- Kurds celebrating Nowrooz in Istanbul, 2006.
- The Kurds celebrate this Mazdean feast between 18th till 21th March. The Persian word Nowrooz is pronounced as Newruz by the Kurds. It is one of the few “peoples celebrations” that has survived and predates all the major religious festivals.
(Photo by Bertil Videt).
He was so happy that I told him that. He started telling stories of Nowrooz and how, as a child, with his family used to go out and picnic during the Nowrooz celebrations in the park, etc.
My Assyrian friend, who is racially, linguistically and religiously different than me was also celebrating Nowrooz like the rest of us. Which made me think how powerful is Neroz, and so are our other celebrations too: jashn-e Mehregān, jashn-e Tiregān, shab-e-Yaldā, jashn-e sadeh, etc. All our celebrations can be celebrated regardless of one’s ethnic origin, religion, etc.
Indeed, we, as a people have been secular for thousands of years already.
Who can deny the coming of spring (Nowrooz), summer (Tiregān), autumn (Mehregān) and winter (shab-e-Yaldā)? However, the same cannot be true of the Westerners, who’s calendar is dotted with religious celebrations: Christmas, New Year, Easter, etc.
But what is secularism exactly? As the descendants of a great civilization who used to follow the teachings of Zarathustra (Asho Zardosht), it is only natural that we look closer to his teachings to reach the roots of our culture’s secularism.
First, there is only one rule and that is: there is nothing higher than the Truth. There are however many truths and God, also known as Ahura Mazda (Ormazd), is the sum of all the truths. However, truth does not come from God, but comes from all living beings who are capable of reasoning.
Reasoning is the capacity to decide Good from Bad, and the more informed we are, the better the choice, from where the importance of education and knowledge.
As followers of the teachings of Zarathustra and soldiers of Ahura Mazda, our ancestors were thirsty for knowledge and as a consequence established the world’s first and grandest university in Gond-e-Shāpur. As followers of the truth and as believers of the god of all the truths, Ahura Mazda, our people were open to all new ideas and peoples.
One prime example of the greatness of this philosophy is Cyrus the Great, who created humanity’s first human rights declaration, who freed the Jews from Babylon and saved them from extermination. When Cyrus the Great entered Babylon, he prayed to the gods of the locals and strictly gave orders to respect the newly conquered peoples’ religions.
Secularism comes from this philosophy of respect of the Truth, for the Truth does not know race, colour, gender or language. Anyone who says or works for the Truth is worthy of respect even if it is one’s enemy.
Yes, we are descendants of a great civilization.
The West wants to bring secularism to us yet we have more experience at being secular than them already. If they are truly secular, than they should first start to change their Christmas, Easter and their New Year, to non-religious celebrations. But if they do that, they’ll become like us!
We have everything to be proud and powerful again, for all the right reasons; we just have to learn about who we are. Until then, the barbarians of the east of the past, and the barbarians of the west of the present, will continue to roll over us like they’re doing right now, when we have all that is needed to stand with our heads up against them.
I say to all my compatriots in Iraq: do not fall into this Sunnite/Shiite trap, it does not concern us at all. And if anyone tells you secularism is not the way, then tell them what I just wrote above.