Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Context and Culture

Happy Eid! And ten stories of celebrations and customs from all over the country

AAN Team 21 min

Finally, after a month of dawn-to-sunset fasting, Eid al Fitr approaches, the Feast of the Breaking the Fast. The country will slow down significantly, Afghans take three to seven days off, the men go for Eid prayers, and for once there will be (hopefully) more play than politics. But Eid is more than that. There is an astonishing variety of local customs around these days, riches of dishes, games and other traditions making Eid al Fitr a special and happy holiday. The AAN team has gathered a collection of them from all over the country, speaking to people from rural areas and urban centres, men and women. Listen into, for example, the old mulla’s memories about Eid in snowy and poor Bamyan decades ago. Learn more about the funny Eid customs in Khost where people gather for speed-lunches, have a look at Eid in one of today’s IDP camps or read about how the women of Kapisa prepare their special per qandi or qutakhi. You might find yourself wanting to try out some of the games so enthusiastically played in the provinces, from egg-fighting to ghursai – a type of wrestling done on one leg.

The Blue Mosque in Mazar-e Sharif. Famous mosques and shrines like this one attract thousands of Afghans for Eid prayers. The Blue Mosque is also the central venue of the new year's celebrations. There are interesting parallels between both festivities, read more in several of the accounts we gathered on Eid. Photo: Christine Roehrs

The Afghanistan Analysts Network wishes all its friends a happy and peaceful Eid al Fitr – and an enjoyable read.

Memories of Eid in snowy, poor Bamyan
Baba Mohseni, 65, religious elder in Foladi village, Hazarajat

“I like to think back to the Eids of my youths. In the past, people were not rich, and we were often very hungry here in the Hazarajat. The dishes we used to prepare for Eid we got only once or twice per year. People were so excited about the food. I remember us children singing a song that went like this: ‘shir letti, shakar letti – e-chandha, kuja budi?’ Shir letti is a local dish made of water, milk and a special kind of flour called omaj. The translations of the song would mean ‘shir letti, sweet shir letti, where have you been all this time?’ The other very special Eid dish we would look forward to was shir brenj, milk-rice.

On the morning of the first day of the Eid, everyone went to the cemetery first. They still do. Then they distribute nan-e rughani – oiled bread – or chalpak – a kind of fried pancake – to the poor people. With this gesture, the people also ask God to be kind to their dead relatives in the other world.

In the afternoon, the people play. In the past, we used to play tup danda, a game similar to cricket, shirbuz bazi, which is like chess, and lo bazi. The latter involves a stick lying on the ground and a larger stick in the player’s hand. The player hits the stick on the ground with his stick in a way that the stick on the ground jumps up a little, and exactly in this moment the player must try to hit it and catapult it as far through the air as possible. But today, the children would rather play football or volleyball.

Today, Eid is in the hot summer, but when I was small, it was in winter. The elders would sit somewhere at a warm place and read poetry from Dewan Hafiz or Shahnam-e Ferdawsi or verses by Amleh Haidari about the hero Hazrat Ali. People would sit in front of them and listen intently. But we children would go for lakhshak. We would take a piece of iron or other metal, climb up a snowy mountain, sit on our metal pieces and then slide down the steep hills – oh, so fast!

In the past, only rich people were able to have new clothes made for Eid. We were lucky if we had soap to wash them for this occasion; usually, we would use oshtugh, the leaves of a wild plant instead of soap. I remember vividly that one year my father bought me linen clothes, which were very expensive at that time. I don’t remember how old I was, but I still know it was a snowy day. I went out in my new fine clothes to play lakhshak – and they tore down the whole left side! My father sent for me to help him distribute food to the poor, and I was so scared he would discover the damage. I never turned my left side to him the whole day, which was very difficult and must have looked stupid. He himself did not notice anything, but of course my mother did when I came home in the evening. She cried, but she protected me. I later learned that she told him the sheep had eaten my new clothes.”
(recorded by Ehsan Qaane)

Eid in Helmand – Eid in an IDP camp
Jabar, 35, farmer from Sangin district, now Charahi Qambar camp, Kabul

“The worst and at the same time best Eid I ever had was about six years ago. Two months before, a plane had dropped a bomb in the middle of our village, Khoshaq. It made a crater so deep that water gathered in it. Many people died. Their bodies lay in pieces all around the bombsite, but no one dared to collect and bury them for two days, for fear another bomb might fall. I had been hit by a flying piece of metal. It cut right through my right side. I still can’t walk or work properly. But when Eid came that year, I was still alive, thanks to God who gave me my life back.

