The Ancient Balkh on the Occasion of Nowruz Celebration: Residents of Balkh Call for an Official Celebration of Nowruz

The year 1400, which is now close to an end, was full of dark shaded images that will be recorded in the history as Dark Year of the 1400s. On the occasion of welcoming the New Year of 1401, Mazar-e-Sharif, with a long history of hosting tourists and guests from across the country on the occasions of New Year celebration is on the verge of being decorated for welcoming the people from around the country for celebrating Nowruz.

Two days are left till the end of 1400 Hijri. Residents of Balkh in cooperation with Mazar-e-Sharif Municipality are decorating and cleaning the city to welcome the tourists from around the country who travel long routes to celebrate Nowru in the ancient city of Balkh. In the past, this event was being celebrated officially with the presence of high-ranking government officials and the government was publishing posters and congratulating the nation with slogans of hope and peace for a good and prosperous year ahead. But considering the changes in the political arena of the country, the people are not sure if the Taliban rebels allow to celebrate Nowruz, since this is against their moral.

The New Year’s Eve in Balkh is well known as Red Flower Ceremony and the residents of Balkh province are hopeful that there will not be any interference by Taliban concerning this historical event, which has long been celebrated. Jumauddin is a resident of Balkh province and has taken the preparation for celebrating the event as in the past, but he fears if the Taliban allow them to have some good times.

On the other hand, Taliban members in Mazar-e-Sharif municipality have shown interest and readiness to welcome guests from around the country during the New Year. Qudratullah Tariq, the Acting Mayor of Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif has confirmed that preparations are in placed to welcome guests on the occasion of the New Year. “People from across Afghanistan will visit Balkh province for fun and tourism, and we have made the necessary preparations to receive the guests,” the Acting Mayor of Balkh stated.

One of the agendas on the day of occasion is raising the Sakhi Flag and Taliban Mayor for Balkh has commented that decision on this matter is not taken yet.

Along other events that are being celebrated and entertained during the first day of the New Year, Raising Sakhi Flag is one of the main agendas of the first day of the New Year in the shrine of Imam Ali. The same flag is being raised in Shakhi Shrine in Kabul too.  The respective flag is about 20 meter long and remains raised for forty days. It is believed that the celebration of Nowruz in Mazar-e-Sharif continues for forty days.

In addition to celebrating Nowruz, there are certain other customs practiced on the occasion of the event. Those who are engaged usually exchange gifts and arrange family gatherings on this occasion. “These gathering used to be very flourishing and people used to spend considerable amount of money for purchasing gifts, but considering the current financial crises and purchase power of the people, this year would be different with assumptions of 50% decrease in new year gifts purchases.” Stated by a fish trader in the market of Maza-e-Sharif.

Though there has not been any official notice from the Taliban, but with respect to their ideologies, the Ministry of Virtue of Taliban does not entertain the event so far. They view the celebration of Nowruz as a non-Islamic event. But they have not officially announced any restrictions on celebration of this matter yet.