On Friday, April 22 I attended what is called ‘Khayyam Day’, a little celebration hosted by the Iranian Cultural Association at the University of Oklahoma to welcome the marble statue of 11th century Iranian philosopher, mathematician, poet and astronomer.
The two hour event included modern Iranian music, a renowned Persian calligrapher, a speech giving the history of the statue, and delicious Persian food.
There was a lot to say about Khayyam, a man who until that day I hadn’t any knowledge of. He was a great poet and philosopher, one who hated violence and sought self-enlightenment. The statue itself was created by a sculptor in the Lorestan Province of Iran, with marble from Iran itself. The statue took over 3 years to complete and find the marble for, because the master sculptor wanted it to be perfect and to represent the Iranian culture as much as possible.
The historian speaking emphasized how the statue like a symbol of a hand being extended to the American people, a hand seeking partners to be friends with Americans. The makers and senders of the statue wants the United States people and the world to understand that they too are like Khayyam, and hate violence. The speaker ended with a hope that that hand be extended back.
Now for the food:
The food was both scary and exciting! On the top left are stuffed grape leaves, a dish familiar to me as they are one of my Armenian grandmothers favorites. Another familiar dish is baklava, a sweet pastry filled with simple syrup and walnuts. The pita bread was familiar as well.
Something that I had never tried before were tried dates. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I had no idea how to eat them! So I resorted to eating around the seed… it was delicious and very gooey. The wafer cookie was familiar to me as well!
My favorite thing on the plate was the potato salad. It was a mashed potato mixture with peas, relish, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and olives. I wish I had gotten more it was so good!!!
Overall, it was exciting and intimidating to be exposed to a new culture like that. It makes me excited for my study abroad adventures in the future.
The speech and the statue made me think of what is happening on the international stage, how the globe is looking at Iran right now after the Iran nuclear deal a couple of months ago. It made me reflect how the government one lives under doesn’t represent the citizens, and of how around the world there are people who live under governments that do corrupt things, and in turn are given sanctions and restrictions that harm the people more than the rich government officials.