President Emomali Rakhmon gives a speech opening the Novruz festivities at the Dushanbe Hippodrome on March 25.
Nothing highlights the Tajik government's efforts to forge a distinct national identity better than the country's annual Novruz festivities. This year, officials emphasized Tajikistan's Persian roots during the week-long celebration. Carefully stage-managed public events steered clear of religion and politics.
Banned for much of the Soviet period, the festival of Novruz – also, Nowruz, Nawruz and a few other alternatives – derives its name from the Persian for "New Day" and marks the arrival of spring. The holiday, centering on the vernal equinox, is celebrated in much of greater Central Asia, as well as parts of the Caucasus and by Turkey's Kurdish minority, and is believed to have originated as the Zoroastrian New Year in ancient Persia. In 2009, it was added to UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.
Tajikistan Highlights Persian Roots with Novruz Celebration