I do not know if I should say Happy Newroz to you!

By Dr Amir Sharifi:

Some Reflections

My wishes for the New Year may sound somber in this critical period of our history. I do not know if I should wish you a Happy Newroz. It is true that spring has returned in all its glory, fruit trees are in bloom and spring flowers have filled the air with fragrance; yet our grief is deep and our hearts are caught in a world of grief and anguish ever since the new Zahhaks, the ISIS monstrous murderers, set out to invade, loot, and destroy our land and terrorize our people with their black flags and malignant ideology.

Newroz for us is a time for reawakening, happiness, and delightful warmth, for celebrating liberty. But this spring a dark cloud is hanging over our land. On the very first day of Newroz in Hasaka, the murderous herds blew up a Newroz event, killing and wounding many celebrants, some of whom were children; three Peshmergas were beheaded. The world remembers the horrific spectacles of the macabre crimes perpetrated against the inhabitants of Shingal and Kobani and their surrounding areas. Thousands of Peshmergas and hundreds of defenders of Kobani, both women and men, heroically fought and lost their lives in defending freedom. We remember the grief of their brothers, sisters, mothers, brothers, and fathers, friends, relatives, their nation; we have seen some of them in pictures. A mother holding her child, a father holding his son’s hands; a daughter looking in admiration at her father. Can we celebrate Newroz under these tragic conditions, with raging ISIS attack on our people, with over a million refugees, with hundreds of thousands of Ezidis displaced, with many women and young girls still in captivity?

I do not know if I should wish you a Happy Newroz in the face of all this calamity, but I know we have inherited the destiny and legacy of those whose fierce fight against obscurantism and criminal ISIS has brought great pride to every Kurd in the world; those who have shown the world optimism in the face of the barbarities of their foes, and what the Kurdish Spring promises to the world when the Arab spring is now in a distant past. In the spirit and exchanges of Happy Newroz, we offer our flowers to the memory of those who have given up their lives; we offer flowers to the fighting force who, during these Newroz days, are fighting the enemy in different fronts. We won’t celebrate Newroz unless we sing with and of them without pause until we see them. Such is the power of Newroz even for diasporic Kurds. We can always see its mystique and majesty shine through like the sun momentarily hidden under clouds, like the forbidden words of our language which is now written on every blank page, like the wild flowers that grow in our plains and meadows in the spring wherever they want, like Kawa, the blacksmith that comes to us from a different time and place to rekindle the joyful fire of Newroz and pledge the triumph of light, life, love, and liberty.

A poem entitled ‘1979 Newroz’ by the great Kurdish poet Abdullah Pashew describes why the poet “won’t celebrate Newroz” without the familiar scenes, sites and sentiments of nostalgia in his room.

1979 Newroz

This year, without mountains, I won’t celebrate Newroz.

Without the scent of grass – I won’t celebrate Newroz

I won’t celebrate Newroz – unless the joint dance of men and women raises dust

Unless I am the lead dancer!

My burning heart

At dawn wakes me up early!

I am very scared.

A partridge.

An errand.

A village.

A city.

A river, a mountain to remember

I am very scared.

A tree.

A stone.

A shelter.

A mound.

A wild weed. I reminisce.

Wake me up early,

Don’t say, you wanted me to get all the sleep I wanted.

I have sworn to the mountain.

To go on a journey in Kurdistan

in the autumn and spring.

And carry its nostalgia, to my room!

Moscow, 1979


Dr Amir Sharifi is president of the Kurdish American Education Society, Los Angeles.

One Response to I do not know if I should say Happy Newroz to you!
  1. Shiwan
    March 27, 2015 | 18:10

    Nawrooz Festival has been celebrated for centuries. They predate the advent of Islam. Noting can stop it just like Christmas. There are ebbs and flows.The largest Newrooz will be held when all 4 parts of Kurdistan when 50 million Kurds all over enjoy freedom, democracy, equality. Its on the horizon.

    Kurdish struggle has moved to the next phase.
    From mountains, Kurds have succeed to influence the White House and US Congress.

    That is a major victory!

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