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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nowruz: Talibanned no longer

(King Jamshid)
On March 20, 2002, then-President George W. Bush sent Nowruz Greeting to Afghans. 

In this official letter, Bush stated:  Throughout their history, Afghans have observed Nowruz.  But the Taliban had forbidden Afghans from following this treasured part of their heritage.  Next week, for the first time in many years, Afghans will be free once more to celebrate this time-honored tradition.

Just what is this “time-honored tradition” of Nowruz, and why are the Taliban so against it?

According to Wikipedia, the Taliban banned Nowruz because they considered it an “ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship.”  (The Ayotollahs in Iran felt similarly about Nowruz, and also tried to ban it.)

It is said that Zoroaster (Zarathustra) himself (Persian prophet and philosopher, circa 18th to 10th centuries BCE) stressed the importance of celebrating Nowruz.  The Shahnameh (circa 1000 CE) credits King and High Priest Jamshid with originating Nowruz.  According to Persian legend, Jamshid was the fourth king of the world who also had control of angels and demons.  The name “Jamshid” is linguistically associated with the proto-Iranian words for “bright, shining, radiant.”  The name
“Nowruz” – which now means “New Day” – once meant “New Light.”  Nowruz (Nouwruz in Afghanistan) has recently been recognized by the U.N. General Assembly, and is a public holiday in at least ten countries.  It occurs at the time of the vernal equinox.

In Afghanistan, Nouwruz is traditionally celebrated for a two-week period.  Nouwruz customs include the following:  Haft Mewa (fruit salad with seven dried fruits); Samanak (wheat-germ dish); Mela-e
Gul-e Surkh (Red Flower – tulip – Festival); Buzkashi (horseback competition); and Jashn-e Dehqan (Festival of Farmers)

In honor of Nowruz 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released this overall statement:  May this new year be filled with a renewed sense of hope and a new commitment to the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are our universal birthright.


Copyright March 22, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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