(Blessed New Year!). Navruz (alt.: Norouz;it literally means "New Day") is an ancient Persian celebration of the new year starting with the first day of spring. This joyous holiday, which has been observed for something like 15,000 years, is celebrated in all Persian and Turkic areas of Asia, including of course Tajikistan. We were fortunate to be able to travel out of Dushanbe into the countryside of Khatlon Province to observe some traditional Tajik Navuz activities:
In Kulob, the main celebration took place at the local athletic stadium. Leading up the entranceway to the stadium was a veritable midway of exhibitions, one from each village in the area, of local costumes, cooking and crafts. Here is an about-to-be bride having her hair carefully combed by, evidently, her mother.
Madonna and Child. She took a break from exhibiting to hold her son, which I thought was the best image of all.
All of the school children in the district took part in a costumed show on the athletic field. Here, the white tarp on the stage, which represents snow in the mountains, covers schoolgirls dressed in blue robes, representing the spring snowmelt. Below the stage, the circle of boys with the radiating arms of girls represent the cycle of the seasons.
The tarp is removed as the "snow" melts, and the rain dances over the fields, sprouting the tulips the girls hold in their hands.
These little girls giggled so hard at the sight of a Westerner, I just had to take their picture. When I showed the photo to them and their father, they were all fascinated and delighted! I'm going to get a print of this photo to them.
A long ride back over the mountains, treated to scenery like this. This is an incredibly beautiful country!