Remember, remember the fifth of November.
This past week a British friend was telling me about a British family who had a British guest visiting them about this time a few years ago. The British guest was surprised to learn that the children did not know about Guy Fawkes. Unaware that it was the time of Nevruz on the Saturday she visited, the family and their guest decided to teach the children what happens on this special day called Guy Fawkes Day back home and they had a bonfire in the field nearby where they lived on the outskirts of ystanbul. The local police came immediately when they saw the bonfire. They thought it was a bonfire and gathering of people to celebrate Nevruz!
Every year in the United Kingdom on Nov. 5 you see people celebrate what is called Guy Fawkes Day. It is a day to remember what happened in 1605, when a group of men attempted to carry out the "gunpowder plot," a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I. The man who was to light the barrels of gunpowder was named Guy Fawkes. The plan was discovered, however, when one of the conspirators sent a letter to his cousin warning him not to visit the Houses of Parliament. Fawkes was then caught just before lighting the fuse to the 36 barrels of gunpowder, enough evidence to lead to his conviction and execution.
Every British child learns about this and enjoys a good bonfire now and then... The plot continues to be remembered through the use of fireworks, bonfire parties and general celebrations.
There is even a song that every British child learns at school, and it goes something like this:
Remember, remember, the fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the king and the parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God's providence he was caught,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Public Nevruz observances typically involve roadside bonfires in addition to mass celebrations.
This past weekend starting on Saturday, March 21 throughout Turkey, Nevruz, a festival commonly recognized as the Kurdish and Persian New Year, was celebrated. The celebration marks the beginning of spring. Every year Turkish authorities hope the festivities are peaceful, but it can vary from year to year and from place to place. This past weekend in ystanbul, the main celebration gathering area was KazlyceE-me Square in Zeytinburnu. As usual, police were ready and took security measures to ensure public order was maintained throughout the city during this celebration.
The majority of Turks, who are Sunni Muslims, do not celebrate Nevruz. They often consider the celebration an excuse for political protests by Kurds.
Nevruz is a genuine ancient tradition and time for celebration by many different ethnic and religious groups stretching across thousands of kilometers to as far as China. Beril Dedeoy-lu in her piece "The Nevruz Festival" (March 20, 2015), explains that Nevruz is seen as the commemoration of mythological events recounted in the Ergenekon epic, about how Turks' ancestors left the inaccessible valleys of the Altay Mountains where they originated with the help of a she-wolf. In other words, for the Turkic world, Nevruz celebrates the emergence of the Turkish people as a nation and as an actor in world events. Dedeoy-lu hit the nail on the head when she said, "Therefore, this is still a celebration about a 'beginning,' maybe not directly linked to the seasonal changes, but referring to a turning point in the course of history." It's a time when Kurdish communities tell the story of Kawa the blacksmith, who led a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler. This particular version emphasizes unity and resistance to oppression. Interestingly enough, both views share the common theme of blacksmithing and metalworking in their legends about Nevruz.
If only in today's world there could be more common ground between the Turks and Kurds...
CHARLOTTE MCPHERSON (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN
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