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Exploring Kanoon: Atlanta’s Premier Persian Cultural Center

The Kanoon Persian Cultural Center is a testament to Gwinnett’s Persian population’s rich heritage and community spirit. The center also offers a diverse range of events and activities that showcase the beauty of Persian culture to its members and the wider community.

Preserving Persian heritage

In 1935, Persia changed its name to Iran, but its cultural connection to its Persian heritage remains evident. Iranian culture continues to reflect its deep Persian roots in various aspects, such as language, literature, art, music and traditions.

At its core, Kanoon is driven by a mission to preserve and promote Persian culture while fostering unity and understanding within the community.

“We are a cultural-social non-profit organization registered as a 501(c)(3) charity organization since 1989. Our mission is to promote Persian culture and foster intercultural understanding,” shared President of the Board of Directors Shahryar Heydari.

Unlike many cultural organizations, Kanoon operates independently of any political or religious affiliations, ensuring its focus remains squarely on celebrating Persian heritage.

“Our main goals are to enhance solidarity among Iranians and promote Iranian culture, art and literature,” said Heydari.

This commitment to inclusivity and openness has made Kanoon a beloved institution among Atlanta’s Persian population.

Situated at 3146 Reps Miller Rd, Kanoon is conveniently located near Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Historic Norcross.

A vibrant calendar of events

Throughout the year, Kanoon hosts an exciting array of events catering to various interests and tastes.

“We focus on two broad categories: cultural and social activities. We offer a diverse range of events, including weekly lectures, monthly poetry sessions, literature discussions and music recitals. We also organize Iranian festivals, music concerts, theatrical performances and Persian language classes for all ages. All of our events are open to the public to promote understanding and appreciation of Persian culture.” Heydari shared.

One of the most anticipated events on the Kanoon calendar is the annual Nowruz celebration. Heydari provided insight into the diverse Nowruz festivities, highlighting four main events.

The Nowruz Bazaar, held at Norcross High School on March 10, was a lively marketplace where visitors immersed themselves in Persian culture. Crafted by local artisans, handmade goods and treats were available for purchase.

“This event provided businesses with the opportunity to sell their products and services. It was a place to find anything from handmade crafts, foods and household products,” said Heydari.

Live music and dance performances contributed to the authentic atmosphere, making it a memorable experience for all attendees.

This year, Chaharshanbe Suri was celebrated at Kanoon. The celebration featured bonfires, and participants lept over flames, invoking blessings for the year ahead.

“On the eve of the last Wednesday of the (Persian) year, the eve of Red Wednesday, bonfires are lit in public places with the help of fire and light. It is for enlightenment and happiness throughout the coming year. People leap over the flames, shouting: ‘Give me your beautiful red color, and take back my sickly pallor!’” Heydari shared.

This year, the event took place on March 12. Over 1,000 people attended, enjoying Persian cuisine such as kabobs, “Osh” stew and pastries, accompanied by music and dancing near the crackling bonfires.

The third Norwuz celebration, which marked the dawn of the Iranian solar year in style, took place on March 22 in the grand ballroom of the Westin Perimeter Hotel.

“Nowruz is the first day of the Iranian solar year, translated literally as ‘New Day.’ Since the Achaemenid era in 12 B.C., the official year has begun with the New Day. It is when the sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox,” said Heydari.

“This year, we celebrated with a live performance by Iranian musician Hamid Talebzadeh, who is well-known for playing Iranian folk music. There were also dance performances by our Persian School dancers and a gourmet dinner,” recalled Heydari.

On the 13th day of the Persian New Year, families leave their houses and head for the outdoors. This also marks the end of the Nowruz break.

“Families come together to eat, play games and celebrate a happy and healthy holiday season,” Heydari said. This is the day of the Atlanta Persian Festival.

The Atlanta Persian Festival was established in 2013 by the Persian Cultural Center of Atlanta.

The goal is to introduce Persian culture to the people of Atlanta through Persian music, food, dance or other cultural activities. The annual Persian Festival took place on April 7 at Piedmont Park. More than 10,000 people attended the event.

Whether you’re a longtime member of the Persian community or simply curious about Persian culture, there’s always something happening at Kanoon.

Educational initiatives and community outreach

Kanoon offers a range of educational initiatives aimed at its members and the wider community. These efforts align with the center’s mission to promote understanding and appreciation of Persian culture.

These initiatives include language classes, cultural workshops and academic lectures, all of which are designed to give attendees a deeper understanding of Persian history, art and traditions.

In addition to its educational programming, Kanoon actively engages with the broader community through various outreach initiatives.

“Our professional organization committee, the Professional Organization of Iranian Americans (POOA), helps attract members of the broader community. This is also true of our student organization, the Persian School, and the senior center at Kanoon. We do this through English lectures, networking opportunities for students and professionals, Persian language classes, concerts and art exhibits,” said Heydari.

These initiatives include partnerships with local schools and community organizations, as well as sponsorship opportunities for businesses and individuals looking to support Kanoon’s mission.

How to get involved

Are you interested in joining the Kanoon community? There are many ways to get involved, from attending events and volunteering to becoming a member or sponsor.

“We invite the community to support our efforts through membership and attendance,” Heydari said.

Membership benefits include discounted admission to events, access to members-only programming and the opportunity to participate in the organization’s governance.

For those looking to support Kanoon’s mission without becoming members, sponsorship opportunities are available at various levels. Whether you’re a business looking to reach a diverse and engaged audience or an individual looking to make a difference in your community, there’s a sponsorship opportunity that’s right for you.

“We encourage businesses to become corporate members of Kanoon. We include their logos and links in our weekly newsletters, as well as our website under corporate sponsors,” Heydari shared.

Celebrating culture, building community

Kanoon leaves a profound mark on the community through its efforts to preserve Persian heritage and promote cultural awareness. It fosters dialogue, offers educational programs and facilitates networking opportunities. Additionally, it supports older adults and organizes charity events for community welfare.

Whether you’re a member of the Persian community or simply someone who loves to explore new cultures, Kanoon welcomes you with open arms. Join in celebrating the rich heritage and vibrant spirit of Persian culture at Kanoon Persian Cultural Center.

Written By

Kristen Corley is an Atlanta native with over a decade of experience in content creation. She lives in Historic Norcross with her family and writes "Young Norcross," a weekly newsletter that focuses on building community and local engagement.

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