My dear reader.
It's midnight, for a chicken to stay up this late there must be something huge going on. Well earlier, I got my laptop ready, I made myself a nice Chaay (tea) and I was about to sit and write a blog entry about Newroz in Kuridstan when mum called: "Saaaaaazooo" that's the tone that she uses when she really means: "Sweetie, I love you. Can you please come and help me!" and my response was "and here it goes again…"
Above: Earlier today--before landing in the kitchen-- that's where I was.
I have just helped make over 150 pieces of Shefta (minced meat with onions, greens and a few other bits and pieces) and washed two mountains of dishes (I must make clear to you here—so I receive more sympathy—that I don't believe in the use dish washers for environmental reasons) that was used in the process of making an oversize pot of Yapragh (Dolma). I managed to put some of our guests to sleep, clean up the kitchen, wash more dishes, help the other girls prepare their Kurdish clothes, wash more dishes, and after this I have to go and make some sweets in the oven—what can I say, a Kurdish girl has got duties to fulfill.
But you know what? I am not complaining. I enjoyed every single moment of my evening in the kitchen (I'm sorry that there are no pictorial proof of my cooking and washing because if mum saw me taking pictures, when we had so much to do, then she would simply ask me to "Get out!") because we will be waking up around 5 a.m. well mum will, but still. The food will be put on the stove until we get prepared and leave in the early morning to find a good spot to spend our day. Tomorrow is the year's most important picnic. Newroz! That will be spoken about all year long.
As for earlier today…I actually have to thank some of the guests for dragging me out, it was Shanadar Park. I won't talk about the atmosphere, because the pictures—poorly taken by my phone—will probably tell you more than I can. Beautiful is such a small term to use, to describe the overall sentiment of today's celebration.
Since I hadn't planned on leaving the house we got there a little late. We parked almost half an hour walk away, because there was NO ROOM for parking. From a distance the song echoed in my ears …"Amrozhy, Sali tazaya nawroza hatawa" (the greatest song ever sang on Newroz) I felt like a butterfly flying towards it.
Soon, we pushed and pulled and shoved our way to where some of my relatives were seated. (By the way, today I met about 15 people who I am related to—by blood apparently—but I had never met before. For them, it was like we were born and grown up together.)
First came two singers, then came the beautiful Chopy and then Him—Mr. Aziz Waysi. Famous for his thick black moustache, this man has fans who are crazy for him. And if I say so myself: he rocked the park!!
What was amazing at Shanadar, from where I was seated I couldn’t see any difference. Everyone was carrying the Kurdish flag. There was no separation or affiliation. We were all celebration together, we were celebrating our Kurdishness (basically it was Kurdayaty—though I was told this was not the case outside the Park, but I didn't see anything).
Girls, boys, women, men; the old and the young. We clapped, we danced, we sang. We had our arms waving in the air. We were out there for six entire hours, it felt like 6 minutes. There was something unique about the atmosphere.
I must admit, tapping your feet in high heels, moving your shoulders back and forth—non stop, your arms waving in the air or clapping all along and then singing (who said we can't multi-task?) is no easy work, but it was all joy. For those six hours we forgot all the miseries, all the pains, we enjoyed moments with our families and friends.
Above: This was one of the many scenes I saw today: A young couple, and their small child had come out to enjoy their time.
I observed that it was not just our big group, but there were many families out there who'd come along. This was a party for all—and that's why I enjoyed it so much. The poor and the rich sat together on the same grass, watched the same fireworks and listened to the same songs. People of different political and religious backgrounds, from different parts of Kurdistan (and for that matter, Iraq) were all there celebrating, singing and dancing together…
The party was well organized—to a large degree—the cleaning process began as soon as people started leaving the park. The Newroz fire in Erbil came on first on top of the Shanadar Cave, then the smaller fires appeared...
Then there was the big fireworks, for some of my relatives it was the first time they'd seen it. The children looked astonished—there were colors in the sky! Others were so accustomed to the sound of bombs that brought back tough memories, to hear the same sound but as an indication of happiness was…well, very different.
I watched the fireworks with my six-year-old cousin hugging me tightly. She was watching only with one of her eyes, and occasionally removing her hand to see with both. I could feel she pressed her ears against me—to be protected from the sounds. We were both silent, while everyone else was going was busy videoing and calling out. I could only imagine what the little girl holding me tight around my waste was thinking at that time. It was an incredible moment for me. Erbil's sky was vibrant with colors, sounds, sparkles and celebration. It was another one of those unforgettable times in my life…
I was just glad we can safely, and happily spend such a special day with such special people, in such a special city.
Tomorrow is going to be a big day in my part of the world… no matter where you are, I wish you a Happy Newroz! May you celebrate it in Erbil this time next year.
All pictures were taken by me, because I had my blog in mind. Wanting to enjoy the fireworks, so I decided not to take pictures of it--sorry!