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The Fire and The Dance



Newroz 2024 was not about fire. The focus on the province of Duhok was on the disastrous floods that swept through homes and tents alike, leaving 300 families placed courtesy of the Governor of Duhok, in hotels. The flood wreaked damage and took lives. One week later the search for a young Yezidi boy from Khanke camp still continues. Divers, drag nets, helicopters and para gliders have been brought in to scour the lake where he is presumed drowned.

Newroz, a New Day did not begin with the shouts of joy and freedom as fire was lit from village to village. The warning went out to remain at home, where even in concrete houses the residents spent much of the holiday mopping up invading water.

Our celebrations of course, although well prepared, were canceled. We wanted the Fire. We received the Rain. After the floods had subsided we held our Newroz Art and Music Festival at The Academy above Horses for Hope, the title being The Fire & The Dance.



Preparations for the Newroz fire that did not happen due to the floods

 

Avya, Play Therapist



"Despite the floods and even though we could not light the Newroz fire, this was the time to change the darkness into light. It was the time of breakthrough, of freedom, of a new day dawning, and actually all the more meaningful at a time of flooding when the symbolic fire could not be lit. It was a day of victory and of overcoming evil with good which is our reason for great joy and dancing.

The Academy paintings brought the fire into our midst, and reminded each of us of our personal rising up and triumph. The music expressed the freedom and joy of the Kurdish festival. Although cold and wet, a new day dawned."

 

Jadlin, ISIS Survivor


"The Fire & The Dance was wonderful. Growing up in Shingal I never heard about the Kurdish Newroz holiday because we were disconnected from Kurdish culture, which was not part of our Yezidi tradition.

Of course every Yezidi tradition and holiday was totally obliterated whilst we were held in captivity of ISIS. When I was rescued and came to Kurdistan I began to see a new culture, and learn history, one of which I knew nothing about.

I have gradually learned to appreciate the Kurdish culture, it has been in stages and has taken time. Today I love the Newroz festival. I love the fire. I love the dance. I love Kurdish clothes, I loved wearing them, as did all my friends.

If ever we return to Shingal, I hope that we will be open enough to incorporate Kurdish traditions with the traditional Yezidi traditions. Newroz is too precious to lose."

 

Hanan, Orphan






"I remember one time my mother and I dressed in Kurdish clothes that she had sewn for me. We were living in Shariya camp, it was before she died. No one explained the meaning of Newroz to me, it was just a very special time with my Mum. My first and last time going somewhere special all dressed up together.

Horses for Hope is my very happy place, so it made me joyful to be with all my friends from Springs of Hope and with the horses and to celebrate together. It was different because I did not have Kurdish clothes but I was very happy. "





 

Basim, ISIS Survior


"I lived in Shingal until I was kidnapped into captivity around 8 years old. Even as a child I wore only the traditional Yezidi Shingali clothes because my father told me that we have no connection with the Kurds or Kurdish culture.

Since coming to Kurdistan after being in captivity in Syria, we began to come closer to the Kurdish culture, and to learn that we are Kurds. There is a huge difference in our understanding and acceptance today in comparison to ten years ago. You have to remember that ISIS did the utmost to strip us of our identity, our names, our values, our traditions and culture, so everything has to be relearned and reexperienced through the lens of a Yezidi in Kurdistan.

I love Newroz. I love the fire, I love its symbolism of freedom from tyranny and evil which speaks so strongly to all of us who were held in captivity by ISIS.

Thanks to Springs of Hope for always giving us the opportunity to grow more and to experience this vibrant culture of which we are a part."

 

Radwan, Music Teacher





"I have never discussed my feelings, this is the first time that I am speaking about this. After 10 years this is a rebirth for me. It began last year as we lit the fire, this year I can say that I have been given another birth. I have discovered who I am. I have discovered that I am a Kurd, I feel so deeply connected and so proud of this.

Living in Sinjar before being expelled by ISIS, the Kurdish culture had been stamped out. We had undergone a slow process of Arabisation losing our ancient identity. Anything Kurdish was considered a shame. Today living in the camp, I am amongst my people, knowing my identity, celebrating my culture. I am born anew. I am blessed."




 

“Each Kurdish heart carries a thousand stories of resilience and bravery.” 

Kurdish proverb

 

Salam, Director of The Hope Academy of Art



"Last year our artistic focus was on the Fire and the Horses. This year our focus was more cultural, looking at the connection between the Fire and the Dance, which breaks out in pure joy once the fire is lit, the fire being the symbol of breaking the chains of tyranny. The moment that the fire is lit, the message is that the evil ruler is dead. A new day has begun.

This is a powerful message for each one of us, whether Yezidi from Kurdistan, or Yezidi who has been in the captivity of ISIS. We all need to remember that whatever has held us captive, is dead.

