Thousands celebrate Nevruz spring advent holiday
Nevruz, a spring advent holiday with ancient roots, was celebrated over the weekend throughout Turkey, the Turkic world and the Middle East with festivals in city centers, streets and parks. Often attended by high-level officials, during the holiday people usually light a bonfire at night and gather to sing, dance and play traditional games. Nevruz was greeted around Turkey with celebrations attended by thousands of people to welcome the coming of spring. A celebration marking Nevruz was held at Ankara's Altinpark yesterday, with President Abdullah Gul lighting a Nevruz fire. In addition to a large crowd of officials and Ankarans, many guests from across the Turkic world attended this event as well. "Just like it heralds the coming of spring, I hope Nevruz, for us, will also harbinger a better Turkey where mutual respect, love, working together and solidarity prevail," Gul told the event. Some 150,000 people took part celebrations in Kazlicesme, Istanbul, lighting Nevruz fires and jumping over them, singing songs, performing folk dances, and setting peace pigeons free to mark the event. Some 200,000 people attended the celebrations in Diyarbakir. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sent Nevruz greetings to the foreign ministries of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and Albania conveying messages of friendship and fellowship. Nevruz is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox, March 21 or 20 depending on the year, as the beginning of the new year. Nevruz, also known as the festival of fire, has been widely celebrated for more than 3,000 years in Iran, the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia and southeastern Turkey. The UN General Assembly last month officially recognized March 21 as the International Day of Nevruz.