Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival is celebrated in 11 countries. Not many know who has started celebrating Nowrooz and when or why. Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, the epic book of kings, is the only book that dates Nowrooz back to the time of Jamshid the Pishdaadi king who ruled in Iran about 5000 years ago. It is so important for Iranians to celebrate Nowruz gloriously and get together,as well as knowing about its origin, meaning and social-cultural values.
This upcoming Nowruz we have the privilage of enjoying a special Naqqali performance as Neda-afarid (Saghi) Aghili, whom has been called by her master Morshed Davoud Fathalibeygi “the best living Iranian female naqqal”has recently moved with her professional naqqals of Naqqali Centre to Toronto.
Neda-afarid is the first Iranian female naqqal who has done naqqali in English and is one of the naqqals who in 2011 have registered naqqali as Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in UNESCO, and is acknowledged by it as one of the prominent preservers and promoters of naqqali. Neda-afarid has performed in tens of provincial, national and international festivals. She is also a professional actor who has acted in the stage performances, TV series and films such as Bahram Beyzaie’s Arash and Straw Curtain (Parde-ye Neyee),Ebrahim Hatamikia’s Da’vat, Morteza Harandi’s Parvin Etesami, Hossein Moheb Ahari’s Acacia Alley, Majid Jafari’s Love Now, Shokrekhoda Goodarzi’s Red Silk Pine, Davoud Fathalibeygi’s Bald Hero and Dragonand Hasani and Mobarak, and Hossein Saharkhiz’s Women’s World.
Neda-afarid is currently performing naqqali with his son Arash (Ali) Farhadipour who has been a naqqal for more than 15 years, and has two master’s,one in Theatre Directing from Tarbiat Modares University of Tehran and another in Film Studies from Carleton University of Ottawa. Arash has taught in Carleton University and is an expert in the history of naqqali, Audience Studies and creating successful theatre performances, films and presentations. Arash has worked as dramaturge, director’s assistant, and actors’ director in notable performances such as Bahram Beyzaie’s Arash, Salandar and Straw Curtain (Parde-ye Neyee), and Davoud Fathalibeygi’s The Puppet’s Secret. Arash has also worked as playwright, director, naqqal and actor in naqqali and theatre performances for which he has been awarded such as: Sohrab & Gordafarid, Rostam & Sohrab, Siavash The Refugee,The Sorrow of Love, Witnesses’ Stand, and Cries and Whispers.