Georgia’s Azeri Community Celebrates Novruz

TBILISI - Georgia’s minority Azeri community is celebrating the arrival of spring with the traditional Persian New Year festival of Novruz.

Originally an ancient Zoroastrian religious celebration, Novruz dates back more than 3,000 years and is one of the most popular holidays of the diverse nationalities that once comprised the vast Persian Empire.

Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan all mark Novruz as a national public holiday.

Special springtime foods, extensive cleaning and elaborate family gatherings mark the holiday. On the eve of Novruz, families gather to decorate the graves of relatives as an act of remembrance.

Preparations for the holiday begin a month prior to the arrival of spring. The four weeks leading up to Novruz are dedicated to the Earth’s main elements - water, fire, earth and wind. Each Tuesday celebrants mark the day by honoring one of the four elements.

Georgia’s Azeri community celebrates Novruz with popular national sweets including baklava, sugar cookies with nuts known as shakarbura and shorgogal - layers of pastry flavored with saffron-colored turmeric and fennel seeds.

Azeri tables are set with large silver or copper trays with a pot of wheat grass in the center; surrounded by pastries, cookies, dyed eggs and candles.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photos: Georgia's Prime Minister's Press Office

21 March 2016 15:05