Guests, including the new High Sheriff of East Sussex, Michael Foster were welcomed to the celebrations by Peter Carcas, Chairman of Education Training Consortium Sussex (ETC).
Newroz, considered to be the most important holiday in Kurdish culture, is a time for entertainment such as games, dancing, family gathering, preparation of special foods and the reading of poetry. The celebration of Newroz has its local peculiarities in different regions of Kurdistan. On the eve of Newroz, in southern and eastern Kurdistan, bonfires are lit. These fires symbolize the passing of the dark season, winter, and the arrival of spring, the season of light.
Opening the celebrations at Nazer Restaurant, Mr Foster, spoke about the importance of events such as this, reminding people of their culture and links to their homeland. The evening also brought together many other people from the local community to share in the celebration and raise awareness of another culture.
Newroz refers to the celebration of the traditional Iranian new year holiday of Newroz in Kurdish society and Mr Carcas says it marks the first day of spring. “It is truly the start of the New Year, and is widely recognised as such in many middle eastern cultures, with traditions going back thousands of years, “ he said.
“In Kurdish legend, the holiday celebrates the deliverance of the Kurds from an evil King, and it is seen as another way of demonstrating support for the Kurdish cause.
“The celebration coincides with the Northward equinox which falls mainly on March 21 and the festival is held usually between March 18-24. It has an important place in the terms of Kurdish identity for the majority of Kurds, mostly in Iraq, Turkey and Syria.
“Though celebrations vary, people generally gather together to welcome the coming of spring wearing traditional clothes and dance together.”
ETC hosts the Hastings Kurdish Welfare Association which organised the evening. The Newroz event was part of their ‘Intergreat’ project which aims to bring local people together to increase mutual understanding.
Also at the Newroz celebration, guests joined together for a minutes silence, held as a mark of respect for the people killed in the Brussels bomb attacks earlier that day. The evening proceeded with traditional Kurdish food and dancing.