Honoring World Water Day and the Arrival of New Year by the Kurdish American Education Society

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Ardishir Rashidi-Kalhur
  • 18/03/2012 00:00:00

This March 20th marks the celebration of Nu Roj, the Kurdish New Year, it also happens to concur with World Water Day as was designated by the United Nations during a 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. This is a day during which the entire world will be called upon to honor water, reminding us all of its role in fostering and sustaining life on the planet.

The future surety of a clean water supply for the people of Earth is in no way certain, with the current global population just above the 7 billion mark and rising, the United Nations Global Climate Change panel has earmarked future water security as one of its most important Millennium Development Goals. In recent decades the Earth has seen strange and abnormal weather because of the heat from the sun being trapped in the atmosphere by increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. These drastic changes in weather are largely associated with the increased pollution due to human activity during the last 120 years. One of the most pronounced effects on climate change is the overnight conversion of fertile land to desert, a process known as desertification, and in other parts of the world we are seeing the opposite with extreme and prolonged monsoon level rainfall. We are also seeing extreme temperatures, never before recorded heat waves and cold fronts that are lasting longer than normal. These climate changes are affecting mass migration patterns which are affecting world poverty levels which in turn are affecting the growing number of conflicts we are seeing in the world today. To see this change for yourself, visit NASA’s webpage on the climate change, or you can follow the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change being drafted at the Maritime Hotel in Bonn Germany this May, from the 14th to the 25th.

Water is the very essence of life, the liquid medium from which all life evolved. It has been integral to the shaping of the mythological and spiritual practices of every culture from antiquity to the present day. Many thousands of years ago, the Epic of Creation was being inscribed into the Clay Tablets of Ninevah by the people of Mesopotamia in what is now northern Iraq. These tablets are believed to be connected to the clay tablets found in Sultantepe, in the Kurdish city of Sanliurfa, which reflect mythological stories of the Creation dating back to prehistory.

According to the Mesopotamian Epic of Creation, life began with the existence of Good Water and Bad Water. From the fresh Good Water, the god Apsu, representing the good spirit, rises from the abyss. Tiamat his queen, representing chaos and war and epitomized by undrinkable salt water, also rises from the abyss to bring destruction to mankind. This dualistic view of water, although stilted unfairly, in its view of gender, is an apt metaphor for the water situation we are facing.

March 22nd, World Water Day, has been designated to bring awareness to the growing shortage fresh clean drinkable water, to help stop the further pollution of the global water supply, address the overall decline in water quality, and to also prevent future conflicts over this precious resource.

In the sequel to the Sumerian Epic of Creation, in the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament, water is from the depth of which the spirit of God was ascended to the heavens. God then separated Waters from Waters, which in today’s term, can be interpreted as to separate the clean-cloud rain water from the harmful rain mixed with the chimney-clouds of the industries.

Then on the ongoing course of creation, the rain fell and the seas, the lakes and the rivers were formed on the face of the earth and the Garden of Eden was created at the wellspring and along the rivers Tigris and the Euphrates.

Since time immemorial, these rivers with headwaters located in Kurdistan, take their path of flow through the upper and the lower Mesopotamia (land between the rivers), where along their banks, one of the earliest known human settlement took roots and flourished to be known today as the Cradle of Civilization.

In the Book of the New Testament, like the good spirit of Apu in the Epic of Creation, and the ascending spirit of God in the Book of Genesis, Water, is the symbol of true purity, used in Baptism. This sacred ritual of blessing to cleanse and purify one’s body and soul before an individual is admitted as member of a Christian Church, uses water as a medium to connect with God, the Holy Spirit who rose from the abyss. In a visit to the headwaters of the Ganges River in the Himalayas, one can also witness a similar religious ritual being practiced by the Hindus by submerging one-self in the waters of the Ganges River.

Clearly, today the Ganges River is considered to be highly polluted, yet the spiritual belief in the power of the Ganges Water remains very powerful and rightly so, because of its role in irrigation and agricultural sustainability that supplies food for hundreds of millions of people in India.

In the Holy Quran, reference to water is made at least in two distinct ways. One is real, which refers to the well of Zam Zam located near the religious site of Ka’aba at the center of the Grand Mosque of Makkah in Saudi Arabia. The other is a virtual image of water referred to as the Spring of Kausar, described as a fountain in paradise.