About a year later, we all left. We were 35 families, leaving behind a village with a hole in it, destroyed fields and walls full of anxiety. We went to Kabul, seeking safety. We are safe from bombs now, but we do not have cows or goats. We do not have proper houses. We do not have land or anything green in our yards.

But Eid is always the happiest month for us although a lot has changed for us here, too.

In the morning of the first Eid day, we cook rice with meat or beans – it depends on the money – and then we pack a plate full and take it with us to the mosque. We pray, and afterwards we eat together in the mosque, before we start the usual round of visits to all houses.

I remember well how in Helmand I used to go see the wise pir(1) to do zekr with him, too. This is a beautiful experience. Among hundreds of people, I would sit with him and repeat and repeat and repeat just one word for hours until my soul was calm and refreshed. Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah…. And we would go fishing in the afternoons. Helmand’s waters have fish as big as lambs! They are so tasty that a corpse would want to rise to get a bite.… And they don’t have bones, so you can give them to the children. A big piece would cost ten Afghani only.

And then there was a three-day fair. Everyone would come for games and food and more. A few days before Eid, the men and children would go to the ground chosen for the fair and claim a few metres of space for whatever they wanted to offer: a game, story telling or something for sale. During Eid itself there would be bird fights and dog fights and egg fights or ghursai. For ghursai two men stand opposite of each other, on one leg, holding the other leg with one hand behind the back. They then hop towards each other and try to make each other fall or drop the second leg by pushing with their shoulders. We laughed so much. Wrestling was also popular. There were usually three or four local teams called pahlawan.

In this camp, we do not have space to set up a fair. My children go play in their new Eid clothes, but they don’t know the games I played as a child. I tell them about it, and then they ask why we live in this place. I tell them, ‘Listen, children, this is not our home. We are not from here. We are from Helmand. We have a home, a beautiful home, far away, with neighbours and friends and family and trees.’ This is what I tell them on Eid.”
(recorded by Christine Roehrs)

Cooking per qandi and qutakhi in Kapisa
Khala Latifa, (maybe) 38, cook in Kabul

“I am a cook, and I like good food, so I will start by telling you about the special dishes I and the other women of Kapisa prepare for Eid. Food is very important during Eid. We all eat a lot, and as people come to visit my house, I also have to prepare a lot for the guests.

On one day before Eid, we buy 200 to 300 eggs, boil them and paint them in seven colours: red, purple, green, yellow, pink, black and white. When I was young, we used to use herbs, vegetables or fruits to colour the eggs. We used to put them into the water the eggs were boiling in. To get pink eggs, we would, for example, add onion skin. However, today we buy colour powder in the bazaar. Later on, we arrange the eggs in pretty baskets and offer them as a meal or for egg-fighting.

On another day, all the people who have goats or cows gather together and collect milk in big buckets. Then the women make cheese out of it. Before Eid, the cheese is cut into different shapes and arranged on plates. Some people also cut their cheese and then fry the pieces in oil. This dish is called kula sambeli.

I also prepare qutakhi. For this kind of meal I first filter yogurt until it is all dry and hard: chaka-e masti – concentrated yogurt. Then I prepare a dough of flour and eggs and form balls, each the size of a fist. We flatten each of the balls until we have flat round pieces. We put the yogurt pieces on the dough; some people now also add some sugar. Then another dough piece is pressed onto the yoghurt, and the two dough pieces are tightly pinched together so that the yoghurt cannot escape anymore. Then we put a pan on the fire (in the past people used pans made of stone) and add one or two tablespoons of oil. The dough-yoghurt balls need to be fried until they are slightly pink on all sides.

Per qandi is another favourite where I come from. To prepare it, I take about two kilos of dried black or white berries with one and a half kilos of walnuts and then pound the berries and walnuts until they are pulverized. Then I mix the pulverized walnuts and berries, put the mixture in a round pot and press it strongly until the mass gets firm. Then I cut the per qandi into pieces and arrange them on small plates to be offered to guests.

Beside this, I and the other women prepare different kinds of cookies, usually from milk, yellow oil and eggs. We also prepare bowls full of pistachios and jalghoza sia – pine nuts.

When Eid starts, I arrange altogether five or six dishes on a big beautiful table cloth, the dasterkhawan, on the floor in the room where we receive the guests and refill everything from morning until evening. This is, of course, a lot of work for me and the other women, but we also have time to enjoy. In the provinces, people celebrate Eid for seven days – a whole week – not only three days like in the city. This is because many men do not have jobs, except maybe going to the fields or tending to their animals, and the women, too, do not have jobs like the city women.

