Nowruz, literally New Day, is marked as the first day of spring and traditionally marks the first day of the Iranian New Year. The occasion dates back to around 3,000 years ago.
Today it is officially a holiday in a dozen countries in west and central Asia. Indeed more people celebrate Nowruz outside Iran than inside the country, with some 200 million people taking part in the festivities worldwide. While not an official national holiday in Turkey, Nowrus has been celebrated since 1995 when the Turkish government named it Nevruz. Ever since millions across the country, including Kurds, Alevis, Shias, as well as Turks have been celebrating the annual festival. Dozens of events are taking place across Turkey to celebrate Nowruz, or Nevruz as the Turks call it. From predominantly Kurdish areas in the east, through Eskisehir in the west and especially in Istanbul. One of the biggest celebrations was in Istanbul where a pageant was held with artists in traditional outfits, put on a dazzling display of dances and songs. Outside there were stalls selling food and drinks. Guests were offered food and citizens had a great time with their children. There were also speeches made by community leaders and politicians. The ancient Iranian festival of Nowruz, held to honor the start of spring, is celebrated by people from different ethnic communities and religious backgrounds, from Bosnia to the Bay of Bengal and beyond. Here in Istanbul, thousands of people have gathered to bid the old year goodbye and welcome in the new.