Nowruz festival marks 100 years of Afghan independence

Afghans have been taking part in Nowruz new year celebrations, which have coincided with the countrys centenary of independence. Stefanie Glinski visited the northern city of Mazar-e-sharif to photograph the festivities

Huge crowds have gathered on the streets of Afghanistan to join Nowruz new year/spring equinox celebrations, which in 2019 coincide with the countrys centenary of independence.

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  • Security was tight during Nowruz celebrations in Mazar-e-Sharif, where hundreds of police and military personnel where deployed

Decked out in colourful dresses and carrying national flags and plastic trumpets, revellers filled the usually traffic-clogged streets and famous Blue mosque in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. People from all over the country as well as some neighbouring ones have been joining in the fun to celebrate the year 1398.

Women

  • Women outside the famous Blue mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif

People

Children

  • Children have joined their mothers on the womens section of the Blue mosque

Considered a pagan holiday, Nowruz was banned during the Taliban era, but its traditions have been observed for more than 3,000 years and date to the Zoroastrian era. This year, Afghanistan also remembers the signing of the Anglo-Afghan treaty of 1919, which ended years of war and granted the country full independence.

With another four decades of conflict now shaping much of the countrys daily life, festivities across the city were heavily guarded by police and the military. A week ago, gunfire broke out in the city after the president, Ashraf Ghani, appointed a new police chief, disputed by the provinces former governor whose militia make up the majority of the police force.

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Many visitors said they were not afraid of attacks and hoped to celebrate peacefully. At the Blue mosque, women in blue burqas wailed at the shrine of Hazrat Ali.

Women

Women

  • Women pray and cry at the shrine of Hazrat Ali, a pilgrimage site for Sunni and Shia Muslims. Many have travelled far to celebrate the new year and reflect on the hardships of the previous 12 months

Today is both a happy day and a sad one. I lost two of my children to the war, says Fatima Sediqui, 60, who travelled to Mazar-e-Sharif from the Afghan capital, Kabul. She cries loudly, her hands pressed against the golden doors of the shrine, a pilgrimage site where the bones of Ali, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad, are believed to lie. Prayer beads rest on Sediquis lap as she prays. My house was hit by a mortar during the Taliban times and it killed my daughter and my son, the mother of seven says.

Like Sediqui, many of the hundreds of thousands of guests are visitors to Mazar-e-Sharif.

Children

  • Children enjoy picnics and ice-cream during Nowruz celebrations

Rostam, 45, a Pashto dancer wearing the local shalwar kameez and a small turban, arrived from Sar-e-Pol, a province in the south-west.

Rostam,

  • Rostam, 45, from Sar-e-Pol Province, performs a Pashto dance in Mazar-e-Sharif to celebrate the new year.

Im here to dance, he says. During the Taliban times, we werent allowed to perform dances anymore, but its part of our culture. I grew up in war and this year, were celebrating our countrys independence. I want people to visit Afghanistan and experience our culture. His group of about five men wave their hands to drum and flute playing, tapping their feet to the rhythm.

Men

  • Men sit in the stadium, watching the the last buzkashi game of the season

Nowruz celebrations, which started at sunrise, also mark the end of the buzkashi season a central Asian seasonal sport in which horse-mounted players attempt to place a calf carcass in a goal drawing a throng of men into the outskirts of the city to watch the last game.

Nowruz

  • Buzkashi attracts large crowds of men not a single female was watching

The

Behind the stadium, where the Hindu Kush foothills stretch across the horizon, families are enjoying picnics. Sitting on blankets on the grass, they listen to music from their car speakers. A typical Nowruz meal is a salad made from dried fruit, which is especially popular with children.

Families

  • Families head to the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains, just outside Mazar-e-Sharif city, where they have picnics and listen to music

FamiliesOriginal Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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