CommUNITY Barnet: Bringing Communities together27 Jun 2019
Read about the challenges and learning from CommUNITY Barnet’s Nowruz Spring Festival. A community event developed in partnership with local charities to build a stronger relationship with the Farsi speaking community in Barnet.
Persian New Year 2019 – Nowruz
Understanding people and learning about their culture is crucial to community growth and cultural events are a way to bring communities together and increase local residents’ knowledge and respect for different cultures.
CommUNITY Barnet identified Finchley (little Persia) as a geographical area that needed investment and support in developing its community infrastructure. As the programme of work developed, it was decided to create a catalyst for better partnership working with a multi-cultural celebration of Nowruz as a method to address the lack of local knowledge about the Farsi speaking community which is made up of Iranian, Kurdish, Afghan and Iraqi communities.
In partnership with Middlesex University, CommUNITY Barnet facilitated a Nowruz Spring Festival 2019 which took place at on March 10th 2019 in association with the Farsophone Association in Britain, Persia Educational Foundation, British Iranian Community Development Organisation, Paiwand, Barnet Refugee Service, Rustam School, Tarbiyat School, Sama Foundation and Razi School.
Nowruz Spring Festival
Nowruz, which means “new day” in Persian, has been celebrated for more than 3000 years. The holiday has roots in the Zoroastrian religion and marks the first day of the official Iranian calendar. Countries which celebrate Nowruz include Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Albania.
Nowruz was recognised by the United Nations (U.N.) in 2009 as a tradition of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which “promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighbourliness,” according to the U.N.
Barnet TV captured the spirit of the Nowruz Spring Festival, reporting from the festival.
The impact of Nowruz 2019 in Barnet
The event generated confidence within the different community groups, who showcased their music, dancing, food not only to the wider local community but to the younger generation of Farsi communities, passing on their traditions and intentions in a positive and creative way.
It takes time to develop trust between the different communities and the organisations that represent them. CommUNITY Barnet created a neutral platform for the different social and religious groups that make up the Farsi speaking community in Barnet and this platform will be developed further with the plans for Nowruz festival 2020.
Learning to share
There is a key importance of working practically with communities at a grassroots local level. By working collaboratively to create a multi-cultural Nowruz community event for Barnet, CommUNITY Barnet has been able to identify support areas and signposting gaps within the Farsi communities which can be brought to the attention of the Borough’s statutory bodies (LB Barnet and CCG, Public Health) to support local policy making.
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