Shohreh Seirafi is the Senior Admissions Counselor for the Saybrook University School of Mind-Body Medicine, as well as for the School of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Inquiry Human Science program.
Shohreh describes herself as Persian. She first immigrated to the United States with her family at age 5 as her dad completed a Pediatric Residency with a specialty in Neurology at the University of Minnesota. At age 17 she moved to the United States permanently, however Shohreh feels passionate about keeping her Persian culture alive for herself and her family. She explains, “It’s like holding onto the earth where I was born.” Her parents urged her never to forget her heritage, advice that Shohreh honors as she continues to share her heritage and rituals with her two daughters, husband, and anyone who is interested in learning about her roots.
Shohreh explains that Persian culture is influenced by the Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3,500 years ago. For 1,000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world and was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE.
Persian culture values education, warmth, friendliness, and rituals, such as the Persian New Year. The New Year is celebrated on the last Tuesday of the Persian calendar, which coincides with spring, and includes a fire ritual. Persians believe in the power of fire to purify, and during the fire ritual people may burn what is not longer serving them in the fire. Family and friends gather and celebrate by jumping over the fire to purify, honor their ancient roots, and start the New Year fresh.
In addition to the fire ritual, part of the ceremony includes drumming and a spoon ritual. During the spoon ritual a person covers their face and body concealing their true identity and then makes a drumming noise on another person’s door. The person opening the door responds by gives the person candy and treats.
Shohreh and her family continue to hold the Persian value of education highly. Her two daughters hold Doctors of Chiropractic degrees and are practicing in the Bay Area. Shohreh achieved an MBA from the University of Minnesota .
Shohreh shared a Persian saying, “Eat breakfast by yourself, lunch with friends, and dinner with an enemy.” The thought behind the saying is about balance with food, eating breakfast alone to fuel, sharing lunch with a friend to eat less, and dinner with your enemy – because the enemy will want to eat more! This is ancient wisdom that has resounding implications in our modern culture and demonstrates a playful wisdom.