By Laman Ismayilova

bakuAfter the long, dark, winter days, spring is literally a breath of fresh air. The snow is melting, flowers are blooming, and the days are getting warmer.

Novruz, a Zoroastrian holiday, marks the beginning of spring in Azerbaijan. Novruz bayram is now one of the most anticipated holidays in Azerbaijan

Marking the first day of spring and the beginning of a new year is one of Azerbaijan’s most colorful holidays. Being a family holiday, Novruz is celebrated on March 20-21. But, it all begins four weeks before the actual festivities.

Every Tuesday night, small bonfires are prepared outside which everyone jumps over, expressing wishes for a good and happy year without grief or pain. Each of the four Tuesdays is represented by its own symbol: the first one is water, the second is flame, the third is earth, and the fourth is wind. The water renews nature, refreshing it and preparing it for the new year. Fire signifies rebirth; earth signifies the revival of the earth; and wind represents the arrival of spring and the blossoming of trees.

Noruz is rich with ancient traditions and games. ‘Khidir Ilyas’ (the symbol of fertility and blossom), ‘Kos-Kosa’— an entertaining game (symbolises the incoming of spring) and fortunetelling are among them. The important Novruz symbols are khoncha (a tray with sweets, nuts fruits and dyed eggs on) and samani( green shoots from wheat seeds).

The holiday was given the status of an official holiday in Azerbaijan by a presidential decree dated 13 March 1990. In 2009, Novruz was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and since then,March 21 was declared the International Day of Novruz.

Traditionally Novruz is marked in Azerbaijan with the annual festival, “Maidan Bazaar” set up near the Gosha Gala Gates for several days. Here, Baku residents and guests enjoy many interesting events, including the performance of wrestlers – Pehlevans , rope-walkers and magicians, as well as artists of the children’s theater.

During the festivities, the visitors will enjoy mugham and classical music pieces, national songs of different nations, modern pop and jazz music. Besides, the participants will be able to cook national sweets or wave carpets.

This year, Nizami Cinema Center invites everyone to enjoy also festivity scheduled for March 18-19.

During the festivity, visitors will enjoy beautiful dances, funny games and other surprises. Young viewers will meet with beloved Novruz characters- Kechel, Kosa and Bahar gizi (Spring girl).

Published on Azer News