Tuesday March 21, 2017
Kabul (BNA) Nawroz Festival, which is the most ancient and historic festivals of Afghanistan, has been celebrated by people from diverse ethno-linguistic communities since Jamshid King, according to most of writers and historians. It was fifth century of Solar Hijri calendar which start of the year coincided with start of spring as days of the year were changing based on calendars in past. Jalal Malik Shah Saljooqi by making use of this opportunity originated Jalali calendar in 467 Lunar Hijri and approved Nawroz as the first day of spring and Hamal, coinciding with 21st of March and as a result Nawroz and New Year festival began to be marked since. Based on some stories, the start of Caliphate of Hazrat Ali coincides with the first day of the year; thus, Nawroz got religious background too and this added to glory and greatness of the day as Iran now celebrates the day with full respect. Nawroz has its particular etiquettes as Haft Mewa and Haft Sin literally translated as ‘Seven fruit’ considered as common traditions during Nawroz among the people.
A couple of days before the New Year and Nawroz, most families buy dried fruit as raisin, pistachio, almond, pea, walnut, senjet (a type of dried cherry), dried apricots and hazelnuts to prepare Haft Mewa. First the walnuts and pistachios are soaked overnight in water. The next night remove the skin for all of the walnuts and pistachio. The pistachio skin comes off easily, but the walnut skin requires a bit more effort. Then enough water is boiled so it will cover all of the dried fruit and nuts. Then cool the boiled water to room temperature. Make sure to rinse all of the nuts in water so they are clean. In a large pot place the walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, blanched almonds, dried apricot, and senjet all together. Pour the cooled boiled water so it covers about two inches above the fruit and nuts. You can add a little bit of rosewater as well, but I think it takes away from the natural flavors of the druit salad. Cover the pot and place in the fridge for about two to three days.
The night before you serve the Haft Mewa, add the raisins both green and black. Let the fruit salad chill overnight, and then serve. Besides preparing Haft Mewa, a number of families prepare Haft Seen ‘The 7 “S” of Nawroz Spread’ and the main items are Somagh (sumac which symbolizes the color of sunrise), Sekeh (vinegar which symbolizes age and patience), Senjed (dried fruit from lotus tree which symbolizes love), Samanoo (sweet pudding which symbolizes affluence), Sabzeh (sprouts which symbolizes rebirth), Sib (apple which symbolizes health and beauty) and Sir (garlic which symbolizes medicine). All the items are put on a table or on Sofreh-e-Haft Seen, called as Sofreh-e-Sall (table of the year’ in different bowls. All members of family sit around the table five or ten minutes prior to start of the New Year and pray for it. In Afghanistan, Nawroz is celebrated as festival of sapling plantation and farmers are appreciated in order to increase their products. Meanwhile, our people go to shrines and graveyards and by hoisting Janda (flag) of the shrine and singing Naat mark Nawroz festival. If children are born in our country on this day, their names are put as Nawroz, while engaged young men send baked fish and dresses besides food and fruits of Nawroz to their fiancés’ families. Common people in particular children wear new clothes and go to hillsides to see various views of nature. In Kabul, capital city of Afghanistan, Nawroz festivals are marked and held in various locations as Khwaja Safa, Shah Shaheed, Sakhi hillside, Karizmir, Astalif hill and Gulghondi of Charikar.
Sunday March 19, 2017
Kabul (BNA) Foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs have been distributed to 500 war affected families in northern Baghlan province.
Abdul Rahim Qayoumi head of Red Crescent of Baghlan told BNA reporter, the distributed assistances include, meat, blanket and cloth packages.
The aids have been provided by Red Crescent of Egypt.
