VMU Students Celebrated Traditional Azerbaijani Holiday Novruz
On March 21, at K. Donelaičio g. 62 ("Grand Cafe"), Azerbaijanis studying at Vytautas Magnus University organized their traditional spring holiday Novruz (New day). Anyone who wanted to mark the revival of nature and get to know this country’s traditions was welcome to join in.
The event began with a speech by one of the organizers currently studying at the VMU Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy, Samir Musayev, who encouraged a large crowd of guests to join in and celebrate the traditional Azerbaijani holiday together. The huge significance this holiday has to every Azerbaijani showed through not only the elaborate preparations for the event but also in a video recording of how this day is marked in Azerbaijan. "It is similar to Užgavėnės (Mardi Gras), but, for our nation, this traditional historical holiday is the most important of all. On this day, the Old Year gives way to the New Year. Preparations for the New Day take four weeks", Samir explained. According to him, Azerbaijanis then clean and decorate houses and streets, prepare traditional dishes; the main symbol of Novruz is sprouting wheat called səməni, symbolizing softness, kindness and innocence, without which you cannot celebrate this holiday.
All of the attending people were involved in the celebrations during a coloured hard-boiled egg tapping contest, after which the guests were invited to taste traditional Azerbaijani dishes and sweets. "The energy of the people who organized the event and their desire to involve everyone in it left the strongest impression. I found out a lot of new things about Azerbaijan, noticed numerous associations with Užgavėnės (Lithuanian Mardi Gras), such as the element of fire, the myth of gluttony", Ignas, one of the guests of the event, said. The attending public included not just students from Azerbaijan and their Lithuanian friends, but students from other foreign countries as well, who have come here to study on exchange.
After enjoying Azerbaijani meals, people were invited outside, where a bonfire was lit and fireworks were going off. "It is believed that fire takes all the bad energy. By jumping over the fire we tell diseases to burn", Samir explained.
Most of the people noticed that Novruz has features that are similar to the holidays important to Lithuanian religion and traditions.
At the end of the event, with the Asian country’s authentic music in the background, Azerbaijani students performed their national dances and soon were joined by other celebrating participants. The celebration of Novruz was organized by the students, the Embassy of Azerbaijan and Diaspora organizations, which provided financial support. In 2009, this holiday was added to the UNESCO Non-Material Cultural Heritage List.
You are welcome to view the photo report by Jonas Petronis (firstname.lastname@example.org).