Sulaimani, Iraq. April, 2012. Newroz is the new year’s celebration practiced in Central Asia, Iran and especially the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq. If you haven’t had to opportunity to participate in a Newroz celebration, you’re missing out.
Until 2012 I had been missing out. Although I have lived and worked in Northern Iraq since 2009, this was the first year I marched the length of Saalam street, locked and jostled shoulders with those around me and reveled in the fitful sparks of a diesel-drenched bonfire. I took pride in swimming my sharwaal up to my belly button, tucking in my kurdish top shirt, and spinning my colorful cummerbund into place. Try as I might, my headwrap could only be coerced into a stationary position with the aid of an experienced Kurd. The arm scarves were the icing on the cake.
The spirit of Newroz lasts long after the officially designated dates. The weekend following Newroz, I was happy to accept an invitation to a friend’s almond grove. Dozens of friends and friends of friends gathered and celebrated the Kurdish New Year in style; eating, drinking, hiking, singing, and enjoying each other’s company. I was told months after I took this shot that there is a Kurdish expression that deals with a true Newroz starting when you share a tea heated on communal coals.