My experience of Yezidi New Year Festival
On the 18th of April we got invitation from the inhabitants of the refugee camp to celebrate with them their biggest feast, the Yezidi New Year Festival. After several attempts we were able to enter the camp for the first time. Our friends who often spend their afternoon in the office of Praxis with us were happily welcome us in their homes and they could introduce us their family. The time spent there was longer than we oroginally planned. In the first house we could taste the traditional dishes like dolma, mierr, kibbeh and shilik. Everything was fresh and really delicious, the seasoning of the chicken was perfect. This was the first time in my life when I taste sheep meat. I like the chicken more but it was a new experience and it was really good to try. We have tasted the dolma earlier because the habitants of the camp sometimes give us food as a surprise. This is a tasty combination of rice, spices and traube leaves. Kibbeh is their special pasta what you can eat instead of bread. The fresh kibbeh was made by our host's mother. When we arrived to the house they offered us candys, different fruits like orange, banana. One of the young girl peeled of an orange and gave it to me. The children played with us. The 4 years old boy is a really good athlete, a happy, lively person. It is good to see that the habitants of the camp are really good friends and how they help to each other. To each house belongs only 4 chairs so they always brought from the one flat to the other to have enough seats for us. After the first house we felt like we can't eat more food but there were still two houses waiting for us with sweets, tea and cola. I have never met with the wives of our friends before, but I was amazed how beautiful they are. They wore pretty clothes, they were fresh and well-groomed even after the all day cooking. We saw red poppy flowers and colored eggs on the table what according to religion bring good luck to the homes and bless young couples with fertility. We played games with boiled colored eggs in every house. We had to knock together the eggs and the winner of the game was that person whose egg didn't crash. We got gifts everywhere, they were happy if we took chocolates and eggs home. As soon as the weather has cooled down the dance started. There was a big football field in the camp which was transformed into a dance floor for this special occasion. All young people participated in the dance and we were pleased to show us. The elderly moved aside to play card games. After the dance the evening was not over yet. Our friend invited us to their house to smoke nargile. We talked, ate, drank beer. It was a great occasion to know each other better and learn something new about the yezidi culture.
The background of Yezidi New Year Festival:
The first wendesday of April is the biggest celebration for Yazidi religion people. They believe that Tawûsê Melek the 'Peacock Angel' who represents God on the face of Earth comes down to the people every year at this time. They hold that it was the day when God created Tawûsê Melek which represents the begining of the new year. This spring day is the symbol of the remembrance, renewal and fertility.
The first wednesday after April 14th is red wednesday. The Peacock angel descented to the earth to calm the lifeless earth, bless with peace and fertility like the dazed colours of the peacock. This is the oldest feast in Mesopotamia. The celebration begins on Tuesday evening with candle ignition which announce the spring.
The coloring of eggs connects to the Easter tradition. These are the symbols of Ishtar who is the most widely worshiped goddess of love, fertility and war in Babylonian and Assyrian religion. The red, blue, green, yellow colored eggs are repsesent the rainbow which appeared when Tawûsê Melek visited the Earth at Lalish. These colored eggs and red poppy flowers brings good luck to the homes and bless young couples with fertility.
Yezidis believes that on the Red Wednesday the spirits of the dead return to thear graves. On this day they share the food, dance and music with the soul of living and dead. These offerings include oranges, apples and colored eggs. The graves are decorated with eggs, red flowers.The boiling eggs represents how the earth was at first liquid and only then became solidified at Lalish. In this month the marriage is forbidden, the enemies are often shake hands at this time.
Written by: Ágnes Illés