Springtime Persian Picnic with Negin
An interview with Negin Niknejad
One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in Iran was how during Norooz which is the Persian New Year, people would celebrate Spring in all its glory. This was a time where everyone would create an altar in their homes to signify the ancient Zoroastrian custom of celebrating the natural world. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. Zoroastrian theology includes a duty to protect nature which makes me very connected to the rituals. The scriptures call for the protection of water, earth, fire, air.
One of the wonderful Spring time customs that dates back to Zoroastrianism, was going to the mountains and having a Persian Picnic by a stream or river. I was thrilled when Negin Niknejad was visiting LA from NYC and suggested we tap into our Persian roots with a Norooz picnic in my garden. I have been a fan of Negin’s for some time now, since she has been working in holistic skin care for years. Her studio and skincare line Just be Skin Care, has a very devoted fan base on the East coast. She uses the traditions in Persian holistic wisdom, combined with reiki and Ayurveda to bring healing to many.
We had such a divine time eating persian feta with fresh made Persian bread, drinking fresh mint tea, reading Rumi and dancing to vintage Persian music. Negin brought so much light and sweet energy to my garden, and reminded me to water my Persian roots.
Interview with the lovely Negin below ~
1) What makes your heart sing?
Maybe this sounds silly but being in love. Being in love with life, with myself, with my friends, with the world, with my lover- all of it. I feel alive, and nothing else matter.
2) How do your Persian roots inform your beauty care line?
The Persian system of healing is very similar to Ayurveda and it too is ancient. Growing up both my mother & grandmother would tell us what foods to eat less of because they were “hot” foods and which foods not mix. And so I am able to apply some of that knowledge to my skincare line when it comes to my clients’ diet, and skin care needs.
3) What is your favorite treatment?
My facials. It’s a meditation for me, a beautiful exchange.
4) What can we do to celebrate spring in our own way if we live in a city?
Go for walks in your favorite park or scour the city for charming little gardens and go garden hopping. Gather a few friends and have a picnic. Celebrating is a big part of spring because all of us are waking up, coming back to life and experiencing a sensual rebirth and what great way to share than with friends.
5) Are you a mermaid or forest fairy?
Omg! I am definitely a mermaid. I feel so at home when I am by the water.
6) Do you have a mantra or motto you follow in times of feeling vulnerable?
That this happening because it is the best for me. I truly believe that things happen for us and to us. We just have to believe it.
7) What can we do to transform our self care ritual? Really sit with the ritual. Be mindful when we are applying our products or whatever the self-care ritual may be. Everything can become a ritual if we infuse it with intention. Sometimes I apply my oils after my shower, and I take my time to apply with care. It feels royal and elegant. I step out feeling refreshed and pampered. Your favorite product? Omg! I have a few Shiva. The Daily Cleanser is the matriarch of JustBe Skin Line. I just love love it. That will always be the cleanser I use. And of course my rose water and my face oils. I have been using oils for thousands of years.
8) Tell us about Persian New Year and the picnic we had?
Well, as you know, Persians sure do love a good party. It’s in our bones to share, celebrate, dance and sing songs. And “norooz”, meaning “new day” is a celebration. A day to celebrate nature and the return of spring. During norooz, all Iranian that are celebrating visit one another and they go hopping from this person’s house to that person’s house. They drink “cha-ee” (tea) and “shirini” (sweets). The traditional dish is “ma-hee ba sabzi polo” (fish and herbed rice). 13 days after nooruz, “sizda-be-dar”, Iranians go to parks and have a picnic to celebrate spring. Our beautiful picnic was a typical Persian breakfast: “paneer” (feta cheese), walnut, bread, tomatoe, cucumber and fresh herbs. We serve fresh herbs at all times: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also honey and butter. It’s very simple yet so delicious. And always “cha-ee” with everything. And if one is so fortunate, you will get to eat “sar-sheer” which mean “top of milk” which is basically a formation of heavy cream. It’s so delicious, but heavy. We eat that with bread and honey. It’s my favorite!