Sunday March 19, 2017
Kabul (BNA) Introduction: Now-Roz in Persian literally “New Day” is the first day of the Solar Hijri calendar. Although, every morning falling of the sunbeam across the earth brings a new day, yet, it is one of the total of the universal vortex cycle. Since the creator with his engineering has given a start and an end and a restart to every cycle. Similarly, the time has divided into four cycles namely, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, which is called a year. Thus, the first day starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of spring of this repeating cycle is Now-Roz / new day that comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight”.
Although there is no accurate information that traces the entire history of Now-Roz, but as long as some historians could make it yet celebrating the commencement of the New Year is amongst the oldest and the most universally observed festivals, and has a long history in the Middle East and Mesopotamia. The Sumerians, the founders of some of the oldest city-states in ancient Mesopotamia (bain al-Narayan 3000BC, present day southern Iraq), celebrated their new year by growing barley in the first month of their calendar in March/April and, in fact, their New Year was called The Festival of the Sowing of Barley. Some also link the day to King Jamshid / Yama and Zoroastrian, which could only be the history belongs to central and south Asian and Middle Eastern “Kurds”. Yet, before they started celebrating it as a religious day they used to celebrate it as the day of victory and nature “spring”.
Now-Roz a spring festival was celebrated thousands years ago in different parts of the world. China celebrated “Chûn Jié” 2000BC. Although, Now-Roz in central and south Asia was being celebrated for centuries but the history wrapped it in 600BC when Zoroaster exactly in his 30s started his journey from Balkh to central highlands. Since central highlands of Afghanistan have been always covered with heavy snow, he had to rescue himself from the freezing cold and snow in a cave for two years, where he kept expending his philosophical thought and knowledge. But, one morning falling of the sunbeam made him saying “Hey, the largest light! Would you enjoy your being in the absence of creatures benefited by your light and heat? It has been two years that I along with my Eagle and snake waiting for your glimpse, yes, it’s a new day “now-roz”. (Nietzsche, 1883)
There are two different views on celebrating “Now-Roz” during King Jamshid “Yamah”. Some believe that a long lasting battle between King Yamah and Ahriman completely destroyed the agriculture and the remaining plants got dried due to not being cared. But, ending the war and no droughts anymore brought a green spring, which was named a new day “now-roz”. While some other believe that King Jamshid had left for a world tour, he arrived to the eastern part of Azerbaijan just few days before spring came and a Royal throne and celebration was made for him one morning, which he named a new day “now-roz”. (Kriwaczek, 2002)
Celebrating Now-Roz and/or spring festival has a long history in India, which is called Vasant Panchami, also spelled Basant Panchami, is a Hindu spring festival. It is observed on the fifth day of the Indian traditional calendar month of Magha, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of January or February. Although, it has been celebrated since 1600BC 350 years before the birth of Goddess Saraswati. But, it was given an official and huge celebration for the first time when She was worn the Goddess’s Crown. (Vebnita, 2013)
Ionians one of the first civilization used to celebrate new day / spring festival “now-roz” 700BC. Ionians were migrated people from central Greece, Eastern Asia, Middle East and eastern shore of Egypt and France. They were the first people believing in Science, Researches and Experiences, they believed that nature is above everything. Thus, they used to celebrate arrival of spring because it didn’t only bring beauty but provided them meals and an opportunity of study and research. (McClelland, 1996)
Before the arrival of spring is called Now-Roz, Pashtuns used to call it Yakh-Ter “Winter gone” which later changed into “Akhtar”, spring did not only bring them beauty and meal but because of the very deadly winters that time, they had to celebrate for the survival of their selves and their livestock. But, after embracing Islam they started calling “Eid” Akhtar and Akhtar Now-Roz. Omar Khayam, born in May 1048AD did his primary and secondary education in Balkh, Afghanistan and his high and/or professional education from Chief Justice Abo Tahir Abdul Rahman research center in Samarqand. He went on to get further education from Ustad Mufaq a renowned scholar and saint of his time from Herat, Afghanistan. For being extra smart and intelligent he was appointed as an astronomer in the Palace by Kings Shams-ul-Mulk and Malik Shah Saljoqi at the age of 26. Khayam was not only an astrologist and astronomer but a mathematician, linguist, poet and an Islamic Scholar. The King made him a scientific researched center where beside of many other assignments and projects he created the Solar Hijri calendar that fixes the first day “Now-Roz” of the year based on four seasons. It’s worth a mention, that the first day of spring depends on the climate of every region. (Lamb, 1934)
If we look at the long history of Now-Roz “spring festival”, every society, culture and religion across the world celebrate Spring as to thank God for providing the beauty of nature, agriculture, economy and a hope that the half death plants give to human so they too can stand after each fall.
