British Columbia

Leaping over flames, Persian community celebrates new year in West Vancouver

Tens of thousands of people piled into Ambleside Park Tuesday night to begin celebrating Norooz, the Persian new year.

Lovely weather means big turnout for long-running West Vancouver event

A man helps a young girl safely leap over the bonfires at the 2019 Nowruz celebrations in West Vancouver.

A West Vancouver beach was glowing with fire Tuesday night as the Persian community began celebrating the new year.

Tens of thousands of people piled on the sand at Ambleside Park for the annual celebration of Nowruz, the Persian new year, with event attendees leaping over small fires. 

The community says it's also seen as a way to mark the beginning of spring.

Organizers say twice as many people came out compared to last year and, unlike last year, the weather co-operated for this fire festival.

A young woman leaps across the bonfires at Ambleside Park. (CBC)

"This event is growing so fast on an annual basis," said Davood Ghavami, president of the Iranian-Canadian Congress.

The District of West Vancouver stated this is the 29th year an official Nowruz celebration has been held in the community.

The West Vancouver crowd was also treated to performances of Iranian music. (CBC)

Revellers were treated to plenty of food and Iranian music, along with the fire jumping, a symbolic gesture to start fresh in the new year.

"It's just purification," Ghavami explained. "Purify the last year versus the year that's coming. People try to purify themselves."

Davood Ghavami, president of the Iranian-Canadian Congress, says the fires are about purification. (CBC)

With files from Zahra Premji

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