Nowruz is the name of the Iranian New Year, which marks the first day of spring – most often March 21 – and it is often associated with the religion Zarathustraism and means ‘new day’ in Farsi. The day marks the time of year when the day is divided into equal numbers of daytime and nighttime hours.
In Turkmenistan, spring is celebrated with Nowruz Bayram – spring festival – and a two-day holiday where schools and businesses are closed. In addition to spring, the celebration is a tribute to diversity and the Turkmen culture with different tribes living together in the country.
Nowruz Bayram always takes place outside the cities, which among other things makes Ashgabat a ghost town in the days when the festivities take place. The main festival takes place in the sub-mountainous valley of Akhal. Here you meet in a large square, which is very reminiscent of a festival square, where tents and other stalls are set up. Here you can buy food and drink, and performances are arranged with dancing, horses and other traditional activities.
The tradition of Nowruz is ancient and dates back at least 2500 years. However, it first gained international recognition in 2010. In addition to Turkmenistan, Nowruz is also celebrated in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as well as a number of western provinces in China. In addition, Nowruz is celebrated by the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, as well as by the Tatars and Bashkirs in southern Russia.