Jumping for joy

March 19, 2000

It's a serious, age-old ritual. But for 9-year-old Ryan Motevalli-Oliner of Baltimore, the fire-purification rite preceding tomorrow's Iranian New Year was a chance to leap and laugh.

For the first time Wednesday, Ryan attended the annual ceremony in College Park with his mother, Mahnaz Motevalli, 38, a clinical researcher at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and others among Maryland's estimated 20,000 residents of Iranian descent. "We say we will put all our sickness and our evil thoughts into the fire to be burned," Motevalli explained, "and we'll take that beautiful red color of the fire, the strength and courage, to be good and healthy the rest of the year."

Motevalli needed a little extra courage Wednesday: Her 7-year-old daughter also jumped for the first time this year. "Being a mom," she fretted, "I always worry about fire and jumping."

Pub Date: 03/19/00

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