Yazidi New Year
Yazidi New Year festival at Lalish (18 April 2017) celebrating the start of the new year which begins the following day.
Observed byYazidis

The Yazidi New Year (Sersal) is called Çarşema Sor ("Red Wednesday")[1] or Çarşema Serê Nîsanê ("Wednesday at the beginning of April") in Kurmanji.[2] It falls in spring, on the first Wednesday[3] of the April and Nîsan months in the Julian and Seleucid calendars, i.e. the first Wednesday on or after 14 April according to the Gregorian calendar.[4][5]


The celebrations start on the eve of Wednesday, i.e. Tuesday evening (Yazidis believe 24 hours of the day start at sunset), eggs are boiled and coloured, the festive sawuk bread is baked, the graves are visited to commemorate the dead and bring offerings and fruits for them. Yazidis also wear festive garments and visit nearby temples, in particular Lalish, where the sacred Zemzem spring, which runs in a dark cave, is located. Yazidis offer sacrifices on the entrance at the entrance to the cave and receive blessings. The hills surrounding Lalish are climbed, where they fasten colourful ribbons to the wishing trees. Red flowers are collected from the wilderness which some attach to their hair or turban and later use to decorate their houses with, oils are burnt and bonfires are lit at night. The people exchange gifts with close friends or neighbours.[6][7]

The festive game hekkane is also played by all Yazidis, which involves egg tapping; the cracking of the egg is supposed to represent the bursting of the primordial White Pearl (i.e. the Big Bang) and beginning of life.[1] A great cleaning is carried out on the temples and animals are sacrificed. In the evening, pilgrims gather in the inner courtyard of Lalish where the Baba Sheikh and other religious dignitaries are present. They wait until sunset for the priest bearing the sacred fire to emerge from the temple, from this fire, they all light the specially prepared wicks placed on mostly small stones, oil lamps and pans.[8] The Baba Sheikh turns toward the temple's entrance and recites religious hymns together with other priests who are present. As it gets darker, the pilgrims relocate to the outer yard in front of the temple where the Qawwals, surrounded by the halo of a thousand of tiny flames and accompanied by the Moonlight, recite religious hymns with accompaniment of flutes and tambours. The crowds later surround the priests and dignitaries to shout the sacred names, in particular that of Tawûsê Melek, before departing home.

Before daybreak, a mixture of clay, broken shells of the coloured eggs, red flowers and curry softened with water is applied beside the doors or entrances of houses and sacred places. This is accompanied by reciting the Qewlê Çarşemê hymn.

The rest of the day is spent visiting neighbours, giving and receiving gifts, feasting and playing hekkane. Travelling is refrained from because this day is believed to be the most unlucky day of the year; this belief is also linked with Chaharshanbe Suri by Iranians.[9][page needed] In Lalish, a basin with the water from the Zemzem spring is prepared and the head clergy, including Baba Sheikh, Baba Chawish, and the Peshimam, gather in the inner courtyard where the Sheikhan Sancak is brought in, unveiled and dismantled to be ritually washed with the sacred water by each of the clerics. The sancak is thus ready to be paraded around in the vicinity for the Tawûsgeran festival.


The festival is considered to be a representation of the cosmogony, thus the celebrations, rituals and activities that are conducted during the festival, correspond to the cosmogonical stages. For example, the cleaning represents the state of indefiniteness, the visiting to the graves represents the Enzel stage, i.e. the state of immateriality. The egg represents the primordial White Pearl, thus, when the egg is cracked, it represents the bursting of the White Pearl, beginning of life and emergence of colors. The lit fires represent dispersion of light, the visit to Zemzem spring represents gushing of the infinite waters and the mixture of clay, water, eggshells and flowers represents the amalgamation of the elements which led to the creation of the material world. Lastly, the washing of the Sancak represents descent of Tawûsê Melek to earth.[7]

"Hat çarşema sorê,
Nîsan xemilandibû bi xorê,
Ji batin da ye bi morê.
Hat çarşema sor û zerê,
Bihar xemilandibû ji kesk û sor û sipî û zerê,
Me pê xemilandin serederê.

(English: "The Red Wednesday has come,
Nîsan is adorned with the sun,
Blessed with concealment.
The Red and Yellow Wednesday has come,
The spring is adorned with green, red, white and yellow,
And we have decorated our door lintels with them")

— A passage from Qewlê Çarşemê[10][7]

Yazidi weddings may not take place during this month as April is considered the month of fertility and the bride of the year (Bûka Sale).[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b Rodziewicz, Artur (December 2016). Asatrian, Garnik S. (ed.). "And the Pearl Became an Egg: The Yezidi Red Wednesday and Its Cosmogonic Background". Iran and the Caucasus. 20 (3–4). Leiden: Brill Publishers in collaboration with the Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies (Yerevan): 347–367. doi:10.1163/1573384X-20160306. eISSN 1573-384X. ISSN 1609-8498. JSTOR 44631092. LCCN 2001227055. OCLC 233145721.
  2. ^ Авдоев, Теймураз (2017-09-05). Историко-теософский аспект езидизма (in Russian). Litres. ISBN 9785040433988.
  3. ^ Rodziewicz, Artur (March 2020). "The Yezidi Wednesday and the Music of the Spheres". Iranian Studies. 53 (1–2): 259–293. doi:10.1080/00210862.2019.1654287. ISSN 0021-0862. S2CID 211672629.
  4. ^ "Das êzîdîsche Neujahr" (PDF).
  5. ^ Bozarslan, Hamit; Gunes, Cengiz; Yadirgi, Veli, eds. (2021-04-22). The Cambridge History of the Kurds (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108623711. ISBN 978-1-108-62371-1. S2CID 243594800.
  6. ^ Kreyenbroek, Philip G. (1995). Yezidism: its Background, Observances, and Textual Tradition. E. Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-9004-8.
  7. ^ a b c Rodziewicz, Artur (2016-12-19). "And the Pearl Became an Egg: The Yezidi Red Wednesday and Its Cosmogonic Background". Iran and the Caucasus. 20 (3–4): 347–367. doi:10.1163/1573384X-20160306. ISSN 1609-8498.
  8. ^ Murad, Jasim Elias (1993). The sacred poems of the Yazidis: an anthropological approach (PhD thesis). UCLA. OCLC 31142482.
  9. ^ Mokri, Mohammad (1963). Les rites magiques dans les fêtes du "Dernier Mercredi de l'Année" en Iran (in French). [s.n.] OCLC 1020478355.
  11. ^ Issa, Chaukeddin; Maisel, Sebastian; Tolan, Telim (2008). Das Yezidentum: Religion und Leben (in German). Oldenburg: Dengê Êzîdiyan. ISBN 978-3-9810751-4-4. OCLC 716937172.