Women Celebrate Nawroz in Badakhshan by Cooking Samanak
The Samanak Festival is one of the few remaining cultural events in the region. It is celebrated in Afghanistan and other countries around the world during the first few days of the solar new year, Nawroz. It draws many people from different parts of Afghanistan, allowing them to come together to share their joys and sorrows. This ancient Afghan holiday is typically celebrated by young girls and women, who take on the majority of the festival’s responsibilities. Even though Samanak, a local Afghan sweet food made of wheat, is prepared with the start of the solar new year, people in northeastern parts of the country celebrate the Samanak Festival with greater respect and reverence.
The Samanak festival is a popular cultural event in the northern and northeastern provinces of Afghanistan, including Badakhshan, where people celebrate Nawroz and appreciate the traditional Nawroz customs passed down from their ancestors. Additionally, it is a tradition in Badakhshan province for both men and women to cook and celebrate the Samanak festival in order to wish each other happiness and joy.
Farhangrez, a resident of Badakhshan, organized a Samanak celebration in her home and celebrated Nawroz with her family this year. In an interview with Hasht-e-Subh, she stated that Nawroz is a tradition that has been passed down to people from their ancestors and that she would do anything to maintain this historical event annually.
Farhangriz noted that cooking Samanak is one of the historic festivals and ancient cultures of the women in Badakhshan, where the first day of the Solar new year is honored in many different ways. She stated that they want to preserve cultural traditions in Badakhshan, so before preparing the Samanak, they prepare the Samanak leaves. They take wheat grain, clean it, and place it in a jar to produce Samanak. She stated that, compared to red grain, white wheat is saltier. Although wheat irrigation takes eight days, they keep it for five days in relatively warm weather. Then, the green grain is thoroughly battered to remove the water. She concluded that samanak’s flavor gets better when it gets hotter.
In addition to the Samanak Festival, which is part of their ancient culture, the people of the northern provinces of Afghanistan also view wheat plants as a symbol of plant growth in springtime, when Nawroz is celebrated in various locations. It is customary for women and girls in Badakhshan to attend the Samanak festival on the first night of the new year in order to offer prayers and wish for the best in their lives.
The Taliban view Nawroz celebrations as being in violation of Islamic principles. After they assumed control of the government and removed Nawroz from the calendar, they instructed government employees not to observe the festival. According to the women of Badakhshan, this year’s Nawroz celebrations are not as joyous as they used to be, since they are taking place under the Taliban’s rule and they are unable to celebrate Nawroz in public, as they were accustomed to doing in parks with the general public.