By Aynur Jafarova
Azerbaijan celebrated Od Cershenbesi (Fire Tuesday) on March 6, the second Tuesday before the Novruz Holiday.
Novruz Holiday, the symbol of winter's leaving and spring's coming is one of the major and the most favorite holiday in Azerbaijan. Being the holiday of equality and fraternity, Novruz is celebrated as the symbolic renewal of nature.
According to the scholars, Novruz has an ancient history. It is often linked with the Zoroastrianism, the oldest one of the monotheist religions. Scientific researches relate the Novruz Holiday with the prophet Zardush that dates 3500-5000 years back. The Zoroastrian Novruz was a joyful celebration of the arrival of light and warmth after the cold dark winter.
Another theory is that Novruz goes back to ancient Mesopotamia. This holiday celebrated in the ancient Babylon in Nisan (March, April) and the celebrations lasted for 12 days each of which had their ceremonies, performances and enjoyment.
Celebrations of Novruz begin a month before the actual holiday day. Novruz is also related with four elements-water, fire, earth and wind. According to the legend, God created man from earth and water, gave him warmth and ordered the wind to wake him up.
Novruz Tuesdays are considered sacred. The four Tuesdays are named after these elements and called Su Chershenbesi (Water Tuesday), Odlu Chershenbe (Fire Tuesday), Torpaq Chershenbesi (Earth Tuesday) and Hava or Akhir Chershenbe (Wind or Last Tuesday).
According to the folk belief, water purifies and stirs, fire, earth and wind awakens the nature, the trees begin to blossom. All these symbolize coming of spring.
Each Tuesday has its own traditions. Fire Tuesday honors fire. Fire means warmth and comfort. Ancient legends associate fire with the Sun and light.
Fire is somewhat sacred in Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire. 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.
Fire is the symbol of purification and clarification. The fire is never put out by water; it burns down by itself.
On all four Tuesdays and on the eve of Novruz it is traditional to light bonfires and despite of the age and gender, jump seven times over one or once over 7 bonfires. According to the belief, fire is purifying and takes away all your troubles before the start of the New Year [solar calendar]. Young boys and girls take the ash of the fire and throw it far from the house. It means all the mischance of the family is thrown away with the ash.