Mon | Jan 27, 2020

Toronto festival highlights Iranian culture, food

Published:Sunday | August 11, 2019 | 12:32 AM


Traditional dance, theatre and music, a colourful puppet show, and beloved food dishes from back home in Iran.

They were all on display as more than 160,000 people — most of them Iranians from Canada and the US — attended the Tirgan Festival on the Lake Ontario waterfront in Toronto, coordinators said.

The festival, held every two years, took place late last month. For four days, those in attendance heard traditional music, tasted traditional Iranian cuisine, and viewed handicrafts and paintings as well as attended plays and film screenings. More than 200 artists, scholars, and guest speakers took part in more than 140 programmes, organisers said.

The event aims to preserve and celebrate Iranian and Persian culture, said festival CEO Mehrdad Ariannejad. Among those who attended were second- and third-generation immigrants, many of whom have never been to Iran or haven’t been there since leaving the country following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Platform of expression

Ariannejad said organisers wanted to create a platform for Iranian artists and intellectuals to express themselves and create a dialogue with other cultures in Canadian society.

“As an ancient civilization, we want to help the advancement of humanity in the world and contribute to the enrichment of art and culture globally,” he said.

The festival took place amid heightened animosity between Iran and the US, which has sought to apply what President Donald Trump calls “maximum pressure” on the Islamic republic, including through harsh economic sanctions.

Britain said on Monday that it would join a US-led naval security mission in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran’s seizure of merchant vessels has raised tensions with the West.