I will tell you a bit of the games we women play.

One night before Eid, the young girls gather together and apply henna to each others’ hands, painting flowers and other designs while older women just put a smudge of henna on the middle of their palms. When Eid starts, we, like the men, go visit each other, showing off our new clothes. One very old game we play is a kind of marionettes-game. We take long sticks and give them hands and heads from pieces of wood and cloth. Then we dress the dolls in colourful clothes. When they are ready, we distribute them, one doll for each woman, and move them as if they were dancing.

Or we just go out into a beautiful garden and build us a swing by hanging ropes from tree branches. Most girls love gaz khordan – swinging. The older women, meanwhile, sit under a tree, drink tea, chat and spread out the food they have brought for everyone to eat together.”
(recorded by Wazhma Samandary)

Horse riding and lances in Paktika
Nadir Khan Katawazai, “around 50”, Member of Parliament

“I don’t know yet if I will go home to Paktika for Eid this year. My family is there, and the people who vote for me are there. But just recently, my brother was severely injured in an ambush by unknown gunmen, and they brought him to Kabul to a clinic. Maybe I will stay with him this year.

If I go, I will go to the mosque in the mornings. The men in Paktika go to the mosque not necessarily to perform Eid prayers themselves, especially in small villages and remote districts, but rather to hear what the mulla is talking about. Afterwards, the mulla asks the villagers to pay the obligatory sarsaya. According to the Sharia, every individual is obliged to give the cash value of a quarter of a ser of wheat (a ser is seven kilograms) to poor people at the end of Ramadan.

After handing out the sarsaya, we say, ‘Happy Eid,’ to everyone and hug each other. Then we start visits. First, we would visit those families who have lost someone before Eid. In these families, people usually do not wear new clothes because they are still mourning, although traditionally everyone has new clothes made to celebrate Eid. The custom is to encourage the family members to go and put new clothes on, it is way of telling them that life goes on.

In the evenings, those boys whose ‘feet are free’ – psha khlas – go and visit their fiancées in the houses of their future fathers-in-law. Psha khlas means that the families of the two young people, after the official engagement, went through a certain ceremony that allows the boy to see his future wife before the wedding. His feet are free to walk towards her, so to say.

They are lovely days. Kids are knocking on doors, shouting, ‘Happy Eid,’ and awaiting their eidi. The women of house usually give them dried fruits, and the men give a little bit of cash. And then the games start. While the girls are going to the shrines to pray and do zangigi –swinging with the swings hanging from tree branches – the young men are playing naiza – they are riding horses and at full speed try to hit a lance into a small target on the ground.”
(recorded by Gran Hewad)

Living a man’s life – enjoying women’s Eid in Parwan
Saro Naz Hashemi, 35, business woman/man, Sufyani Bala village

„I am living a man’s life. One of the very few times in life where I can still be a woman, is during Eid. But let me start at the beginning.

I was born into a wealthy family. My father was a wholesale merchant and we had a good life. But when I was 11 years old, my only brother was killed in a clash with a muhajed and all of a sudden, I needed to to take over his responsibilities and help with the family business. My parents started to dress me as a boy. Me leaving the protection of the house and working with men was actually not that much of a problem. We have many roshanfikr, educated people in the village, who do not think a girl is worth less than a boy or cannot do what a boy can do. Up to today, most of the girls in our village go to school.

I never wanted to dress like a boy. But life is strange. It takes you to unexpected places. Eventually, I adopted most of the men’s habits, I even wear men’s clothes, although sometimes – for example going to weddings and having to stay on the women’s side of celebrations – I still get confused which side I belong to: the men or the women? I do most of my business deals with men, such as property deals or the buying and selling of vehicles. In the beginning, I had armed guards to protect me from strangers. Later on I bought my own pistol. I am very successful today. However, to leave all memories behind and be a brave man, this is not easy for a girl.

