ERBIL, Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – Yezidis (Ezidis) and observers from across the Kurdistan Region gathered in the Ezidi Holy Temple of Lalish in Shekhan Valley in celebration of the Ezidi New Year, also known as Red Wednesday or “Charshama Sor” in Kurdish.
The festivities began Tuesday afternoon as hundreds of people made the trek to Lalish with many of the late arrivals walking barefoot for over half a kilometer as parking space along the road up to the Temple became scarce.
The ceremony began with a procession of torches, led by survivors, girls abducted by the Islamic State (IS) dressed in white.
They traveled through the crowded atrium and into the Temple, as people prepared to light candles.
A new, handcrafted candelabrum was presented by one of the local sheikhs and, once the oil was poured, Ezidis began lighting candles and paraffin torches outside the Temple.
Despite the great losses they suffered, and the hardships they continue to endure living in camps, Ezidis began celebrating their New Year with boisterous laughs, chants, and smiles.
Children were seen playing a traditional game with colored eggs around the narrow streets and houses in Lalish.
Many young women and men sat on rooftops and balconies observing the lighting ceremony; others danced in the atrium as the evening progressed.
The President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Council of Ministers congratulated Ezidis in the Region in a statement on Red Wednesday.
The President and the Government reiterated their support for Ezidis and declared “none would be allowed to impose themselves on Ezidis and decide their fate.”
Since August 2014, Ezidis suffered genocide at the hands of IS with over 3,000 Ezidi women and children still in IS captivity.
Most Ezidi areas in northern Iraq and Kurdistan are still either under the control of IS or unsuitable for families to return due to security risks.
Reporting by G. H. Renaud
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany