Newroz is a major cultural event for the Kurdish people celebrated all over the world. The event marks the Kurdish New Year on the 21st of March and has been celebrated by the Kurdish people for thousands of years coinciding with the spring solstice.
Newroz also commemorate the Kurdish myth of Kawa the Blacksmith to whom it is claimed that this tradition dates back to. On March 21st in the year 612 B.C., Kawa killed the Assyrian tyrant Dehak and liberated the Kurds and many other peoples in the Middle East. Dehak was an evil king who represented cruelty, abuse, and the enslavement of peoples. People used to pray every day for God to help them to get rid of Dehak. On Newroz day, Kawa led a popular uprising and surrounded Dehak’s palace. Kawa then rushed passed the king’s guards and grabbed Dehak by the neck. Kawa then struck the evil tyrant on the head with a hammer and dragged him off his throne. With this heroic deed, Kawa set the people free and proclaimed freedom throughout the land. A huge fire was lit on the mountaintops to send a message: firstly to thank God for helping them defeats Dehak, and secondly to the people to tell them they were free. This is where the tradition of the Newroz fire riginates. Today, Newroz is not just a day for remembering, it is also a day for protest and resistance against the oppression which the Kurdish people continue to suffer from.
Here in London Newroz has been celebrated for over two decades. As the population of the Kurds through forceful migration dramatically increased, the size and richness of the local celebrations too have advanced. Since the early 90’s Kurds have been celebrating, as it should be in the real and traditional spirit, outdoors in Finsbury Park. Music, food, dancing, fireworks, bonfire are just some of the activities that take place.
The KCC has always been at the forefront of preparations for London’s Newroz celebrations and will continue to do so. In 2005 the Newroz festival attracted over 15, 000 people.
Newroz 2006 for the first time lasted for a whole month starting from the 1st of March until the 29th of March, during which many activities were held on a daily basis at various locations in including the KCC on many days.
Among the activities hosted by the KCC during the Newroz festivities were: a Fashion show exhibiting traditional Kurdish woman clothing held by Della Ahmed, a Panel on Newroz in history by Mustafa Resit, an activities day for children, a Panel on the Kurdish mother tongue by Haydar Dilijen and a Newroz celebration in which Ibrahim Rojhilat and Koma Sersi performed.
The Youth Festival
The second annual Youth Festival was celebrated in 2005. The festival is a product of the KCC, which was developed in 2004. The festival, which has a differ themes each year was celebrated under the heading of “Anti Crime” and the promotion of the “Kurdish Mother Tongue”.
The KCC in its preparation for the festival aims to work solely with the communities youth. The 2005 Youth Festival attracted over 1,500 people. The festival lasted for a week and included a football tournament, folklore and dance show, drams shows in which anti crime messages given, a seminar by Hatice Korkut a leading Kurdish lawyer, regarding the development of the Kurdish Mother Tongue and on the last day a concert in hundreds of people participated. Preparations for the 2006 Youth Festival have already began, which will aim at attracting many more people.
The International Kurdish
Similarly to Newroz the KCC has also participated in the promotion and encouraged the communities participation in the International Kurdish Cultural Festival held annually in Germany. In 2005 the KCC organised two coaches to transport members of the community to the festival and back.
The Roj Women’s Organisation
The Roj Women’s Organisation is a self proclaimed organisation, which is currently in the process of becoming a recognised charity.
The organisation carries out many of its activities within the KCC. The organisation was set up by women from the community with various backgrounds, abilities and ambitions. The aims of the group are based on the promotion of culture and sport for women, public relations, campaigns against domestic violence and much more.
The organisation was established on the premise that more women needed to participate in the community and hence aims to develop social platforms on which women from all backgrounds and abilities will be able to participate. It is a fact that women especially within the Kurdish community are often socially excluded, whereas if afforded the opportunity all such women will be able to use their talents, experiences and knowledge for the greater good of the community. In providing these social platforms the organisation aims to build the confidence and self esteem of women from the community.
The KCC has contributed to the organisation by providing space and recourses for moral support. To that end, the organisation holds parenting workshops every Sundays at the KCC in which women are thought about parenting by a child physiologist, they share there experiences and listen to each others problems. These workshops are held between 12noon to 2pm.
Starting on the 15th of January 2006 the organisation in partnership with The Scurnan Trust will hold women’s homework club on a weekly basis at the KCC. The aim of the homework club is to encourage and teach parent women to get actively involved in the education of their children and to work on the skills required to assist their children in their homework.
The Roj Women’s organisation has similarly developed an annual festival aimed at women. The Festival is founded on similar principles as the Youth Festival organised by the
KCC but is solely targeted at women’s participation. The first of the organisations festivals was celebrated in 2005 at various venues including the KCC in which in excess of 1,000 women participated. The KCC looks forward to working with the Roj Women’s Organisation on new projects in the near future.
The Local Police
The KCC aimed at improving the relationship between the Kurdish community and the local police, by acting as an intermediary between them. The KCC holds meetings with the local Harringey Community Liaison Officer, Eric Monk to ensure that the community at large feels more relaxed and confident about the police. The result is that more crime is reported by the victims of crime in the community and people are more likely to be cooperative in assisting the police cut crime levels in the area.