By Frishta Abdul Wali
Nowruz — a new day: that is the literal translation for the Persian name of this festive day. Historically a remnant of Zoroastrian tradition which has been adopted by a multitude of Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries, it is a day that celebrates life, new beginnings, and harmony. In Afghanistan, Nowruz is as integral as any other national holiday.
One week before Nowruz, you will find Afghan households busy in preparation for the holiday. The preparations include a thorough Spring cleaning and redecoration of the entire household, both inside and outside. Family members purchase new clothing for the special day. The house is redecorated and the pantry is revamped to a state where it is fully stocked. In addition, wheat (or as the Afghans call it, “gandom”) is washed and set out to germinate for a week into a tiny garden on a platter for the special day. The wheat’s symbolism for Afghans comes from growing something from last year into the new year. It is advised that before Nowruz people should clear all tabs and pay off any debts they have accumulated, to reinforce the fresh start of a new year. Some families will tie a swing up on their tree in the backyard. There you will find kids swinging and playing. Some even believe in an old tale that swinging up on the tree is a way of clearing them of their sins for the new year. …..