Whilst painting, the studio was both quiet in silent focus, yet full of joy at the opportunity to express the very heart of Newroz. We wanted to transfer some of the joy to paper, that moment when the fire is lit, the sign of freedom from evil, that went from mountain top to mountain top, the villages then breaking out in the dance of joy.

I hope that we succeeded and I hope that you will be able to feel some of our joy as you look at our paintings."



 

Harem, Art Student



"When painting my heart rejoiced. I wanted to show the beauty of our culture , of nature, our beautiful clothes and of course the power of the fire. I felt such pride for my nation that is always struggling to raise its head and be strong. I hope that the message of the fire will reach and inspire all."

 

“Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance.” 

Jeremiah 31:13

 

Kareen, Art Student



"My focus was on the Kurdish women and the way that they dress up for the occasion, leave their homes and break out in joy dancing for hours and hours. I particularly appreciated Mr Payiz, whose exhibition of garments made by the Sewing Hope ladies, added to our joy and cultural experience.

As I painted, I used all of my creativity and my knowledge both in painting skills and about Kurdish dance. I wanted the fire to be present, as it is a central national theme, but my desire was to express the joy of the women in the dance."

 

“And the young men and the old shall be happy.” 

Jeremiah 31:13

 

Hector, Art Student



"As I painted I was overwhelmed with an indescribable feeling of pure joy."

 

“Our history is filled with struggles, our future will be filled with victories.” 

Kurdish proverb

 

Nazar, Art Student



"I wanted to express the beauty, and the strength of the Kurdish people . We have been oppressed and repressed throughout endless generations, but we are strong, we will arise."

 

Washen, Art Student



"I wanted to express the beauty, and the strength of the Kurdish people . We have been oppressed and repressed throughout endless generations, but we are strong, we will arise."

 

“Our hearts beat to the rhythm of freedom.” 

Kurdish proverb

 

Bashiq, English Teacher

"In Kurdish history and culture, dance and fire hold a very deep meaning and significance for every Kurd regardless of his geographic location. Dance is an expression of storytelling, every movement has its meaning, and tells the history of the event. Dance represents unity, joy and cultural identity. Every generation will know the steps from the youngest to the oldest.

It is the same with the music that The Hope Academy of Music played, traditional songs relating the story and triumph of Newroz, traditional songs that are passed from generation to generation.

The Fire represents purification, purification from evil, deliverance from evil, and sending the good news that darkness is vanquished across the mountains from village to village.

The story is old but from year to year there is a new significance and meaning for every participant."

 


 

Musa, GM

“Choosing to celebrate Newroz at Horses for Hope, is taking our students to taste a piece of heaven, a place of joy, tranquillity and inspiration. A place where new beginnings happen every day, in the midst of new growth, doves, ducks, flowers, trees blossoming and all of the radiant jewel-like colours of spring.

The Sewing hope ladies made very beautiful dresses with different designs and colors. Everything that was made was related to the Newroz, to the beauty of spring and the colors that we see from nature. We could imagine how the dresses and colors were chosen, by standing in a field of flowers. It was like a copy paste from the beauty of spring with full color, flowers, and fresh born green. Open colors that make you happy and smile and cause you to want to touch the fabric. We saw the same in all the paintings, each one reflected the spring colours of nature. Each color competed with the other, yet all were connected and blended.

Music is a very important part of the event. Newroz is deeply connected to music which is shared from inside you and reflects the happiness of the season. . We are happy to see all our students supporting each other and playing very beautiful music that expresses the history and the joy of this day. The connection of participants with the music was very important and they enjoyed the Newroz songs and eagerly engaged with the dance.

Despite the weather, we experienced joy.”



 

“Kurdistan is a kind of dream, an ancient one that floats across cities and valleys, through crumbling markets and oil fields, stretched across four nations. Nestled between empires, surrounded by conquerors, they have shared this dream for hundreds of years but no one knows how the dream ends.”

Dreams of Kurdistan


 

Dr. Saeed, CEO



“Dear Students and friends,

Thank you for coming to this important exhibition, The Fire and The Dance. Although we have wood for the fire, and were prepared, this year due to the floods we could not light the fire.

The fire however, the symbol of triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness, of spreading the message across the nation, this fire is inside each one of us. We carry the fire and no flood can extinguish it. The fire will continue to blaze brightly in each one of us, we will carry it wherever we go in this land and outside.

The fire is your symbol of a new beginning, a new day. As you enjoy the exhibition, personalise the fire and the victory it brings.”



 

So how does the dream of Kurdistan end?

To where does the fire of Newroz lead?

“To be a free people in our land." The Hope.

Carrying the Fire within, not only at Newroz.


 


 

Can you help?

With your help we are inspiring our students to carry the fire within themselves - good triumphing over evil and light overcoming darkness. We are giving them a new beginning, a new day.

 

Every donation makes a huge difference.

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