No Celebrations Marking the Start of Nawroz this Year

Hundreds of visitors from all provinces of Afghanistan would travel to Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial center of Balkh province, to celebrate Nawroz. Balkh was the center of Nawroz celebrations for those who also wished to visit Mazar-e-Sakhi, the temple of the third caliph of Islam, Hazrat Ali, which is located in the center of Balkh province. At the same time, the government would announce the commencement of spring classes in schools and universities.

Mazar-e-Sharif has been peaceful for the past two years since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. The inhabitants of Mazar-e-Sharif informed Hasht-e-Subh that there have been no festivities for the celebration of Nawroz, the solar new year, for the past two years. The Taliban officials in the province have instructed government workers to attend to their duties on Nawroz and have declared that schools and universities will only be open to male students.

In a conversation with Hasht-e-Subh, Marjan (a pseudonym), a resident of Mazar-e-Sharif, stated that people have lost their enthusiasm for celebrating Nawroz. She said, “People used to wear new clothes, clean their homes, and celebrate Nawroz outside their homes. Unfortunately, most of the people I know have lost their passion for Nawroz.”

Businesspeople in the Balkh province used to support female local music singers who performed songs in the Rabia-Balkhi market, which was exclusively for women. This market used to host exhibitions of household goods and handicrafts during the former republic regime in Afghanistan. However, there is no longer anything like that; the Taliban have silenced everything.

Shamail Ahmadi (a pseudonym), a former businesswoman in Mazar-e-Sharif, informed Hasht-e-Subh that in the past, people were enthusiastic about celebrating Nawroz, preparing various local dishes that would draw in former government officials who visited this place in the past. However, the Taliban have prohibited all citizens from celebrating Nawroz, deeming it Haram, forbidden.

Nawroz used to be an opportunity for people to gain insight into the government’s plans for the upcoming years, however, the Taliban have denied the people their rights and have a negative outlook on Nawroz and other cultural events in Afghanistan.

Shabir Sarwari, a former government official in Balkh, informed Hasht-e-Subh that the Taliban had requested their government staff to work on Nawroz, March 23. Despite not celebrating Nawroz, the Taliban invited the Balkh media on that day to announce the commencement of the new educational year in Afghanistan through their proclamation.

One week prior to Nawroz, local media had the opportunity to register with the Balkh Provincial Information and Culture Department in order to participate in the official festivities. Otherwise, they would miss out on the chance to take part in the Nowruz celebrations. A journalist in Balkh informed Hasht-e-Subh that the Taliban had no plans or arrangements for the celebration of Nawroz.

Mazar-e-Sharif was once the focus of attention for all Afghans, who would gather there to celebrate Nawroz on the eve of the start of the solar new year. The city was illuminated at night, but the Taliban have destroyed everything, including its beauty, leaving the people who used to live there happily, make various local foods, and travel through the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh, in despair.