Newroz, also spelled Nowruz, Nauruz or Nevruz, means “New Day” and stands for the New Year celebration of many Indo-Iranian peoples. Over 300 million people around the world celebrate this day. The big winning question is: Does Newroz have any cultural or even religious significance for the Yazidis, and does this day also usher in the New Year for the Yazidis?
Answer: No. Newroz has no cultural and certainly no religious value for the Yazidis and in Yazidism.
The Yazidi New Year, which is both secular and religious in character, is “Çarşema serê nîsanê,” the first Wednesday in April according to the Yazidi calendar. For the Yazidis originating from the Serhed region, the festivity around “Kiloça serê salê” has the character of a New Year celebration. While the Newroz festival in its present form has been celebrated only since the second century, the Yazidi New Year is believed to be close to or parallel to the Akitu festival of the Sumerians (3rd millennium BC) and Babylonians. Although many Yazidis celebrate the Newroz festival, this is initially only due to the geographical proximity to the Iranian peoples. Moreover, Newroz is a celebration of togetherness, which invites the general public to participate.
What many Yazidis are not aware of, however, is the following circumstance: the Newroz festival is misused by many political directions to distort Yazidism in its essential, religious components. This is done not only by inventing sacred texts and selling them as genuine Yazidi prayers, but also by implementing Zarathustra and Zoroastrianism into Yazidi mythology and faith as obviously – the Newroz festival is ideally suited for this – as if they were fixed components of Yazidism. In particular, the texts “Qewlê Zerdeşt,” “Qewlê Pîrê Sîba,” and “Qewlê Newroz” have been invented and circulated in recent decades. This is done primarily by political parties that insist on independence and want to separate Kurddom from Islam. If the overwhelming majority of Kurds were not Muslim and, moreover, not devout, they would not consider themselves part of the “Islamic ummah,” i.e., the all-Islamic unity, and their independence efforts would be all the stronger. Unfortunately, however, especially the Yazidi youth is manipulated in its foundations with this approach in such a way that they often believe that Zarathustra has a religious value in Yazidism and that Yazidism has even sprung from Zoroastrianism, which also represents a falsification and is not true.
As for the Newroz celebrations, we wish all those celebrating – whether Yazidi or non-Yazidi – a Happy New Year. Do not forget to remember the thousands of dead and missing in 2014.