We have never celebrated the Kurdish New Year, Newroz as a tribe. This year we did. Despite skies that threatened to pour down and indeed did until one hour before we gathered. Despite hailstones that replaced the warm sun of the previous day, we did. Despite high winds that blew our sculptured horses over, we did. As a tribe we gathered to go through yet another new door, one described by Dr Saeed as a Door of Freedom, a Door of Hope and Liberation from Oppression.
The lighting of fire is the symbol of Newroz. Of lighting one flame from which the fire is passed from one to the other, finally together lighting the central light which in former times was the method of communication from village to village, indicating that freedom had been gained through the Kurdish defiance of evil as they believed, both evil men and demons.
Our focus was more on the angelic side. As always, the template for the event revealed itself to us. Fire and Horses, both Kurdish symbols mixed with the Old Testament lampstands of Zechariah and the seven spirits of Isaiah.
Our celebration was two fold. It was held at the Horses for Hope stables which were closed off mainly due to the fact that our two mares are close to birth, we did not want them unduly disturbed. It was also the opening of The Hope Centre for Performing Arts, an extension of Art and Music departments in a new wing situated above the stables.
Despite the piercing cold and the bitter wind, over two hundred of our students came from camps scattered throughout the province, our differently abled friends in their wheelchairs, our wonderful Miss Kene and Miss Tahle, and international friends representing the USA, South Korea, Egypt and Lebanon. We were blessed to see our Tribe moving together again.
Today our photo journal will focus on the lampstands and light. Next week we will turn our attention to the art, music and our students.
And the angel who talked with me came again and said: "What do you see?" I said "Behold a lampstand all gold, with a bowl on the top of it and seven lamps on it."
Shex Vagar ( belonging to the priestly caste ) and his daf players led the procession from the entrance gate, passing by and pausing at the seven lampstands representing The Spirit of the Lord, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Might, Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord, all lighting our driveway and directing our path. They proceeded with dignity, halting when they reached the main "fire tower".
“The fire is a symbol of light, holiness and purification. It symbolizes liberation for the Kurdish people. The Jewish nation also experienced something similar when the oil in their temple which had been overrun by an evil regime burned for eight days. I know that today they sing songs about holding light and fire in their hands and pushing back the darkness together. This is exactly what we were doing.
Horses have played a significant role in both Kurdish history and culture. The horse has been both the war horse and the workhorse, and is identified with liberation and independence from oppressors. It was right and honoring to hold the event at the stables and indirectly thank our horses for their role in the healing of our war torn nation."
Musa. General Manager.
“This was a wonderful day for those of us who were in the captivity of ISIS. It truly spoke to each one of us about liberation. Personally, the entrance through the seven lampstands was amazing and touched me deeply. It brought a sense of peace. This event was totally different from anything that Springs of Hope has done. The music and dancing were amazing. I was surprised by such a beautiful meaningful event. Yes, it led us into a New Day.”
Ashrawi, Viyan and Azhar
"The lampstands and the fire took my breath away."
We waited until twilight to light the main fire, Shex Vagar led us all up to the new music and art wing where we saw exceptional art work made by our Syrian and Yezidi students. We then inaugurated the Music room but that is a story for next week.
The most meaningful time for me was the gathering of Our Tribe around the main “light”. Our wheelchair bound friends, feeling the cold, decided to remain upstairs and look down. I recall looking up to them and seeing their contentment at being included, knowing how lovingly they had been lifted to the upper floor and given a front line place in the event.
“The winds are your messengers, the flames of fire your servants" Psalm 104
Gathering to light the fire was meaningful. Khero had sourced long wooden poles, bound them with linen and doused them in kerosene. We held our light poles high, touching each other, receiving the fire and passing the fire on until we all held blazing torches ready to light the central fire ( 20 kgs of logs also doused in kerosene ). I felt a strong sense of unity and teamwork, knowing that one can not push back the darkness alone but from one small flame a huge fire can be ignited. Somehow the lighting of the fire felt like a victorious war dance.
As the skies darkened the light grew brighter, the flame became stronger. The winds rose up and fanned the flame. The music played, the volume was turned high and Kurdish dancing erupted. A New Day had begun.
"This was the first time that I wore Kurdish clothes, I was excited to do that, as the clothes represented my personal liberation from ISIS. It was a New Day, it was a new beginning, the perfect way to enter into a new year. When we broke out in dancing, oh I have no words, amazing, amazing. The most perfect celebration of freedom. Thank you Springs of Hope." Viyan
“And the angel who talked with me came again and said: “What do you see?” I said, “Behold a lampstand all gold, with a bowl on the top of it and seven lamps on it.” Zechariah 4
Dear friend and reader "Newroz 2023. What do you see?”
photo credit : Hevedar Shari
video credit : Sarhat Nariman
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Thank you for making it possible to lead our tribe into a new day and a new hope. With your help, we are seeing liberation and healing.