Spirituality / Dignified:
In Islam, Qur’an is the first source not only for dignified and/or prohibition matters but for all laws “actions and inactions”. While Hadith, Consensus, Analogy and Preference are the next sources one after other. Thus, if any subject particularly Dignified is explicitly stated and explained in Quran no other source is accepted. In addition to that, Chapter “SURA” Al-Airaf Verse “Ayah” 32 explicitly talks about the prohibition of things to eat and drink. While, Ayah “Verse” 33 explicitly talks about five prohibited things “inactions”
(33) (7:33) Tell them (O Mohammed): ‘My Lord has only forbidden indecent acts, whether overt or hidden; all manner of sin; wrongful transgression; and [He has forbidden] that you associate with Allah in His divinity that for which He has sent down no sanction; and that you ascribe to Allah things of which you have no sure knowledge that they are from Him.’ (ALLAH, 1997)
Based on the last “5th” part of the verse the act of calling anything HARAM “Prohibited” that is not prohibited by ALLAH itself is HARAM “forbidden”. Thus, prohibiting celebration of Now-Roz itself is a prohibited judgment and/or act.
Furthermore, celebration of Now-Roz is directly encouraging the sacred teachings of Islam. For instance, cleaning homes, eliminating enmity and grudges, free the prisoners, taking showers and wearing new and/or clean dresses, devotion of relatives, render mercy, unity and exchanging gifts. However, prohibited acts explicitly explained in the above verse are not bound by any time and location, they are all time prohibited actions.
ALLAH. (1997). Quran. Mecca: Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
Kriwaczek, P. (2002). In search of Zarathustra. London: Orions.
Lamb, H. (1934). Omar Khayyam: A Life. New York City: Doubleday, Doran.
McClelland, J. (1996). Western Political Thought. California: Routledge.
Nietzsche, F. (1883). Thus Spoke Zarathustra . Berlin: Ernst Schmeitzner.
Vebnita, A. (2013). The Sanskrit. Toronto: Jersi.
Najibullah Azad is an advocate, consultant, critic, writer, poet, political analyst and commentator, researcher and founder of Focus Research & Investigation Center, Kabul.
Sunday March 19, 2017
Kabul (BNA)National sapling plantation program for new solar year and Kabul greenbelt project titled ‘support and respect ANDSF’ were launched yesterday by chief executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and minister of agriculture, irrigation and livestock Asadullah Zamir.
In opening ceremony of the program, minister of agriculture, irrigation and livestock said, “Today in close cooperation with private sector and partnered organizations, 26.2 million saplings are ready for distribution.” He added that besides national sapling plantation program, Kabul greenbelt project covering 883 hectare land including Television, Shir Darwaza and Asmayee mountains, Qargha and Qasaba hillsides would also be launched for further greenery of Kabul city.
It is determined that 20,000 saplings will be planted during coming spring season in framework of the new Kabul greenbelt project, while 125,000 saplings have been planted during fall season of the current solar year in Kabul. Meanwhile, it is also determined that 213,000 saplings will be planted during the coming fall season in Kabul city.
Minister of agriculture, irrigation and livestock asked elders, influential figures, media, religious mullahs and civil society activists to cooperate the ministry in connection with awareness of people for protection and preservation of green sites and irrigation of saplings.