Newroz is a traditional holiday celebrated by many Aryan tribes to mark the arrival of spring. For the Kurds, however, Newroz has a deeper meaning as a day of freedom and liberation. Nurullah ‘Thori’ Akcan is a photographer who made these pictures of the festivities.
The Kurds base Newroz on the Legend of Blacksmith Kawa, who led an army to defeat a cruel king and bring spring to the land. Today, the Kurds, divided across four different countries, continue to celebrate Newroz as a symbol of their struggle for independence. They light fires, dance Kurdish dances, and wear ethnic clothes on this day. Despite bans in some countries, Kurds continue to celebrate Newroz, with the city of Amed (Diyarbakir) hosting the most splendid celebrations.
“As a Kurdish youth, I have attended many Newroz celebrations since I was a child and, like every Kurdish youth, I was excited to jump over the fire. I dreamed of participating in Amed Newroz for years and I had the opportunity to participate in Amed Newroz in 2022. That’s why I was so excited. I got up early in the morning and got ready and got my new camera. And I started to photograph the exciting moments of thousands of people. And I immortalized those moments with the photographs I took. Finally, my biggest dream is to one day celebrate the arrival of spring on Newroz Day in a free and independent Kurdistan, sing songs and dance arm in arm with the people I love.” – Nurullah ‘Thori’ Akcan