Afghan Celebrations


BRIEF HISTORY

 

  • Afghanistan has history dating back to 330 B.C.
  • People in the region practiced Buddhism or Zoroastrianism prior to Islam
  • Islam was introduced in the region in the 7th century
  • Present day Afghanistan was founded in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, who is considered the father of Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan is mountainous country situated in southern Asia, North and West of Pakistan and East of Iran
  • It is landlocked with an estimated population of 35 million as of 2017
  • Afghanistan is rich in natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron, salt, precious and semiprecious stones, such as Lapis
  • Afghanistan exports dry fruits, pomegranate and saffron throughout the world.
  • Currency: Afghani
  • National Dance:  Attan
  • National Sports: Buzkashi, Kite Surfing
  • National musical instruments are Rabab (Afghan guitar), tabla (set of drums) and harmonium

NATIONAL CELEBRATIONS


  • Nowruz (Afghan New Year):
    • The 1st day of Spring and beginning Nawruz has been widely celebrated in Afghanistan for thousands of years. The Taliban regime banned the celebration of the holiday, as it was not considered an Islamic holiday (pre-Islamic celebration). However, people still carry on the tradition. Farmers express gratitude and joy for produce, people celebrate with music and dance. It is also at time when families that are able to, travel to Northern Afghanistan to celebrate and partake in festivities, such as raising of a flag, mela gul-e surkh (red flower blossom). One of the major festival of Nowruz is buzkashi (goat grabbing) matches or tournaments. Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan, in which men on horses race to grab the goat (buz) much like polo, but with a goat.
  • Independence Day :
    • August 19, Afghans commemorate the end of British control over the foreign influence and affairs of the country. People celebrate with food, music, dance, sport competitions, fireworks, parades and with raising of the Afghan flag. King Amanullah proclaimed independence of Afghanistan on 13th April 1919 and was signed on August 19th.
  • Women’s/Mother’s Day – March 8
  • Workers Day – May 1
  • Remembrance Day for Martyrs and Disabled - May 4
  • Father’s Day – 3rd Sunday of June
  • Children's Day- August-30
  • Teacher’s Day – October 5

RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS

 

Islamic New Year - Muharram

Mawleed al Nabi (Birth of Prophet Mohmmad):

  • Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar, Afghans celebrate the birth of prophet Mohammad. They offer special prayers, visit mosques and donate food.


Ramadhan (Fasting Sunrise - Sunset):

  • The 9th month of the Islamic calendar is considered to be one of the most sacred months of the year. Afghans, along with all Muslims around the world welcome this month and do not eat or drink from sun-rise to sun-set for 30 days. Restaurants and most businesses involving food are closed.  A special nightly prayer, called Taraweh is prayed every night of the month.  It is believed that the Muslim holy-book of Quran was revealed to prophet Mohammad in this month.

Eid Ul Fitr:

  • Eid in Arabic means feast and fitr means breaking. This holiday commemorates the end of Ramadhan and it is celebrated with food, family, friends gathering, wearing new clothes, applying henna to hands feet for women. Children are often given money by adults as a form of gift and a special prayer is performed on the day of Eid.


Eid Ul Adha:

  • The feast (Eid) of sacrifice (Adha) is Observed two months after Eid Ul Fitr is celebrated with sacrificing an animal, such as a Goat, Sheep, Cow or Camel, to honor the willingness of prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God's command. Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to be sacrificed instead. In celebration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: 1 part of the share is given to the poor and needy; 2nd part is for the home, 3rd is given to relatives. It is celebrated with the same festivities as Eid Ul Fitr. 

WEDDING CELEBRATIONS

 

  • Desmal (Confirming the Affinity): Weddings are often arranged (but with the consent of the future bride and groom) and the family goes to brides house to officially ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. The brides family then presents the groom’s family with a Desmal (handmade shawl) to confirm the affinity and to plan for future wedding events.


  • Shireen Khori (Engagement) : The groom's father, accompanied by some elders, goes to the bride's home with bags of sweets and gifts and money for the to-be bride and clothes for the family members. The candy is often made into a sweets and gift basket.


  • Nikkah (Religious Islamic marriage ceremony): The marriage contract is agreed upon. It is traditionally a private event with close friends and family along with a Islamic clergy, the imaam. In Afghan weddings, the bride and groom are traditionally kept in separate rooms during the nikkah process. The bride is represented in the Nikah by her father or a close male relative. The Nikah is negotiated before the imaam between the groom and bride's representative. Once the groom has accepted the terms of the marriage, the imaam then comes to bride and asks her 3 times if she accepts the marriage. Once the bride accepts, they are pronounced husband and wife. Nikkah can be held before the wedding reception or during the wedding reception. Traditionally, they were done on separate days. Now days, it is done during the wedding reception as weddings have gotten lavish. After completing the nikkah ceremony, the bride and groom walk into the wedding hall together to a song titled “asta bero” meaning walk slowly.


  • Shab-e Kheena/Nakreezo Shpa (Henna Night) – A very colorful night that is full of dance, music, henna tattooing, food & much more. The event is celebrated throughout Afghanistan, however there are variations of the celebration based on geography



  • Rukhsati (Wedding Reception) - Rukhsati means departure, this is the day the bride leaves her parents’ home and goes to her new house. The groom’s family and relatives come to get the bride. Some traditional rituals such as tying the bride and groom’s waist take place. The brother of the brother ties her waist as a symbol of strength to carry the new weight of life. A line of cars take the bride to her new house


  • Takht Jammi – Which literally translates to clearing the bed. 3 days after the wedding women in the family get together unwrap gifts and help the bride put them away. It is basically a wrap up/end to the wedding festivities


  • Paiwazi – After the wedding, the bride and groom are invited by family members for dinner and presented with gifts again as a sign of welcoming the bride into the family

 

BIRTH CELEBRATIONS

 

  • Jorra (Baby Shower): The mother in law sets a date to inform the daughter in law and close friends and family of bringing the mother to be a jorra (clothes). In this event, clothes for both baby girl and baby boys are bought, along with money and herbs that are good for nursing mothers and their babies. This is a women only event celebrated with food, dance, music and gifts for the mother to be. This is religiously practiced in Kandhar Afghanistan.


  • Reciting Azan (Call to prayer):  When a baby is born, an elder male of the family (grandfather, eldest uncle) recites the adhan (Islamic call for prayer) in the baby’s ear. This is done to make sure the child hears this call for prayer 1st.



  • Naming Ceremony/Aqiqah: The baby is welcomed to the world within the first 40 days, or longer for those that cannot afford it. Those that cannot afford an aqiqah within 40 days go head and give their child an Islamic name


  • Shab-e Shash (Evening-of-the-sixth): Traditionally, this was often held for boys that are born to celebrate his role in carrying on the family’s name. However, in today’s time family’s that can afford another party, will host a shab-e- shash for a girl too


  • Chela-Guraez:  Women are to remain home for 40 days after giving birth. On the 40th day there is a party invitation for her to celebrate the end of the 40-day rest


  • Head Shaving:  Happens within the 1st 40 days of birth and is celebrated with a party, food, music, dance and monetary donation to the poor


  • Circumcision: Done before the age 7 and there is often a party that goes along with the ceremony