Images of Newroz 2017: Kurdish New Year and spring equinox celebrations

Newroz (also spelled Nowruz) marks the arrival of spring and new year, and is celebrated in countries that use the Persian calendar, such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The calendar takes as its start date the time when the Prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina in 621 AD. The current Persian year is 1396. It is celebrated on or around the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere (21 March).

Newroz is an important symbol of identity for Kurds in Turkey and Syria. Kurds couldn't openly celebrate their new year in Turkey until it was legalised and co-opted as Turkish spring holiday in 2000. Celebrations today take on a political edge, with many participants wearing PKK symbols at large gatherings in cities like Diyarbakır, the biggest city in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey.

Huge crowds gather to celebrate Newroz, which marks the arrival of spring and the new year, in Diyarbakır, the biggest Kurdish-dominated city in TurkeyUmit Bektas/Reuters
Young men build a human pyramid while another waves a picture of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan during Newroz festivities in DiyarbakirBulent Kilic/AFP
People build a human tower as they celebrate Kurdish new year in DiyarbakırUmit Bektas/Reuters
A Kurdish man celebrates Newroz in Diyarbakir, TurkeyBulent Kilic/AFP
A Kurdish woman dances in front of a fire in Diyarbakir, southeastern TurkeyBulent Kilic/AFP
A Kurdish man flashes the victory sign in front of a bonfire in Diyarbakir, southeastern TurkeyBulent Kilic/AFP
Kurdish women dance in Istanbul to welcome Newroz, or the arrival of the new yearOsman Orsal/Reuters
A man on a donkey sells balloons during Newroz celebrations in Kabul, AfghanistanOmar Sobhani/Reuters
An Afghan girl holds balloons during Newroz celebrations in KabulOmar Sobhani/Reuters
Iraqi Kurdish women take pictures of Nowruz celebrations in the town of AkraSafin Hamed/AFP
Iraqi Kurds play music as they walk through the town of AkraSafin Hamed/AFP
Cars are parked on a hillside in the Kurdish Iraqi town of AkraSafin Hamed/AFP
Iraqi Kurds holding lit torches walk up a mountain in the town of AkraSafin Hamed/AFP
People carrying lit torches walk up a mountain, as they celebrate Newroz, a festival marking their spring and new year, in the town of Akra, IraqAri Jalal/Reuters
Iraqi Kurds holding lit torches walk up a mountain in the town of AkraSafin Hamed/AFP
People holding lit torches walk up a mountain, draped in a large Kurdish flag, in the town of Akra, 500km north of Baghdad, as they celebrate the Nowruz spring festivalSafin Hamed/AFP
Fireworks explode over a mountain in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Akra during Newroz celebrationsAri Jalal/Reuters
Iraqi Kurds watch as fireworks explode in the sky over the town of AkraSafin Hamed/AFP
Iraqi Kurdish people celebrate Newroz, in the town of AkraAri Jalal/Reuters
Iraqi Kurds stand around a fire in the town of Akra, 500km north of BaghdadSafin Hamed/AFP
Iraqi Kurdish women dressed in traditional clothing pose for pictures in the town of Akra, north of Baghdad, as they celebrate the Nowruz spring festivalSafin Hamed/AFP
An Iraqi Kurdish woman watches Nowruz celebrations in the town of AkraSafin Hamed/AFP
Kurdish Peshmerga forces celebrate Newroz in Kirkuk, IraqAko Rasheed/Reuters
Kurdish and Iraqi flags sway in the wind as a bonfire burns during the Nowruz spring festival celebrations in Kirkuk, north of BaghdadMarwan Ibrahim/AFP
Children in a pool give victory signs in Diyarbakir, on the eve of Newroz celebrations in TurkeyIlyas Akengin/AFP
People's Democracy Party MPs Feleknaz Uca and Sibel Yigitalp distribute pamphlets about Newroz while dressed in traditional attire in Diyarbakir, TurkeyIlyas Akengin/AFP
An Iraqi Kurdish man tries on a traditional outfit in a bazaar in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern IraqSafin Hamed/AFP
An Iraqi Kurdish man tries on a traditional outfit during the annual celebrations of Nowruz in ArbilSafin Hamed/AFP
Goldfish swim in a bowl in Tehran ahead of the Persian new yearAtta Kenare/AFP
A street vendor shows goldfish for sale in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern IraqSafin Hamed/AFP
A woman wears badges showing a portrait of Abdullah Ocalan – leader of the Kurdish workers' party (PKK) – and Che Guevara in Frankfurt, GermanyBoris Roessler/AFP
Iranians walk past large decorated eggs in Mellat Park in TehranAtta Kenare/AFP

The day is a holy day for many faiths, including Zoroastrians. The festival is the most important event in the Iranian calendar and is widely celebrated in different forms across the territories of the old Persian empire, including the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. It is spelled variously as Novruzit, Novruz, Nauruz, Navruzi, Navarōjha, Nawryz, Noruz, Nuruz, Nevruz and Navruz.

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