One of the very few times where I can still be a woman, is during Eid. I treasure this time of the year. There is no confusion, no conflict. I still wear men’s clothes but I do not go to the mosque as a man would. Instead I prepare the food. No market bakery could replace our home made cake-e tandori, oven cookies. Their delicious taste lingers in your mouth until next year’s Eid. Despite the fact that I had to be out of the house and do business so often, I learned how to make them. They are made of flour, oil, milk, butter and eggs – and they require team work. At least four women have to join hands. I prepare the dough, my mother fires the tandor, my sister kneads the dough, my other sister passes the pieces on to my mother who puts them into the oven, and then it is my turn again, taking them out of the fire and glazing them with butter and eggs. It is a lovely day at home among the women.“
(recorded by Obaid Ali)

Speedy lunches and egg-fighting in Khost
Pir Muhammad Karwan, renowned Pashto poet, “maybe in my early fifties”

” When I was a child, my mother would put henna on my hands. All children, boys and girls, would do this on the eve of Eid. But, when I grew older, I learned it was improper for men to apply henna. I was told it looked womanish. But I could not forget the joy and the feeling of the festivities and celebration just around the corner when my mother would gently apply henna to my palms in the light of an old lantern, the only lighting we had at that time. I missed it. Then, one year, I had to take a camel to faraway mountain near the border with Pakistan to collect firewood. Due to the cold weather – it was late autumn – I got blisters and cracks on my hands and feet. Henna is known to heal blisters and cracked skin, and if you apply it as a treatment, it is not considered ridiculous or improper for men. So in this year, it was around 30 years ago, I had a good excuse to put henna on my hands before Eid. It was a lovely reminder of my childhood and of my hands on my mother’s knees, her applying the henna, tenderly and carefully. It is my favourite Eid memory.

We have some interesting Eid customs in Khost that bring the people closer to each other. One of them is the short en-masse lunches at every villager’s home. We call this penda. There are several mosques in my area, and in every mosque the men get together at around ten o’clock in the morning after offering prayer. Afterwards, they collectively start to visit the homes of each man in the group. They have lunch at every house. It is not a full lunch, of course. Everybody picks some bits from the dastarkhwan or floor table. And then the group leaves to go to another house. The philosophy behind this many-lunches-in-one-day is that every home gets a chance to host all the villagers. If people had a full lunch at one of the houses, the other families would be deprived of the honour of hospitality. This custom is both social and useful – useful particularly for families that cannot afford to offer much food because they are too poor. But every family can at least provide some bites.

The crowd needs to finish its round through the houses by midday which means people have to rush. This is fun. They rush in, eat a bit and rush out again after only a few minutes in every house.

The young women and girls form their own visiting crowds, usually after the men finish, for a late lunch or on the second day of Eid. The women tend to divide themselves into smaller groups to keep it manageable. And they spend much more time in every house than the hasty men.

The favourite food served at these lunches is da mayo wrezhy, which is rice mixed with dried chickpeas served on big plates whose centre has a little hollow for boiled butter.

However, this tradition is waning and has almost ended in most parts of Khost, and generally in Loya Paktia. I think it is probably due to the effects of the wars that spread hatred and created division among the people. Today, they are far less interested in socialising than they used to be. I think this is sad.

Another part of the Eid traditions is hagey jangawal or egg-fighting. Coloured eggs are an integral part of Eid (see last story in this dispatch – How the Eggs got into the (Eid) Game), especially for young men. Eggs are given as gifts to the visiting men by their female relatives and co-villagers. When lunch is done, crowds of youths come together in a square of the village to do egg-fighting. One person knocks his egg head-on against another one held in the fist of a competitor. Every egg that breaks is lost to the other side. The rich youth or people who got many eggs line up a big number of eggs, a couple of dozens or so, and keep knocking them in turn against each other until the last one breaks. The last one determines the fate of all the eggs at play, winning them all if it remains unbroken or losing them all if it breaks.

Egg-fighting is already being seen as a bit old-fashioned. And people also start to look a little suspiciously at the game. They now say it is some sort of gambling, which is illegal in Islam, mostly because mullas are campaigning against it.

Another Eid tradition has survived all the political and social upheavals: young men dancing the traditional Afghan folk dance, the attan, to drums. Every district, major city or province has specific festivity spots where people come together for attan. We have such a place near a forest of pine trees, which also hosts the grave of a saint, called Aad Muhammad. There is another place on a hill near Khost city for those living around the provincial capital. That place is also known by the tomb of the saint Kikrak Baba. Dancers usually come together here on the second and third day of Eid. It is usually a small group of enthusiastic youths that does the dancing to two or three drums, swirling and jumping in wild circles around the dirt ground. People come in hundreds to watch the spectacle. I don’t know if the grounds close to the tombs have been chosen deliberately for the dancing. Maybe this can has been inspired by some Sufi traditions in which the dervishes perform their whirling dances at the tombs of saints.

