2019 March 21 - Spring Equinox: Happy Nowruz! Happy Nawroz! Happy New Day!

A blessed Nowruz to my United Nations colleagues and friends – and all the people of the world that I have met and come across in my host UN mission countries – who celebrate this much-awaited New Day ~ New Year at the start of springtime!

I have been celebrating Nowruz since my years in Afghanistan – where I worked with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama).

March 21 in the life:

“March 21 was officially recognized in 2010 as International Nowruz Day by the United Nations at the request of countries including Afghanistan, Albania, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

But it’s (sic) reach is even wider. More than 300 million people worldwide celebrate Nowruz – and have celebrated it for more than 3,000 years – from the Balkans to the Black Sea Basin to Central Asia to the Middle East and elsewhere...” –CNN

Happy to have been in Nowruz-celebrating country – Afghanistan – just when the United Nations recognized March 21 as “International Nowruz Day”!

Comprehensive CNN feature on Nowruz!

“More than 300 million people will celebrate Nowruz (and you should, too)” – highly recommended reading and annual celebration!

Persian New Year? Nowruz will always be Afghan New Year to me...

Persia must have covered a wide swath of land in millenniums past – so much so that this springtime New Day ~ New Year celebrated from the Balkans to the Near East and the Middle East is dubbed “Persian New Year”!

But, to me – this Unama-n that first experienced Nowruz in Afghanistan – Nowruz will always be “Afghan New Year.”

Well, I may have to edit that to “Afghan & Kurdistan New Year” as I was surprised to learn that the Iraqis in Northern Iraq – in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) – celebrate Nowruz as well!

Unfortunately, I still have to be in the midst of Nowruz celebrations in Erbil and/or Kurdistan – as I was either in Baghdad or on relocation or in between missions over the three years that I was with Unami – the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.

The KRI government puts on a splash of shows at Nowruz – including airplane fly-bys!

Most memorable: Nowruz 2011 in Bamyan, Afghanistan:

My most memorable Nowruz was in 2011 – when I have been deployed as the Regional Public Information Officer for the Central Highlands Region of Afghanistan.

There in Hazarajat – the Land of the Hazaras – the Hazaras would gather for ceremonies at the foot of the now empty cavern of the giant “Big Buddha” where once stood the limestone cliff-carved standing statue of the Buddha in this once-Buddhist capital along the ancient Silk Road.

The Hazarajat capital Bamyan – where Unama-CHR was based – was the home of two giant cliff-carved Buddhas – “Big Buddha” and the “Small Buddha” – both of which were targeted for destruction by the Taliban just before Nowruz in 2001.

“The Buddhas of Bamyan were two 6th-century monumental statues of Gautam Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 kilometres northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres...

“They were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols... International opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas, which in the following years was primarily viewed as an example of the extreme religious intolerance of the Taliban.” –Wikipedia