Newroz and Iraq, Syria and Turkey

By Scherco R. Baban:

Newroz is the celebration of the Spring Equinox, on March 21, which is considered as the beginning of the New Year and widely celebrated by the Indo-Iranian peoples such as Kurds, Tajiks, Afghans, Persian, Ossetians and Balushs. With characteristics deeply rooted in the traditions of Zoroastrianism, it even predates this religion.

My kinsmen, the Kurds, think we have celebrated Newroz for as long as we have been considered as Kurds. But we celebrated it when we were Ezidis, when we were Zoroastrians and when we became Muslims too! We celebrated Newroz long before the Arianzation of our nation, as recent discoveries have shown. The followers of the autochthon Kurdish religion, Ezidism, date their çarşemmeya Sûr -the Wednesday after Newroz – back to 6,762 years ago.

Newroz has always had the greatest place in the heart of every Kurd since its arrival meant the end of suffering from harsh winters, great enemies or natural disasters.

When the new emergent states of Iraq, Turkey and Syria after World War I started their assimilation campaigns against the Kurdish population, expressions of Kurdish identity were the first thing to be targeted, among them Newroz. The two Arab majority states of Iraq and Syria, pursued their infamous Arabization policy against this divided ancient nation, including continued efforts to rename cities, streets, ancient places, mountains, rivers and historical personalities.

They even tried to Arabize this totally UN-SEMITIC tradition and so-called university professors aired their unfounded theories of Nairuz  of Arab or Semitic origin, even giving it such names as the Eid Al Shajara, The Feast Of The Tree, or Eid Al Rabee, The Feast Of Spring. Time passed and both states realized how silly this argument was and they ceased this practice. Well, actually, both states have practically ceased to exist nowadays…

In what would become the Turkish Republic after World War I, Kurds were no longer allowed to be Kurds. They were to be called Mountain Turks. The Turkish state wanted to wipe out Kurdish identity from the face of the earth. Newroz was one of the manifestations of that forbidden identity. Albeit Kurds continued to celebrate their Newroz as they had done for thousands of years, despite the efforts of the Turkish police and gendarmerie to stop them.

As well as trying to suppress these Newroz festivities by force, the Turks applied other methods, such as sermons (religious speeches) in mosques, books for primary, elementary and high schools, conferences at universities – all these were used to portray Newroz as an un-Islamic or pagan festivity which Kurds should not celebrate.

In what became the Turkish Republic, Newroz has been celebrated only by Kurds, and therefore it was known among the Turks as a Kurdish Feast. Some ‘moderate’ Turkish writers argued about the Persian origin of Newroz. But we don´t deny this. Newroz is equally as Ossetian, Tajik, Afghan and Persian as it is Kurdish. These people are our brother nations and we share many common traditions with them, so what is strange about that? Anyway, as I said, in what became Turkey it has never been celebrated by Turks and only by Kurds and that is why it is a Kurdish Feast.

In the mid-nineties of the last century, the Turkish state began to realize its failure to ban Newroz  and therefore they lifted the ban. But they also made an astonishingly hypocritical move and announced it as an ancient Turkish new year festival. They readopted it as ‘Nevruz’, with a more Turkish way of spelling it! They developed the ideological policy of ‘Nevruz’ (the Turkified version of Newroz) as a Turkish Ergenekon Festival and Newroz was presented as an element of Turkishness.

Government officers and ministers began to start fires to jump over them in official ceremonies, practicing the very Newroz tradition that they had banned, suppressed and labelled as anti-Turkish and un-Islamic until just a year before!

Nowadays everyone in Turkey hopes for a feasible solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey. I would just say: Start by reversing all the assimilation policies you have carried out for the last 90 years, and rename everything back to its original names. Be mature! Stop all lunacies about Newroz, and treat it as it really is: The Kurdish New Year! And respect it as such.

Scherco R. Baban is a nuerolinguist (NLP) and a Hispanist (specializing in Hispanic studies, that is Spanish language, literature, linguistics, history, and civilization). He started his studies in Uppsala, Sweden and completed them in Spain and Latin America.

2 Responses to Newroz and Iraq, Syria and Turkey
  1. Tim Upham
    March 6, 2013 | 05:53

    Nowruz is of Persian-Zoroastrian origin. It dates back to the ancient Persian Empire. The Turks arrived after Turkey was no longer a part of the Persian Empire. When Islam arrived, it stream rolled over Zoroastrianism, because the magis lived in opulent wealth away from their follows, and the mullahs were everyday normal people like they were. But like how Christianity adapted itself to local cultures, Islam was the same way. So the Zoroastrian heritage got incorporated into Islam. But also the animal worship of the Berbers got incorporated into their Islam.

  2. naddir m patel
    September 21, 2013 | 03:27

    Nowruz is the Zarathushti new year and by extension the new year of the Zarathushti empire that extended from Afghanistan to Turkish borders. The dating of Navruz by the Kurds almost match the traditional dating by Parsis, the only remaining Zarathushtis in the world. Kurds should initiate a path back to their ancient faith; a faith which prizes Truth and Justice and gentlemanly debate

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