By Laman Ismayilova
Today, Azerbaijan celebrates the Earth or Last Tuesday before Novruz, a spring holiday that marks the beginning of New Year.
There are four pre-holiday Tuesdays on the eve of Novruz: Su Chershenbesi (Water Tuesday), Od Chershenbesi (Fire Tuesday) Hava Chershenbesi (Wind Tuesday) and Torpaq Chershenbesi (Earth or Last Tuesday). Each of them is dedicated to the awakening of one of the natural elements.
The legends says that everyone must celebrate the East Tuesday at home otherwise they will celebrate Novruz away from home for 7 years.
On Earth Tuesday, people in Azerbaijan make fires and add rue (uzarlik) to protect from evil forces. The ash from the Last Tuesday fire is sprinkled over the four corners of the house.
Moreover, people lit candles for every family member. Whoever’s candle burns longest will have their wish come true.
On Last Tuesday, all families prepare a round copper tray "Khoncha". They place "Samani" (sprouted seeds) in the middle of the tray filled with painted eggs, walnuts, hazel-nuts, almonds and traditional pastries. Eggs are painted to represent the seasons - white for winter, green for spring, red for summer and yellow for autumn.
Moreover, It is essential on this day to have seven dishes whose names begin with the letter "S": sumakh, water (su), wheat shoots (samani), etc.
The Last Tuesday also involves a wide range of games and ancient rituals. For example, girls secretly listen in to conversations inside neighbors’ houses to discover if their wish will come true. That's why people try to talk positively in their homes.
During papaqatdi game, young people knock at the door, throw their hats down and hide. The homeowner should fill the hats with Novruz sweets.
On Last Tuesday, people also enjoy games such as dasmalatdi (throwing kerchief), shalsallama (shaking the shawl), gurshagatdi (throwing the belt) and others.
Everyone is getting ready for spring holiday, which is linked with the Zoroastrianism, the oldest one of the monotheist religions.
On September 30, 2009, Novruz was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Since that March 21 has been declared as the International Day of Novruz.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz