In a year when the news from Afghanistan was full of conflict, bloodshed and suppression of women here at New Mehan Orphanage in Kabul our children took a day off and began Nowruz, Afghanistan’s New Year with a special celebration in a hope to see peace and prosperity in their country.
Nowruz is a special time of year for us, it not only ushers in the New Year, it harkens back to thousands of years of cultural history. We welcome the spring, the beginning of our school year, a time to shake off the bitter cold, clean the carpets, organize the cupboards, pat one another on the back and roll up our sleeves for another season of regeneration. It is also one tradition that cannot be forgotten or faded away by politics or religion, it is universal and promotes healthy national pride and unity. One important aspect to AFCECO’s mission is to reinforce, rebuild and foster a resurgence in the ancestral traditions of Afghanistan that were destroyed by thirty years of war and suppression under ideological regimes.
In this spirit Shairoz Nathoo, a good friend of AFCECO was very kind to fund our Nowruz event. The celebration was held at the new home of Mehan Orphanage which lasted till midnight. Our girls stayed the whole night preparing Samank, a sweet paste made entirely from germinated wheat (young wheatgrass), which is prepared especially for Nowruz in a large pot. This practice has been traced back to 3000 years ago.
And our happy girls had decorated a Haft Seen table. Haft-Seen (the Seven S) is a tabletop arrangement of seven symbolic items traditionally displayed at Nowruz, which are Sabzeh (lentil sprouts) symbolizing rebirth, Samanak symbolizing affluence, Senjed (dried oleaster) symbolizing love, Seer (garlic) symbolizing health, Seeb (Apple) symbolizing beauty, Somq (sumac fruit) symbolizing the color of sunrise and Serkeh (vinegar) symbolizing old-age and patience.
The night at New Mehan was electrical, full of music, dance and joy. Superstar pop singer Aryana Sayeed who is extremely popular among Afghan audiences gave a concert and our girls accompanied her with their amazing dance. It was really a transcending moment seeing our little girls confidently moving to the music, where the largess of the celebrity presence was focused on what really matters: the children and their future. Other pop stars like Arash Barez, Omid Shadayee, Meena Wafa, Abida, Razia and Wakil Istalifi also performed and sang their new songs.
Ariana TV, a popular television network in Afghanistan, had a full coverage of our event broadcast across Afghanistan. We are very thankful to their camera crew for their assistance in sound and light.