Navroz Festival: Celebrating the new year with the advent of spring

At QAU, students and visitors mark centuries-old Persian tradition.


Maryam Usman March 19, 2014
A diplomat cuts a traditional bread. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:


The drizzle couldn’t dampen their spirits. Dancing in reckless abandon, they were celebrating a new day, a new spring and a new year. The students of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) History Society in collaboration with the Iranian consulate marked the Navroz Festival with near-palpable fervour in the football ground of the varsity on Tuesday.


Marking the Persian New Year, the festival heralds spring and the season of harvest. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Navroz Day in 2010. As part of the cultural tradition, people sow plants and congregate in festivities with music, dance and food.

“Before Islam was propagated in this land, Navroz was a national event. It symbolises new beginnings and starts with prayers for peace and prosperity. In a sense, it is like Eid,” said Muhammad Iqbal, managing director of Baltistan Tours Pakistan, who has been attending the festival at the university for about six years now.

“It is still celebrated in the northern parts of the country,” he added, reminiscing about the festivity back home in his native Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). “It is a time for renewal and cherishing our age-old values of love, harmony and brotherhood.” In G-B, he said, the celebration starts on March 1 and continues till March 21.

Thematic stalls representing the cultures of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan were set up with indigenous ornamentation, food and traditional attire. Banners of Central Asian states were also plastered in the rain-soaked tents while schoolchildren paraded in uniforms or fancy dresses to mark the joyous occasion.

Shakir Ali, a student of Archeology, stood by his stall showcasing Gandhara art and ethnological objects from the Indus Valley Civilisation. Relics and seals with sculpted Buddha and medieval symbols are remnants of a culture that has been obscured by the onset of modernisation.

Clad in shimmery dresses, the Afghan girls lingered around their stage, offering sweet delights to visitors and flaunting the hand-embroidered clothes and home accessories.

Swirling in concentric circles, men and boys from various ethnicities performed folk dances. Displaying enthusiasm and spontaneity amid choreographed moves, they were one with the pulsating beats that reverberated in the air.

Face-painting, personality contests and a love jail kept the visitors engaged while the aroma of simmering barbeque and the syrupy haft mewa from Afghanistan had food enthusiasts devouring the tastes of the rich culture.

Diplomats from Iran and Afghanistan attended the opening ceremony, sharing the importance of the cultural festival. QAU Vice-Chancellor Aitezaz Ahmed and head of the history department Razia Sultana shed light on celebrating the event at the varsity.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2014.

COMMENTS (3)

US CENTCOM | 7 years ago | Reply

To the Pakistani people who are celebrating the Nowroz, and the Afghan, Iranian Diasporas living in Pakistan, we, the US CENTCOM - Digital Engagement Team, would like to wish you a very Happy Nowroz. It is great to witness diplomats from Iran and Afghanistan attending the Nowroz ceremony. Following the historic theme of what this day of Nowroz represents, we hope that this spring may bring peace, harmony and progress in the entire region.

Parvez | 7 years ago | Reply

A celebration to rejoice in the coming of Spring..........what could be a better reason ?

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