FOR AFGHAN IMMIGRANTS, NOWRUZ CELEBRATIONS OF SPRING ARE A TASTE OF HOME
Preserving the food traditions of the Persian New Year takes on a deepe significance for those who do not have extended Afghan communities to celebrate with. Sabira Ebaady, who refers to herself as "one of two Afghans in the state of Louisiana" (the other is her younger sister), spent many of her 10 Nowruzes in the United States alone before her sister joined her in New Orleans last year.
Their planning for Nowruz began weeks ago, when they let lentils take sprout, a tradition that serves as a physical representation of the process of rebirth. Her lentil sprouts will be the centerpiece of her Nowruz table, or haftseen, one of seven items meant to symbolize renewal. The day before the big feast, she will cook many dishes, including sebzah, a rice dish with green vegetables, which symbolize wealth and health, and the haft mewa (seven fruits) dessert.
And then, she will head outdoors to enjoy an Afghan-style picnic. It'll be less elaborate than the ones that she remembers from her childhood in Ghazni and among the refugee community in Pakistan. And rather than celebrating atop a scenic hillside, she'll instead head to a plantation outside New Orleans for the requisite picnic.