Kurds Celebrate Their Most Ancient Festival
Newroz is celebrated on 21 March, coinciding with the first day of the spring. It is celebrated by Kurds and people from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India among others. Newroz is a portmanteau of ‘New’, meaning new, and ‘Roz’, meaning day.
Newroz is considered one of the most ancient celebrations in Mesopotamia and Persia. In Babylon Newroz was the way of welcoming the New Year and saying farewell to winter. They understood that nature wakes up after the cold of winter and according to archaeological finds date the festival back to at least 2340 B.C.
In 700 B.C. on 21 March, the Medes established the foundations of the first Aryan race in Mesopotamia, and the first day of spring became New Year’s Day for them. As a result Kurds also remember the establishment of the Medes Empire on the first day of the Kurdish New Year.
Kurds relate the legend of Kawa [Kaveh], the blacksmith who killed the tyrant ruler Zuhak [Zahhak] and liberate his people from the oppression. Although fictionalised, some historians believe Zuhak was one of the last kings of the Medes and Kawa was Persian. The story has different versions, told by different nationalities.
In literature attempts have been made to instill a new cultural meaning and make Newroz a symbol of the Kurdish national struggle. Kurdish poet Taufik Abdullah, also known as Priramerd, was one of the first who connected the term Newroz to loftier ideals than merely the arrival of spring, including revolution and freedom.
In 2010, the United Nations officially recognized 21 March as the day of Newroz. This year is 2716 in the Kurdish calendar.