The Yazidi community feasted and danced their way through their new year.
The Yazidi New Year, known as Sere Sal, meaning “Head of the Year”, is always celebrated on a Wednesday in the middle of April of April, known as Red Wednesday.
This day commemorates the Wednesday that Tawsi Melek first came to Earth millions of years ago in order to calm the planet’s quaking and spread his peacock colours throughout the world.
Rashid Shani Baqui a member of the Yazidi community said it’s a day to share food and celebrate with neighbours and friends, no matter their background.
“We continue our traditions and keep our culture but we share it with others cultures and other communities to socialise with everyone,” he said.
Mr Shani Baqui said Yazidis will also make New Year’s resolutions but he won’t be as his recent engagement has made him a happy man.
“People makes goals,” he said.
“They want to go to the gym, they want to study, they want to get a drivers’ licence.
“Not me, I want to get married because I just got engaged last week and that’s a very nice year for me.”
The Yazidi community enjoy living in Wagga, Mr Shani Baqui said, and they are grateful to the local community for welcoming them.
“For our community it’s very important and it makes us happy for the people of Wagga to share with us and to live like a family.
“Everyone here is very helpful and very supportive and I say thank you to everyone who, after we suffered in our home country of Iraq, welcomed us with love and a big hug.”
Tuba Gundor said she was glad to be celebrating her culture’s holiday and wanted to share her blessings for the New Year.
“I want to say to everyone ‘Happy New Year’.”
Part of the New Year celebration is the colouring of eggs, which collectively represent Tawsi Melek’s rainbow colours that he blessed the world with and displays in his form of the Peacock Angel.
The eggs are principally coloured red, blue, green and yellow. Women also place blood-red flowers and shells of the coloured eggs above the doors of the Yazidis so that Tawsi Melek can recognize their abodes.
The manager of the Wagga Multicultural Council, Belinda Crain, said she was glad to see more than just members of the Yazidi community in attendance showing a unity between cultures.
“There are members of the Burmese and the Afghan community here too,” she said.
Ms Crain said the multicultural council was the recipient of a Wagga City Council grant in partnership with the Yazidi community to celebrate their New Year’s holiday.
“This is the second year we have celebrated the New Year and we hope to continue the tradition.”
New Year day begins with a banquet to honor the dead. At dawn, all Yazidi women go to the nearby cemeteries with pots of food while men remain behind in the villages. The graves quickly become transformed into tables for many plates of food, coloured eggs, red flowers and framed photos of the deceased.
While going from tombstone to tombstone the women eulogize each of the deceased with mournful singing and wailing.
Afterwards tablecloths are spread on the ground between the graves and the women proceed to feast upon the offered food. Meanwhile, back in the villages, the men congratulate each other at the beginning of the New Year.