By Laman Ismayilova
Today, Azerbaijan is celebrating Fire Tuesday, one of the four festive Tuesdays before Novruz Holiday.
The four Tuesdays before Novruz holiday symbolize the four elements - Su Charshanbasi (Water Tuesday), Od Charshanbasi (Fire Tuesday), Torpag Charshanbasi (Earth Tuesday), and Hava or Akhir Charshanba (Wind or Last Tuesday). Each Tuesday has its own traditions.
For Azerbaijani people, fire is sacred and symbolizes purity. It takes away all your troubles before the start of the New Year.
There is a Zoroastrian pilgrimage in suburbs of Baku. Azerbaijan historically hid reserves of oil and gas that caused flames of fire on the ground and this was interpreted as blessing.
On all four Tuesdays and on the eve of Novruz it is traditional to light bonfires and jump over 7 bonfires.
Young boys and girls take the ash of the fire and throw it far from the house to get rid of misfortunes and troubles.
On Fire Tuesday, Azerbaijani women usually cook pilaf with beans or chicken.
Azerbaijan is often called the "Land of Fire" due to its burning hillsides. The Absheron Peninsula and Baku were centers of Zoroastrianism in ancient times.
One of the most famous and popular tourist places of the "eternal flame" in Azerbaijan is Yanar Dag.
This magical place is associated with many legends. Since ancient times, fire worshipers from India and Iran have gathered in these places.
Yanar Dag is a natural gas fire which blazes continuously on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian Sea near Baku.
Unlike mud volcanoes, the Yanar Dag flame burns fairly steadily, as it involves a steady seep of gas from the subsurface.
The flames emanate from vents in sandstone formations and rise to a height of 10 metres.
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