Sunday, May 28, 2023

Celebrating Nawruz and Women’s Month History in Diaspora

By Nazila Jamshidi 

This year’s Women’s Month History and Nowruz gave Afghans two strong means for gather in solidarity and unity Against intimidation and discrimination.

March is an eventful month for Afghans worldwide, with Women’s History Month starting on March 1st and Nowruz, usually on March 21st. For two decades after the collapse of the first Taliban regime, women’s history month was celebratory. It was a prospect to acknowledge the women’s significant contributions to realizing their fundamental rights, such as access to education, health, justice, and political, social, and economic arenas. It was an occasion through which women would drive in solidarity and sisterhood with one another and all those affected by discrimination and oppression. March was another chance to remind them that patriarchy has excluded them from every walk of life, and only in sisterhood can they stay empowered. 

This year’s women’s history month involved tens of events, including panel discussions, town halls, conferences, and social media campaigns, organized by Afghans worldwide. Once again, they attempted their best to capture the importance of Women’s History Month for the women under an oppressive regime, particularly those who resiliently stand up against the Taliban’s various restrictive and discriminatory rules.

In addition to various means of advocacy executed by women activists outside the country, the diaspora community also highlighted the contributions of women to events in history, culture, and art through the annual celebration of Nowruz. Only in the state of Virginia in the United States three enormous Nowruz celebrations, where hundreds of Afghans with different ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, and political tendencies joined in celebrating this ancient tradition with a rich history. Among them was a festivity organized by a group of Afghans– women and men– from Herat. 

The celebration was along with Nowruz traditional cultural activities combining common practices with local customs such as the Haft-Seen table and Haft-Mewa. Husnia Parsa, a former member of civil society from Herat who prepared the Haft-Seen table of the celebration, says each item on the table is for a specific reason and carries meaningful messages to the people. To her, the Haft-Seen arrangement is a reminder of constant renewal, new hope, and a new life. “Just like Nowruz – a new day– every day is a new start and hope for a better and more prosperous life. It is especially meaningful for Afghans who start their everyday life fighting for a better life.” Said Husnia. 

Poetry, as a popular feature of Nowruz celebrations, was among the main elements of the festival. Female and male poets recited their poems mostly about women’s rights and their cultural contribution. “And now let’s hear a poem for the fighting girls and women of my country! To their fathers and brothers kneeling at the foot of these pains, wishing for the spring of knowledge and progress of the dark season,” started reciting her poem by Sudaba Parnian, a female poet from Herat. 

“In the darkest days of life

Looking for a hole of light

Bloom your green spring trees

Do you see? You are not alone.

A father is by your side

And brotherhood from the bottom of a restless heart

Go up, don’t be afraid, be resistant and firm

From that peak!”

The well-known Afghan song “Molla Mammad Jaan,” originated in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif was sung along with other traditional folk songs specifically for the celebration.

Organizers of the festival believe that valuing and cherishing our cultural heritage and customs is another powerful practice to bring people in solidarity with each other and in unity. “Coinciding Nowruz with women’s month history not only gives us a chance to exchange tales and customs but brings us together to honor the accomplished and prescient women who fight daily to give the new generation of girls a better future.” Said As much as March is a month that commemorates and highlights the past and current contributions of women in society, Nowruz is an acknowledgment of the connection that exists between celebration and actual activism. “We should celebrate our culture and traditions not only for ourselves but for our fellow Afghans who are prohibited from doing so.” Said Khalil Parsa, a prominent member of the civil society from Herat.

Note:The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles.

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