Nowruz celebrations in Akrê, Kurdistan

Newroz or Nowruz (meaning “New Day”) is the New Year’s Day in the Persian calendar. The festival of Nowruz is celebrated for a variety of reasons. In Kurdistan they tell the legend of a king that used to treat his people so bad that a person was sent to assassinate him. After the king was successfully eliminated, the assassin lit a massive fire in order to make people aware that the king was dead. To spread the news, everyone seeing the fire also lit a fire, so everyone in the country would know in the end.
That was only one story I was told. In the Iranian cultural sphere, there is a lot of customs and rites like “Haft Sin” that only exist in countries like Iran and Afghanistan, but not in Kurdish countries.

Although having Iranian and religious Zoroastrian origins, Nowruz has been celebrated by people from diverse ethno-linguistic communities for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians.

Akrê in Kurdistan is also called “The capital of Nowruz”. The simple reason is that it is a very popular destination among both domestic and foreign tourists and that Akrê doesn’t even have 30.000 inhabitants, but hosts double this amount during the festivities during this day.
It can be compared very much to New Year’s Eve in cities like Berlin when it comes to exposure to noise from fireworks and firecrackers. Although Berlin doesn’t see that amount of people firing assault rifles loaded with life bullets.

The city of Akrê.
Three Kurdish princesses all dressed up for Nowruz.
A boy is fixing a friend’s cummerbund.
Visitors make their way up to the mountain stretching behind Akrê.