Navruz is one of the most ancient of holidays that has survived from the depths of centuries to present day. It is one of the biggest holidays of the Aryan people, including the Tajik people, and other peoples and cultures celebrate it under the same name. Each region in Tajikistan celebrates Navruz with its own distinct local customs and traditions.
In Badakhshan, Navruz is celebrated as “Navruz of Sultan” in some places. In Shugnan and Roshtqala, it is called “Khidir ayom” (Great Holiday). In these places, people greet each other with the phrase “Shogun bahor muborak!” (“Happy spring”) and the answer is “Bar rui Shumo muborak”, which literally means “Happy to your face as well”.
In Shugnan, Roshtqala and Ishkashim, two brooms are used to clean the house, one called “Savorajorub” (this is attached to a long stick) and the other “Piyadajorub” (without the stick). With “Savorajorub” the dust from the ceiling and walls of the house is removed and it is thrown on the roof through the hole in the ceiling called rudz, and by this action, all the evil forces that have accumulated during the year are expelled from the house. With “Piyadajorub” the lower parts of the house (chalak and nekh) and the floor are cleaned. Also, in the early morning of the first day of “Khidir ayom” or Navruz, the man of the house would take a few willow buds, cut the branches with a knife in the shape of pea shells, and children with the phrase “Shogun bahor muborak” would bring them into the house and the owner of the house sprinkles flour on their right shoulder with the intention of purity and peace and puts the branches between the walls of the house.
Kiloguzguz, another local tradition, is a type of “trick or treat” done by children and teenagers. On the evening of the “Khonatakon” ceremony, which is entirely dedicated to cleaning and tidying up the house, children and young people go their neighbours’ or relatives’ house, climb the roof and through a long scarf, or several scarves tied together, from the hole in the ceiling (rudz) to the house and recite a special poem. A slice of bread is tied in one corner of the scarf, and the host takes the bread, and after the song is finished, he puts something on the scarf at the request of the person who came for kiloguzguz. According to the tradition of the mountainous Tajiks, everything that is requested from the owner of the house this evening must be done or given.
Special dishes are also made on this day. Given the cold climate, women prepare dishes that are supposed to be warm. Bat, kochi, noni ravghan, consisting of milk, bread, and butter, boj, osh, amoch are an incomplete list of dishes prepared by Badakhshan women on Navruz.
The people of Kuhistoni Mastchoh district celebrate Navruz as the biggest and most important national holiday, and the first festivities begin in Paldorak village and end in the picturesque village of Rog. Until the end of March in all villages of the district, Navruz is celebrated as an ancient Aryan tradition with honouring the heritage of Jamshed, the ancestral New Year and the revival of spring, the beginning of the planting season and the eternal connection between man and nature. The end of Navruz in Rog village is not without reason since Rog Navruz is celebrated on the same day as the Navruz of Bukhara, and the students of Bukhara madrassas who spend the winter in the village would also join the celebration. In this village, Navruz is also called “Sari soli Rog” or “Rog’s Start of the Year”.
Navruz is an important and blessed holiday for the people of Zerafshan, especially the people of Panjakent. The people of this valley eagerly await the ancient holiday of our ancestors, which was celebrated in ancient Sarazm and later in the ancient Panjakent (Panjkat, Bunjikat or Panjekat) and prepare to celebrate it with bright and enlightened spirit.
Navruz in Panjakent also begins with cleaning homes. The wisdom of this tradition is explained by the old women of Panjakent, who heard it from their ancestors: “With the advent of spring and the revival of nature, the human body is renewed. By cleaning one’s house and getting rid of broken and old utensils, blessings enter the house and remove sorrow”.
This ancient tradition is mainly practised by working elders and wealthy men. Juftbaroron is the beginning of the planting season. One of the old men takes a yoke of spores in the presence of all the villagers, and the other takes two or three cups of wheat in his shirt and throws them on the ground. Other elders turn to the qibla and pray that the new year will be full, and the harvest will be abundant.
On the morning of Navruz, the people of Rasht open their doors and wait for their guests. During and after the holidays, visiting each other’s homes and visiting the elders of the clan and the village in general, public walks, cultural events and sports competitions, organization of festive markets, beginning of the spring planting and spring planting are the traditions of Navruz.
In each village, a pair of bulls plow the land, and one of the elders begins the sowing season by sprinkling wheat. It is imperative to receive blessings from the elderly during the day. Rasht people say: “The way you celebrate Navruz impacts how you spend the entire year”. According to a local legend, on the day of Navruz, angels descend to earth and bring joy and happiness to people. They only enter a house where there is security, stability, and mutual understanding.
On the day of Navruz, a white tablecloth is spread in the house of Rasht people. A variety of food, sweets, bakery products and, sumanak (a traditional sweet meal made of wheat) are placed on it. On the eve of the holiday, houses are cleaned. Old and broken things are thrown away, debts are paid off and peace is made the rivals on this day.
Text by Khujanazar Aslamshoev