Friday, 20 March marks the first day of spring, and millions of people will celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year. As the global pandemic casts a shadow on festivities, SAT-7 PARS supports and encourages its viewers to look forward to a ‘new day’ through special programming and live episodes.

Today, many across the Persian speaking world will be self-isolating themselves in their homes, watching special programs about Nowruz, and looking for a connection with other people.

“This year, Nowruz will be different to previous years, because of the coronavirus” explains Reza Jafari, one of the presenters of the live show Signal. Travel restrictions, closed shops, and social isolation will prevent many viewers from celebrating Nowruz with friends and family.

The past Persian year has been especially hard for those living in Iran. The people have faced floods, riots and protests, and now through the spread of COVID-19, many have suffered the loss of loved ones and the country is in lockdown.

“The Persian people have been through more than most in the past year” states Panayiotis Keenan, Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, “but by standing together they have been able to persevere and overcome the challenges that they have faced. At SAT-7 we will continue to stand with them, through thick and thin, and continue to share our hope in Christ. For God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

“We pray that as we celebrate the start to a new year, that our viewers would come to know that through Christ they can be made new every day,” he adds.

“Through today’s special episode of Signal, we can be with our viewers, and we want to celebrate this new year with them,” explains Reza. “But we also want to emphasise that while Nowruz is fun and good, our ultimate celebration is in Christ and in our salvation through Him”.

The traditional Haftseen table will be featured on the live programs Signal, Hashtag, and Golpand.

Children are perhaps the ones who will struggle with the current situation the most. With their high energy levels and unable to run around outside, to play, or to visit friends, children are needing alternative means of entertainment. Parastoo Poortaheri, Presenter of Hashtag, has therefore launched two separate competitions on her program and the six winners will be announced on the special Nowruz episode this Friday. For the competitions, children have been sending their prayers for the new year and video or voice messages about what they have learned on the program.

“I am over the moon from the responses and prayers they have sent us” shares Parastoo excitedly. “Most of them are prayers about the current world health situation because of the pandemic”.

The prize for these competitions is a special board game; “We are trying to encourage children to interact with family more, especially now that they are staying home and not going to school. It is an ideal game for them to play with their parents and siblings” Parastoo explains. As more children are having to stay at home, Parastoo has also seen her audience grow, with new live calls being made on the show and new contacts from Afghanistan, “I am so happy that this program is a source of hope to these viewers” she adds.

“Because of satellite television, we are able to celebrate Nowruz with our viewers in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan” shares Panayiotis Keenan, Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS. “We can encourage and support them during this challenging time, and we can share our message of God’s love and hope with them”.

“This year, Nowruz will be different for all of us celebrating across the world because of the virus” explains Reza. “Yet if we consider everything that is happening around us, we have to recognise how weak we are. Let us therefore hide our treasure where no thief can steal it. Nothing is eternal on this earth, except our salvation in Christ”.

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