The spiritual significance of the well of Zam Zam, is that the story has it, that Prophet Abraham (Ur-Ayam, in Kurdish), with his son Prophet Ishmael, traveled in the hot, scorched condition of the Arabian desert where excessive thirst overwhelmed them. In response to their prayer to God for water, they came upon the well of Zam Zam. After quenching their thirst, in the nearby distance to the well, they found a cube shaped stone, (Ka-aba, Arabic word for cube), by the site of which they decided to build an Alter to worship and thank God for answering their prayer. Today, that ancient alter has become the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

The second image of water is from the virtual fountain of Kausar in paradise by which pleasant shady trees grow, where the angles reside and life is lived in eternal bliss. On this virtual image of water of life, one could argue, and for the following reasons, that the word Kausar, and the images of the location it depicts, is very much likely, to be of Kurdish origin with location in the hidden depth of the Zagros Mountains.

First, as in the Old Testament, the Garden of Eden is supposed to have been located by the headwaters of the Tigris and the Euphrates, in northern Mesopotamia. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the Holy Quran having many stories in common with the Old and the New Testaments, reflects also, the image of paradise in the gorges and canyons of Kurdish mountains where these rivers are sourced. In reality in the Zagros Mountains there are many natural waterfalls and fountain-like springs that truly resemble the description of the Spring of Kausar in paradise. Downstream of these waterfalls (Rizh-Aue), their waters converge into the Alvan and Za-Aue rivers and finally into the Tigris River.

Second, in the Kalhur and Guran regions of Kurdistan, references are made to “Aue-Kau-sar”, the water of kausar. Aue, in Kurdish means water, Kau means blue, or deep blue, and Sar, if spelled with (s), not (th), in Arabic, it means head or source. Therefore, in Kurdish, the word Kausar means a blue water fountain.

Third, as I have personally witnessed, in Rizh-Aue, which in Kurdish means waterfall, near the town of Sar-pyale Za-Aue, which also means, “bridge to the birth place of water”, there is a pool size spring with a huge old tree in the middle of the pool, which by all accounts its natural beauty resembles, if not surpassing, the beauty attributed to the Spring of Kausar, as described being in paradise. This spring is revered by the members of Yaresan Faith and its water flows to the plains of Za-Aue or Za-ab, which means the “birth-place of water” and from there it finally flows into the Tigris river.

Today, whether one is a faithful believer, a spiritualist or a secular person, need for water to sustain life is a universal need as it is a basic necessity for all. Therefore, on July 28, 2010, the General Assembly of United Nations adopted a resolution to recognize -right to water- to be a part of the Universal Human Rights.

Today, this is one of the urgent tasks before the world leaders to provide fresh clean water globally and by recognizing the right-to-water as a fundamental human rights make every effort to make water available and affordable to every person in the society.

In spite of the United Nations resolution on right to water, there still exist governments, particularly in the Middle East, with power and intentions to control and manipulate the water supply for political and economic gains. Ultimately, this monopoly over water if continues, will lead to social conflicts and warfare over access to water. These regimes, if left in power to continue their discriminatory social policies, they will be seen as the Tiamat(s) of the 21st century who will sooner or later have to face once again, the rising heroes of the Epic of Creation like Apu, Ea, Gilgamesh and Marduk of our time who will challenge the legitimacy of these governments regime after regime.

Now that the celebration of the most important Kurdish holiday, NuRoj, the Kurdish New Year, is on the way, arriving this year, on March 20th, at spring Equinox, it is our call to join global awareness to also honor Water, during this important celebration of spring. Like it has been a tradition in Kurdistan for nearly three thousand years to build and gather around the bonfires of NuRoj to receive and revere the magical warmth and power of fire, we should also hold a chalice (Jaaam) of fresh clean water and drink to cheer and honor this gift of nature on which our life depends. NuRoj, means a new day for the renewal of equality, it is a new day in the life of nature and it is a new day for the minds of for our leaders to open and awaken with the new rays of light, to be inspired with renewed ideas and commitments to act responsibly. Like the honest visionaries and inspiring intellects, leaders are obligated to work for the well being of the societies and be the protectorates of peace, justice, prosperity and the environment. With the arrival of Nuroj, we can all take part in this mission by supporting the leaders of the world to protect our rights to clean and fresh water supply everywhere and for everyone , and to honor this truly magical and miraculous substance we call Aue, the water, on the World Water Day, on March 22, 2012.

A new day, that dawns with a new ray of Roj,

Comes to enter the heart of the frozen souls in dark,

Deep beneath the earth or in the darkness of hearts

Seeds of hope grow with the vigor of light

To refresh the earth, and dreams of change

For a better New Roj, and a better new way,

So in Kurdish we say! The old anew,

Happy NuRoj to all because it’s a New Day,

For life to born anew!

For Kurdish American Education Society

Ardishir Rashidi-Kalhur

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Ardishir Rashidi-Kalhur
  • 18/03/2012 00:00:00