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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.
Happy Now-Roz
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.
Najibullah Azad

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.

Saturday March 18, 2017

Kabul (BNA) Cooking of Samanak is part of Afghan traditions in preparation for New Year’s celebration. This tradition is usual in different part of Afghanistan. Samanak has been mixed with the religious believers of people and majority consider it as a dedication of the first day of the year. People believe that anyone who needs something for example a pregnant women who needs a boy, dedicates. If her need was met, she would cook Smanak every year. Ferozah a lady who cooks every year this dedication, said “Seven years ago while I was pregnant, attended a Samanak cooking occasion. In that night I vowed if Allah wishes to give me a son, I would cook Samanak every year. At the order of Allah the Almighty, I gave birth a son after nine daughters. Hereafter, every year I cook Samanak with full enthusiasm.
Talking on preparation for Samanak, she added, “Wheat is cleaned and washed, then it is put in a tray, every day its irrigated and protected in a cold place and movement is restricted to this place. Those who move to that place or touch it, should be already abluted. Because Samanak is very delicate and if an unclean person touches it, wheat would be spoiled and Samanak would be fermented. Talking on sweetness of Samanak, she added, “Samanak is cooked without oil and sugar. Samanak gets sweet from its roots and turns red due to its green color. Ferozah went on to say, whenever Samanak grows well and matured, a number of women gather, take a clean tablecloth, put the matured wheat on it. Each women who has a vow, takes a batch of green wheat and cut it. Then count it, if it was odd, it means that Allah will give her need and other women pour other green wheats on her head and make pleasure. If it was even, it means that Allah would not meet her need.
She added, “Then the women who took vow, invite friends and relatives women to Samanak cooking ceremony. They cut Samanak to pieces and put it in a meat machine. Then put the grinded wheat in a separate dish in water and separate its extract. Then put the juice in a big copper pot and make fire under it and cook it. Its cooking takes several hours and usually Samanak is cooked during night. Women and young girls stire it respectively until next morning by a Skimmer.  She added,, “Seven times water is poured into the big pot and women and girls sing special song of Samanak and play circle. Some people add walnut to Samanak pot. She explained, next morning, the older woman opens the cover of pot and pray. Women believe that signs of rosary, moon and stars could be seen inside the pot. Then she distributes it to everybody including neighbors, relatives, and friends

.Karima Malikzada

Friday, March 17, 2017
Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan looks forward to learning from China’s experience and success in poverty alleviation and expects to see significant achievements of bilateral cooperation in 2017, said Janan Mosazai, Afghan Ambassador to China. The ambassador made these remarks in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhuanet. Afghanistan salutes and feels happy about China’s achievement in lifting hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty over the past nearly 40 years, the ambassador said. “It is a historic achievement” and “a direct contribution to poverty alleviation and elimination globally”, he added. Afghanistan makes poverty reduction and elimination an extremely important priority, the ambassador introduced. Afghanistan looks forward to learning from China in this field, hoping to gain help from the Chinese people and introduce China’s poverty alleviation experience in Afghanistan, he said.
Apart from cooperation in poverty alleviation, the ambassador also put emphasis on more bilateral cooperation brought by the Belt and Road Initiative.
Afghanistan welcomes and supports the Belt and Road Initiative as it is a “transformative idea” in broadening cooperation in many areas, such as economy, infrastructure, people-to-people exchanges and security, he said. Afghanistan sits on a significant location within the Belt and Road Initiative, the ambassador said. The significant location, he hoped, will “serve as a land bridge and connectivity hub in the ‘Heart of Asia’ region”.
The ambassador spoke highly of the achievements made between Afghanistan and China in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative in 2016.
He highlighted the launch of the cargo service train linking east China’s Jiangsu Province and northern Afghanistan’s Hairatan port last year. The train connection will allow for increase in trade between the two countries and facilitate the transportation of Afghan products to China, which is a huge market, the ambassador said. He also pinned high hope for significant achievements to be made between the two countries this year.
The ambassador said he expected to see a comprehensive discussion between the two countries during the Belt and Road forum for international cooperation to be held this May. The forum will inject more energy and impetus into the implementation of projects between China and Afghanistan, he believed.

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