for the ceremony. I got closer and closer. When I was finally there, the ceremony was almost over. But Iranians were still there and that was why I wanted to be there.

I remember I always hated Charshanbeh Souri at home in Iran. It looked silly to me, especially the fire crackers, which always annoyed the older people. And I especially hated those dangerous feshfeshes as they always caused trouble.

But here in Australia, the occasion had brought all Iranians to one place. The sound of music was in the air and a group of teenagers were dancing and hooting and taking turns to jump over the fire.

A fight broke out in one corner. My guess was that the fight was a "namoosi" one -- somebody had insulted someone's woman. Things got under control when others intervened.

People were warned not to throw fire crackers or else city officials would not let the ceremony be held next year. But once in a while a moving bright object flew over the crowd and made some people run away when it hit the ground.

I noticed a small number of women with head scarves in one corner. I had always seen other immigrants from Turkey and Lebanon attending national ceremonies regardless of their religious beliefs. But I had always wondered about Iranian immigrants. My curiosty was now partially satisfied.

After seeing some friends and chatting with them I decided to go home. As I was leaving, I noticed people making ta'rof and asking strangers if they needed a lift, or if they would join them for dinner, etc.

When I sat in my car, I heard no more Persian words and saw no Iranians. Only Aussies with their Aussie accent. I wondered how noisy my city back in Iran would be at that very moment, with the sound of fire crackers and feshfeshes.


Charshanbeh Souri is a traditional Iranian ceremony held on the last Tuesday evening of the year. People make bon fires and jump over them, celebrating the end of winter and the coming of the new year on the first day of spring.

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Last Updated: 11-May-96
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