Balkh, Kabul celebrate Nawroz but without customary flag-hoisting

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Nawroz, the solar new year, was celebrated in a different way this year in the northern province of Balkh, as no “flag hoisting” happened after the government said it will not officially celebrate Nawroz festival.

The festival was celebrated in past years with the presence of government officials and thousands of people including foreigners attending the ceremony.

A special ceremony of Janda Bala (flag hoisting) was traditionally held at Rawza-e-Mubarak (Hazrat Ali Shrine) in the provincial capital of Mazar-e-Sharif, but this year no such celebration took place.

“This year, unfortunately there was no flag hoisting. This is a tradition which has been performed for thousands of years,” said Ahmad Sharif, a resident of Balkh.

“Nawroz was a glorious ceremony in the past years in Mazar-e-Sharif. This is the tradition of the people,” said Mirwais, a resident of Badakhshan who came to Mazar-e-Sharif to attend the festival.

However, many influential Afghan leaders in a greeting message welcomed the new year (Nawroz) and wished the Afghans a happy year ahead. Faqir Hossein, 72, came from Kabul to take part in the festival of Nawroz. “Everyone was trying to be part of the flag hoisting event. They were chanting “Allah Akbar” with happiness,” he said.

The people who came to Mazar-e-Sharif to attend the ceremony of the new year said they wished the festival would have been held.

Provincial officials said there are many other programs including sports.

“The department of information and culture have many programs including buzkashi, and poetry competitions,” said Ata Mohammad Saho, head of the provincial department of information and culture.

Nawroz was previously also celebrated with many festivals including music, cultural and sports events and various types of exhibition.

Meanwhile, hundreds gathered in Kabul city on Monday–the first day of the 1401 solar year–to celebrate the traditional event of Nawroz at the Karta-e-Sakhi Shrine.

The participants of the event hoisted a flag (Janda Bala), which is traditionally done every year for Nawroz.

“The festival happened in the early morning when there was a smaller number of people,” said Mohammad Baseer, a resident of Kabul. “We hoped our leaders would hold this ceremony and the people would be celebrating it together,” said Bilal a resident of Kabul.

However, the current government of the Islamic Emirate announced that there would be no official celebration of Nawroz this year in Afghanistan.

Sayed Suhrab, a resident of Paktia, came to Kabul with his family to participate in the event of Karta-e-Sakhi Shrine. “Last year there was a large crowd, but this year there were not so many people,” he said.

Other residents of Kabul gathered in the Tapa-e-Gul Ghondi area for celebration.

“There were a lot of people and many families in previous years. This year there were a lot of single people, but the number of families was low,’ said Mahmood, who came to Tapa-e-Gul Ghondi.

Many Afghan citizens said Nawroz was a traditional and ancient event and suggested that this day should be celebrated to bring happiness to the faces of the people. In the western province of Herat, families came out of their homes and celebrated in entertainment areas.

The people in Herat are celebrating Nawroz through a special event—which is called Haftsin—involving a combination of seven kinds of fruits and vegetables whose name starts with the letter “S” in Dari.

“This is our cultural heritage. This culture will remain forever,” said Ali Zamani, a resident of Herat.

The Afghans are celebrating Nawroz as their country faces an unprecedent humanitarian crisis, with millions of children suffering from malnutrition and millions of others also facing starvation and a high-level of poverty. —Tolonews

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