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Nowruz Celebration in Afghanistan

nowruz, nauroz
Cooking Sumalak

In Afghanistan, Nowruz festival is traditionally celebrated for two weeks. Preparations for Nowruz start several days beforehand, at least after Chahar-Shanbeh-Suri, the last Wednesday before the New Year. Cooking Samanu (or samanak) is a Nowruz tradition in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Among various traditions and customs, the most important ones are:

  • Haft Mewa: In Afghanistan, they prepare Haft Mewa (Seven Fruits) instead of Haft Sin which is common in Iran. Haft Mewa is like a Fruit salad made from 7 different Dried fruits, served in their own syrup. The 7 dried fruits are: Raisin, Senjed (the dried fruit of the oleaster tree), Pistachio, Hazelnut, Prune (dry fruit of Apricot), Walnut and whether Almond or another species of Plum fruit.
  • Samanak (Samanu): It is a special type of sweet dish made from Wheat germ. Women take a special party for it during the night, and cook it from late in the evening till the daylight, singing a special song: Samanak dar Josh o ma Kafcha zanem - Degaran dar Khwab o ma Dafcha zanem.
  • Mela-e Gul-e Surkh: The Guli Surkh festival which literally means Red Flower Festival (referring to the red Tulip flowers) is an old festival celebrated only in Mazari Sharif during the first 40 days of the year when the Tulip flowers grow. People travel from different parts of the country to Mazar in order to attend the festival. It is celebrated along with the Jahenda Bala ceremony which is a specific religious ceremony performed in the holy blue mosque of Mazar that is believed (mostly by Sunnite Afghans) to be the site of the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph of Islam. The ceremony is performed by raising a special banner (whose color configuration resembles Derafsh Kaviani) in the blue mosque in the first day of year (i.e. Nowruz). The Guli Surkh party continues with other special activities among people in the Tulip fields and around the blue mosque for 40 days.
  • Buzkashi: Along with other customs and celebrations, normally a Buzkashi tournament is held. The Buzkashi matches take place in northern cities of Afghanistan and in Kabul.
  • Special Cuisines: People cook special types of dishes for Nowruz, especially on the eve of Nowruz. Normally they cook Sabzi Chalaw, a dish made from rice and spinach, separately. Moreover, the bakeries prepare a special type of cookie, called Kulcha-e Nowruzi, which is only baked for Nowruz. Another dish which is prepared mostly for the Nowruz days is Mahi wa Jelabi (Fried Fish and Jelabi) and it is the most often meal in picnics. In Afghanistan, it is a common custom among the affianced families that the fiancĂ©'s family give presents to or prepare special dishes for the fiancĂ©e's family on special occasions such as in the two Eids, Bara'at and in Nowruz. Hence, the special dish for Nowruzis Mahi wa Jelabi.
  • Sightseeing to Cercis fields: The citizens of Kabul go to Istalif, Charikar or other green places around where the Cercis flowers grow. They go for picnic with their families during the first 2 weeks of New Year.
  • Jashni Dehqan: Jashni Dehqan means The Festival of Farmers. It is celebrated in the first day of year, in which the farmers walk in the cities as a sign of encouragement for the agricultural productions. In recent years, this activity is being performed only in Kabul and other major cities, in which the mayor and other high governmental personalities participate for watching and observing.

Nowruz around the World

Related links:

Nowruz, Nauroz Chahar-Shanbeh-Suri Farvardigan Days History of Nowruz Celebrations of Nowruz Haji Firouz Nowruz Spread Spring-Cleaning Other Names of Nowruz Prayers of Nowruz Sizdah-Bedar Customs & Foods of Nowruz Significance & Symbolism Tradition & Mythology Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar
Nowruz, Nauroz 2022 dates
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1Nowruz, Nauroz21 March 2022 (Monday)
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