Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Nevruz! Nevruz (Spring) Festival

The sun gives more light and heat to the southern hemisphere until March 21, after which this applies to the northern hemisphere instead. 

That is why March 21 is a day to celebrate for people living in the northern hemisphere as the symbol of awakening and creation. 

On Nevruz Day, people lay their tables with an assortment of foodstuffs, play games, hold festivities, eat painted eggs and prepare large fires. 

Nevruz, which every society celebrates in forms peculiar to itself, still exists with traditional celebrations in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tatarstan, the Uygur region, Anatolia and the Balkans.

The Nevruz Feast which was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the UNESCO in 2009, is now officially recognized by the UN. At the session of the UN General Assembly which took place on December 2nd, 2009, March 21st was declared “International Nevruz Day”. Thus, in order to promote and celebrate this tradition, the General Assembly asks countries which celebrate the Nevruz Feast to cooperate  with the UNESCO, other Intergovernmental Organizations and NGOs.

Nevruz which is known in Central Asian countries as the messenger of the spring season and the New Day , is a feast which stands for the revival of nature bringing about abundance, dynamism, joy of sharing and fraternity as well as peace and friendship among people. Nevruz is the day on which Mother Earth starts breathing and flourishing  again. The tradition of Nevruz which dates back to five thousand years and is known as the most important day of the year for Central Asian peoples, is being celebrated with various coulourful events each year under various names such as  Navrız, Yeni Gun (New Day), Ulu Kun (Big Day), Mart Dokuzu (Ninth of March), Cıl Pazı, Canı Kun, Sagaa, Isıah, and Yengi Kun.
Nevruz is a cultural heritage of the Turkic World which strengthens the ties among  its peoples. It is one of the most important feasts for Central Asian countries. This feast which stands for the beginning of a new year and the revival of nature, also brings hope and wishes as to the future. This is probably one the unique features of this tradition. Indeed, Nevruz means renewal not only for nature but also for the human being. With the beginnning of a new year, feelings and thoughts are also renewed. Therefore, Nevruz brings about the joy and enthusiasm of starting a new life and symbolizes new beginnings.
All Turkic States owe their power, strength and historical continuity to their peoples’ solidarity, tolerance and fraternity.
This day which is considered as New Year’s day  by ancient Turks and Iranian people is called ‘‘Nevruz’’ in Persian language. Nevruz means   ‘‘new day’’. This special day of the year on which the sun enters the Aries constellation is also the March equinox and occurs on March 21st every  year.

Turkic speaking peoples used to believe that Nevruz brings new life and dynamism to nature as well as spiritual renewal for the human being. As displayed on the first calendar of Turkic peoples consisting of twelve animals, this is an ancestral tradition which is still being celebrated through various ceremonies. According to the Celali Calender  which was designed for the Seljuk Sultan Meliksah, the day on which the sun enters  Aries constellation  is considered as the beginning of a new year. It is also known that Seldjukide emperors were crowned and celebrated Nevruz with their people on this day. The Spring Feast Nevruz which symbolizes  virtue, beauty, integrity, happiness and peace has been celebrated for ages throughout a vast territory including countries of Central Asia. It is as old as humanity itself. Today, Nevruz is even being celebrated in China and in the Balkans in similar ways although under different names. After the declaration of independence of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, March 21st has been declared  as an official holiday in these countries as well.
Legends and religious beliefs related to Nevruz… are all hinting at the need to move from a closed space to the open air, from darkness to light, to the sun and to abundance. At the same time this wish goes along with the expectation of relief and inner peace. The lighting of the fire as it appears in legends and beliefs symbolizes the end of the Ice Age and the invention of fire by man. Similarly, the melting of mountains  stands for the begining of the Bronze Age, and the ploughing of a field as well as the taming of wild animals symbolize the beginning of the Neolithic Age. Still today, fire, water, earth and  caves which are often referred to in Nevruz traditions are insidpensable  elements for the whole humanity. However, fire does have a very special meaning for Turks, no matter which religion or belief they belong to. Indeed, many Turkic peoples such as Altai peoples as well as Tatars, Azeris as well as Karaites and Gagauz people, do all believe that water and fire are necessary for spiritual and physical purification. Therefore, it is a typical Nevruz tradition celebrated throughout the Turkic World to light a fire and jump over it by making good wishes...



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