Navruz in Tajikistan
Tajikistan’s biggest annual celebration is the spring festival of Navruz, literally “New Day”. Navruz marks the beginning of the Persian New Year, which starts at the spring equinox. (The exact date of the celebration depends on the timing of the equinox). The roots of the festival are Zoroastrian – the religion the Persians before they converted to Islam. For the Tajiks, Navruz represents a festival of friendship and renewal of all living beings. Humping over the fire on the last Wednesday of the year is practiced by the Tajiks as well. One tradition that has survived in Tajikistan is gathering of wild flowers by children in the villages. They bring the flowers back and while wearing colourful attire walk around the village, knock on people’s doors and present them with a flower. This happens one week before Navruz and there are many old folk songs that are sang by the children during the event.
House cleaning is done before the celebrations start and this includes washing and polishing all the dishes in the household. The lady of the household has a few specific tasks. Before the New Year arrives, she places two sweeping brushes ( jaroo ) that are painted red outside the door just before the sunrise and keeps it there all the day. After the sun is fully risen, more house hold items are brought outside and a red cloth is hanged outside. The red colour signifies the household welcoming the spring-sun and by opening doors and windows the new spring air is welcomed into the homes.
Nowruz morning starts with a sweet breakfast. New colourful clothes with spring motives (flowers) are worn. Special food and sweets are prepared. All kinds of games including playing with eggs, bird fighting, slaughtering a goat and wrestling are part of the celebrations. Women also prepare a paste by cooking sumalak, a porridge made from sprouted wheat that is traditionally eaten on the spring holiday. A major part of the celebration is the selection of a queen for the Navruz that has become a national celebration and is broadcast nationally by the TV stations in Tajikistan. The celebration includes a major parade with young women dressed in their national dresses carrying the ceremonial objects used on the Navruz spread with young men and women dancing and musicians playing. March 21st and 22nd are official Navruz holidays in Tajikistan, but celebrations start before these dates and continue afterwards.
Celebration of Navruz in Tajikistan is an incredible eyeful in its beauty.
On these festive days spring comes entirely to the ancient Tajik land and it may be finally seen in its fine
splendor. The caressing sun cherishes the mountain peaks and lucid snowdrops fight their way through slobber. These first spring florets are the main harbingers of the festival. Traditionally, village children give them out as a symbol of the beginning of spring.
Tajikistan prepares for Navruz in advance, first of all, spiritually: by paying debts and forgiving old insults. This day of the holiday, people put on clean clothing, symbolizing a complete expurgation. Rituals with fire dating back to Zoroastrian roots of the holiday are obligatory this day. All household should come
round a bonfire or torch alight in sign of good hope against the best.
By lunch time, hosts invite guests to festive table, served with the dishes traditional for Navruz holiday: sumanak (concoction from wheat sprouts), sambusa (sausage roll from puff-paste or rissole with greens), sabzi (vegetables) and so on. All in all, there should be seven ritual dishes beginning with “S”.
Navruz is widely celebrated both in cities and villages. This day everybody goes to the main square to watch festive shows participated with singers, dancers and musicians. It is impossible to imagine the celebration of Navruz in villages without horserace, national sports contests, cockfighting, flying the kites and pigeons, and traditional goat snatching (buzkhkasi).