Young girls have their own village gatherings around a tomb or graveyard, but only on village-level. They play chamba (also called tambal), a tambourine with a skin stretched across the wooden frame, and sing in an orchestrated manner for a couple of hours. One girl sings the first verse, and then the others repeat it with her. It is lovely. But this custom, too, is slowly vanishing from our villages.
(recorded by Borhan Osman)

Red hats and wrestlers in Faryab
Mahroof Samar, 36, Uzbek, head of the civil society in Maimana

“I am an Uzbek from Afghanistan’s north, from Faryab, and I have to tell you, Eid in my province is like nothing else in the country. I always want to be in my province for Eid. My worst Eid was when I was stuck in Mazar-e Sharif, still a student and with no money for the trip home. How I missed all the excitement and festivities.

In Faryab, we do not only wear new clothes – we wear special clothes. We first put on a white shalwar kameez. The stylish young men then wind a red piece of cloth around their waist; this bit of cloth is called gul-e shaftalu-e ruman, peach flower. They also put an Uzbeki hat on their heads, It is red, too. Obviously, some youngsters wear such conspicuous styles to attract the girls. On top of it all goes a chapan, a long coat with green and blue stripes. Mine is handmade and of silk.

I, and many others in Faryab, eat fish at home on the first day of Eid. It is important to eat fish on the first day of Eid. We simply fry it, but it is a very old tradition.

Uzbek women traditionally also offer special homemade cookies on the first day of Eid. Some women would do nazr, which means to distribute a certain kind of traditional homemade baked good, sozma(crispy kind of bread, the size of half an A4 page), to the people attending the prayers in the mosque. Nazr is done mainly to appreciate Allah’s gifts, as a gesture of gratefulness and a way to let other people have a part in their happiness. It is a deal between God and a believer. For instance, a woman would say if Allah gave her a boy, she would distribute nine sozma on Eid day. When she got a boy in the year after Eid, she would certainly go and offer the promised nine sozma to the people attending the next Eid’s prayers.

After prayers, I love to go watch the kushti geri, the wrestling competitions. For Eid, we have special kushti geris. More people are coming, and the man who wins during Eid becomes particularly famous. Most of the villages have their own kushti ger, their champion. People from villages far away come to see the fights and to see who will be the strongest man in all the villages.”
(recorded by Obaid Ali)

A new kind of Eid and some solitude in Kabul
Zubaida Akbar, 23, law student, media manager for an international NGO

“I remember, when I was a child and we lived in Jawzjan and Pakistan, I used to be much more excited about Eid than I am today. With me growing up, getting to know customs from a wider world and developing new values – getting a good education, building a career, seeing the world – the old traditions slowly got a different importance. It is not that I do not cherish Eid anymore – it is more that it gets a smaller share of my attention in a fuller life.

I see this also in many of my friends. I am very much of a family person, so I will go home this afternoon to bake cookies for Eid with my mum, and I’ll enjoy to see my siblings and my father. I will be with them on Eid, looking forward to my father coming back from the mosque, marking the start of the festivities. But many others don’t care so much about seeing their family anymore. They work hard during the week, so the three days of Eid is more about being able to sleep in and having a little time to themselves rather than visiting aunts and uncles. Young people are not that close to every single relative anymore, they are busier with their own lives. I married, and my husband and I are living in an apartment of our own now instead with his or my family. I go to university from five in the morning to eight, then work from eight to five in the afternoon – and afterwards, I am often busy with the children’s charity some friends and I are running. I need some space and calm at night. Or I like to go out with my friends to a restaurant and have a tea and chat.

I see a transition happening and I do think that this is a good thing. The social life is shifting, we are making room for our own, new traditions. I see many friends rather celebrate Valentine’s Day than Eid. It is new and a lovely idea. And, in Kabul at least, it is being much more actively promoted than Eid. I understand the reflex to celebrate something like Valentine’s Day although I myself love Eid. And for everyone who criticises it: I also think, this is our own fault. Not much work has been done to preserve our culture and customs, particularly in the urban centres.

I remember that in Jawzjan, as a child, I literally saw the suspense build before Eid. There used to be an Eid market days before the festivities. Street vendors would sell dried fruits and henna and shiny new clothes. There were special Eid sales. People would start to produce food together publicly. All of this would get people in a festive mood. Eid in Kabul nearly passes me by. There might be a banner of a telecom firm wishing Happy Eid – but this is about it.

