Iraqi Kurds mark Nowruz amid dire economic conditions
Kurds across the Iraqi Kurdistan region celebrated Nowruz, but increasing concerns over the indifference by local authorities to tackle the dire economic conditions have put a damper on the festivities.
Kurds celebrate Nowruz between March 21-23, which marks the beginning of the Kurdish New Year. Nowruz, a Persian word meaning "a new day'', is celebrated by many countries across the Middle East, the Caucauses, Central Asia, and particularly by the Kurdish communities in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria.
Celebrations include going out for picnicking and lighting bonfires with family and loved ones.
On Sunday afternoon, thousands of men, women, youth and children wearing colourful traditional Kurdish clothes gathered at Salim Street in Sulaimaniyah city. A number of young residents joined hands to the traditional Kurdish dance and music, while others eagerly took photos.
On Monday, thousands of families picnicked at the region’s beautiful resorts, and thousands of tourists from the other parts of Iraq flocked to the Kurdistan region to celebrate Nowruz.
"As a Kurdish youth, I congratulate all Kurds in the Iraqi Kurdistan region as well as in all the four parts of the greater Kurdistan on this Nowruz national feast. I am expressing my delight by wearing traditional Kurdish clothes, in order to resurrect our national culture and pass it on to the next generations," Bawan Rizgar, 30, from Sulaimaniyah told The New Arab.
"Unfortunately, I see a coldness in marking Nowruz by locals in the city this year because of the current dire economic and living conditions of the people of Kurdistan," Rizgar added.
Early on Sunday, Kurdish citizens in Iraq were angry over the news of two elderly retirees who had died while waiting to receive their delayed salaries. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which administers the region, previously promised to pay more than one million employees in the public payroll on time, but as of yet has not paid out the salaries for February.
Moreover, alarming hikes in the prices of foodstuff and fuel due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, coupled with rising unemployment rates in the private sector, have exacerbated the woes of the poorer and the middle classes.
Ahmed Mira, a Kurdish university lecturer, told The New Arab, "Indeed the Kurdish governance destroyed all the ceremonies as the principles of being a Kurd or the Kurdish nationality have been negatively affected as a result of the bad ruling of the Kurdish parties since the 1991 uprising."
"The passion for celebrating Nowruz is not as it was in the past," Mira added.
The university lecturer also said, "Being happy in this country has become very unique because of the bad governance in the region. Poverty is a big misfortune that makes people feel unable to celebrate the feasts."
In 2020, a total lockdown was imposed by Kurdish authorities in Nowruz as the region was trying to restrict the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, on Wednesday, announced March 20-21, as an official holiday across the country in celebration of the Kurdish New Year. In two separate tweets in Kurdish and Arabic languages, he also congratulated all the Iraqi people, especially Kurds on Nowruz, emphasizing the need to reinforce Iraq's stability, security and integrity.