Newroz, Kawa the Blacksmith and the King Azhdahak

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Many Middle Eastern countries celebrate Newroz (The New Day) on the 21st of March, but each celebrates the holiday with its own rituals.

For the Kurds, it is the most important holiday of the year, celebrated with colourful clothes, folk dancing and jumping over bonfires. Songs, dance performances and poetry readings are prepared for the massive crowds that gather in nature, propping up tents spreading all the way to the horizon. Besides marking the first day of Spring, Kurds also have their own myth behind Newroz that dates back to 612 BC. It is the day when Kawa the blacksmith killed the King Azhdahak.

Azdahak was an evil king ruling over a village in Mesopotamia. His oppression over the village people cursed the kingdom from ever seeing the sun. Azdahak had two snakes that lived on each of his shoulders that would send the king into a deep fit of pain when hungry. Nothing would satisfy him but the brains of two children from the village, eaten every day.

After losing his children to the terrible king, Kawa, the blacksmith, adopted an impossible and foolhardy plan to save his last daughter, and the village, from the king’s deadly tax. The night before his daughter was slated to die, Kawa snuck into the Azdahak’s castle, clutching a hammer as his only weapon. Finding the king, a fight ensued and he ruthlessly murdered him.

To signal his incredible victory to the village people, he ran to the highest hill overlooking the humble homes and lit a massive fire. Remarkably, for the first time since the king’s rule, the sun rose over the village on the following morning, the 21st of March.

Plants grew once more, and the village people celebrated their liberation from fear and tyranny. There are so many stories related to Newroz, but they all celebrate the rebellion against injustice. Here are 10 of the most famous songs about Newroz: