Turkey’s Kurds celebrate Newroz in homes amid coronavirus fears

Turkey’s Kurds are celebrating Newroz, the Kurdish festival welcoming spring, in their homes instead of  the customary nationwide street festivals in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has cancelled this year’s mass celebrations, which has seen attendance from up to one million people in the country. 

"This year we are celebrating Newroz from our houses, windows & balconies because of the #coronavirus pandemic. We are staying home, staying safe,’’ HDP said in a statement  shared on its English Twitter account.

Newroz, which marks the spring equinox, is celebrated on March 21 not just by Turkey’s Kurdish population of some 15 million, but by many peoples in the region under different names. 

Rooted in Iranian and Zoroastrian cultures, Newroz is celebrated by Kurds and Iranians, in addition to nations in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Traditional celebrations to mark the day include jumping over bonfires, which people are simulating with candles this year.

Jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş took to Twitter to share a Newroz message.

"As millions, we were unable to celebrate Newroz. But I believe that we will (once again) celebrate it during healthy and free days in fields of millions and millions,’’ Demirtaş said.

Former HDP lawmaker Sırrı Sakık shared images of himself with a torch on Twitter to symbolise the Newroz fire.

"The fire of Newroz is burning in every home and every place,’’ Sakık said.

Kurds in the country shared the #NEWROZHERYERDE (Newroz is everyhwere) to share videos and pictures of their home and balcony celebrations marking the holiday.