I think we need to be careful that we do not leave behind too many of our customs and cultural values in this transition process. I will have a baby boy in a few months and I want my son to be excited about Eid. I don’t want him to sleep in when he grows up.”
(recorded by Christine Roehrs)

Yearning for Kabul – Eid of an Afghan refugee in Germany
Nazifa Sediq, 60, who left Kabul in 1984

“I am living in Germany for nearly 30 years now, but I still am a little sad during the Eid days. It is the time of the year when the memories surface. I miss the roads of my Kabul, the crowded bazaars and the happy faces of people looking forward to Eid. I can nearly smell the Eid cookies being prepared in each house.

Eid still means happiness for me, forgetting enmities and forgiving each other. I think, most exile Afghans see it the same way. Only very few of us do not observe Eid at all anymore.

Of course, we do not have days off. Eid is not a holiday in Germany. Instead, we celebrate at night or on the weekend. When my mother and father were still alive, they would always cook some of the traditional Afghan meals like qabeli palaw. My brothers and sisters who live in different parts of Germany came to visit them and then we celebrated all together. However, both my mother and my father died last year, so on Thursday, after work, I will go to their grave and pray for them. Since Saturday is a weekend day here in Germany, all sisters and brothers will gather in the garden of my son-in-law. We will all bring food along, we will eat and speak of our memories of Afghanistan and we will give eidi to the children. I still remember how happy I was when my father gave me five Afghani. I would usually go to the shop and spend it all on mosheng, a chickpea dish.

We do not buy new clothes for Eid, our clothes are all new and fine anyway. We also do not bake cookies or buy candies as we did in Afghanistan. It takes too much time, we are all working – and we also think about our weight. Some of us keep the fast during Ramadan. I have diabetes so I cannot fast all 30 days. I try on some of them, though. Those who want to go for Eid prayers, have to go to a Turkish mosque. There are no Afghan mosques. But the Turkish mosques accept women.

What I really wish for is that Afghanistan will be a safe place again so that we can all go and celebrate Eid together with our relatives, as we used to.
(recorded by Wazhma Samandary)

Background: How the egg got into the (Eid) game
Eggs – coloured and boiled – often appear in Afghan religious festivities. During Eid, the egg-fighting is particularly popular (as described in many of the accounts above), but coloured eggs are also offered as part of festive Eid meals. The roots of these customs, however, seem to predate the Islamic religious festival. Many reports mention eggs as decorational elements particularly during the new year – nawruz – festivities, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian and Afghan calendar. Nawruz has, in this region, been celebrated for at least 2,500 years whereas Islam came up only in the seventh century. Such a linkage can well explain why the eggs are unique to Muslim religious festivities in Afghanistan, Iran and parts of Pakistan.

Author Greg Dues, in his book Catholic Customs and Traditions (Twenty-Third Publications, 1992), elaborates on the symbolism of eggs in ancient pre-Christian cultures: “In ancient Egypt and Persia friends exchanged decorated eggs at the spring equinox, the beginning of their New Year. These eggs were a symbol of fertility for them because the coming forth of a live creature from an egg was so surprising to people of ancient times.” As Thomas Ruttig put it in an AAN dispatch dealing with The Easter Egg Question in the Light of Orientalism: conservative mullas are aware that the egg element “is pre-Islamic or, in their interpretation, non-Islamic”. He describes how the Taleban even “tried to ban the egg fighting (and celebrating Nawruz altogether). In Gurbuz district of Khost this even led to a mini-war in 2001, expressing local disdain with the joyless regime in general.”

However, egg-fighting, or egg-tapping, is also present in some Western cultures. (see this). Some academic sources reinforce the notion that the egg element is a cross-cultural phenomenon.

(1) Pir is the title of a Sufi master (Sufi = mystical part of Islamic belief system) whose role is to spiritually guide and instruct disciples. In Afghanistan, this often happens through individual guidance. The pir’s disciple takes an oath of allegiance and then he is called a murid (committed one). A pir is usually authorised to teach spiritual practices for a particular Sufi order. Pirs are highly respected by their followers as they are considered holy men or, in some other countries (mainly in the Maghreb, Sub-saharan Africa and some peripheral areas of the Indo-Muslim world), even living saints. Serving them food and giving them money and gifts is considered an honour for the murids. Some pirs become so influential that no one would harm them or challenge their authority. The level of commitment and loyalty to a pir is even higher than that to a mulla or a malek (village chieftain). Pirs are sometimes talked of performing miracles (karamat) and healing diseases while they are alive, but it is chiefly their tombs (ziarat) which become the object of popular devotion after their death. For the murids, they keep dispensing the “blessing power” (barakat) the Pir used to bestow on disciples during his life.


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