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Students share their culture with Assyrian New Year event
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Officers of the Pitman High Assyrian-American Club gather with special guest Alex Kurkal (far left), president of the UC Merced Assyrian-American Club for a photo following the Assyrian New Year event held Wednesday. Pitman officers include Enlil Ishaya, Nathaniel Piro, Sviny Malko, Bettina Varda, Loveinya Khoshabeh, Melanie Ovrahim, Justine Piro, Jordyn Piro and advisor Isaac Farhadian (Photo courtesy of TUSD).

After a two-year hiatus, the Pitman High School Assyrian-American Club once again was able to host an Assyrian New Year event for the public to help ring in the year 6772.

Members of the club gave presentations on Assyrian history, culture, foods and language during the event held Wednesday at the Assyrian-American Civic Club in Turlock.

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Justine Piro reads a poem (Photo courtesy of TUSD).

Assyrian New Year was the biggest festival in the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. It started on March 21, which was the first day on the month (Nissan) and beginning of the New Year for the Assyrian calendar. In Assyria this festival was the most important event of the year. People from all over the Empire came to either the political capital, Nineveh or the religious capital, Babylon and participated in the celebration. After the Assyrians converted to Christianity in the first century and the Gregorian calendar was established in the Christian world, the Assyrians also accepted the new calendar and they moved their New Year from March 21 to April 1. 

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Pitman Assyrian-American Club advisor Isaac Farhadian thanks the public for attending the New Year event (Photo courtesy of TUSD).

“The whole purpose of having this event is to educate people about the culture, the history of the Assyrian people. We have a long history; it's ancient history, and we're proud to share that with everyone else. And what I'm really happy about is that the Assyrian-American Club at Pitman is not only for Assyrians, but it's open to everybody. And that's what makes it such a great organization and so successful because if we share our history, our culture, our food, our dances with everyone, we learn about them, they learn about us,” said Pitman teacher and Assyrian-American Club advisor Isaac Farhadian.

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Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak and Police Chief Jason Hedden were among the dignitaries and Turlock community members who attended Wednesday's Assyrian New Year cultural event (Photo courtesy of TUSD).

Special guests at the New Year event included Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak, Police Chief Jason Hedden, TUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Heidi Lawler and Alex Kurkal, UC Merced Assyrian-American Club President.

This event also marked the changing of officers for the Pitman club.

“The turnout was great,” said club president Enlil Ishaya. “I just want to thank again Isaac Farhadian for everything he does as our trustee and advisor. It was amazing, and I'm very glad that this happened. We had a lot of students from Pitman come who aren’t Assyrian and it just turned out to be a great event.”

— Pawan Naidu contributed to this report.