Chestnut Hill on Ice 2023
Salon owner Maryam Lavasani, who built a life here after emigrating from Iran 38 years ago, said she’s hosting an event in Salon Maryam and commissioned an ice sculpture for Chestnut Hill on Ice. Maryam is participating in the event for the first time – because she felt she had to do something to honor Iranian women and Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old whose death at the hands of Iranian “morality police” has sparked nationwide uprisings, which continue to spread despite harsh crackdowns by the government. Amini died in police custody after being arrested because “strands of her hair were showing from beneath her headscarf.”
“My heart is shattered – watching the news, and I feel so sad. I feel I want to be there, to do something,” she said. “All these children are over there, losing their lives, being locked up with death sentences, and for why? What are they doing wrong, other than just being young? This sculpture is the least I can do.”
“People were afraid to speak up,” she said. “But now, young people feel they have nothing to live for and nothing to lose. They’d rather die than live the way they have been living.”
Since Amini was killed, demonstrations have supported Iranian women and others who resist the harsh regime in many other parts of the world, including Philadelphia, and countless Iranians have been jailed, tortured, and killed.
The woman whose image in the ice sculpture will melt away but whose memory will not.
Lavasani took over ownership of the Chestnut Hill salon from Norio of Tokyo in December 2019 after working there for 35 years. Lavasani, whose brother Maurice was the owner of Shundeez, a Persian restaurant at the top of the Hill (where Thai Kuu is now) and a Middle Eastern foods business in the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market for more than 20 years, has been in the U.S. since 1985.
“I am very thankful for my clients who have stuck with me,” Lavasani said, “especially during the pandemic. Just three months after I took over, COVID started. I had to close for four months. There is no way my business could have survived without the help of my customers and my wonderful landlord, Paul Altomare. My clients are my friends and feel like part of my family.”
Salon Maryam, located at 8131 Germantown Avenue, will also serve Hot Apple Cider and Pastries from Persian-American-owned Elegance Cafe.