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Iranian festival rocks park blocks

The second annual Iranian festival rocked the South Park Blocks on Saturday, Aug. 4 with authentic food, dance, fashion and music performances celebrating the diversity of the Persian-Iranian community.

The event was co-sponsored by the Portland based Andisheh center and various cultural/educational organizations and corporations such as the Middle East Studies Center at PSU and Washington Mutual Bank.

The Iranian festival showcases Iranian art and culture, cuisine, music as well as businesses and organizations that specifically target and/or serve the Persian-Iranian communities of greater Portland, the state of Oregon and southwest Washington.

“We’re hoping to introduce a little bit of Iranian and Persian culture to the community. Through events like this, we desire to show how non-Iranian and Persian-Iranian culture are similar,” Andisheh Center board member Hamid Habibi said.

The festival centered on a theme of education and unity, and boasted a food court with traditional Iranian dishes, a soccer tournament, exhibits featuring various provinces that make up the Islamic republic of Iran and a tribute tent honoring the life of Iranian cultural expert and scholar Terence O’Donnel.

Iran, formerly known as Persia until 1935, has been an Islamic republic since 1979. Since that time, the nation, which lies in the Middle East and is bordered by the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan, has been in the midst of wars and disputes with both neighboring nations and modern western ideology.

The Andisheh Center is a nonprofit organization serving people of Iranian descent and individuals with an interest in Iranian culture in the greater Portland area. Founded in 1997, the center has a mission of helping the [Portland] community to come together with all their differences in gender, religion, nationality, personal attributes and social or political beliefs.

Other highlights of the event included a traditional Persian-Iranian “Kurdish dance,” which involves a group of people moving in unison to a very energetic and high beat, booths featuring a silent auction and raffle, authentic Persian-Iranian jewelry, hand made Persian rugs as well as information on the sponsoring organizations and a live traditional Iranian music performance.

“I participated in last year’s event after hearing about it on KBOO’s Persian Art and Music program. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to get involved with this year’s festival,” Iranian festival volunteer Omid Elmi said.

Individuals who wish to find out more information about how they can become a member of the Andisheh Center or volunteer for any of the organization’s events, can do so by visiting the center’s Web site,

“I encourage anyone who’s interested in becoming a member of the Andisheh center to check it out. It’s a good experience,” Elmi said.