All needed measures in place for Nawruz in Mazar-i-Sharif
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): All needed measures have been taken for celebrating the upcoming new solar year and the traditional flag-hoisting ceremony in northern Balkh province, local officials said on Sunday.
Every year on the first of Hamal, March 21, Nawruz is celebrated across the country, especially in Mazar-i-Sharif where a flag is raised on the shrine of the fourth Islamic caliphate, Hazrat Ali (RWA).
People and government officials from different parts of the country travel to Mazar-i-Sharif to participate in the celebrations to be taking place two days after.
Balkh information and culture director Saleh Mohammad Khaliq told Pajhwok Afghan News the number of participants would be higher compared to the past.
He said weather was normal and security situation was better in Balkh compared to other years and that was why more people were expected to arrive in the city on March 21.
About a million people each year gather to attend the flag-hoisting ceremony in the provincial capital, he added.
Mazar-i-Sharif residents said they were happy the Nawruz festival was approaching.
One of them Mohammad Bashir said they hosted a large number of Afghans coming from around the country in Balkh on every Nawruz day.
He said various cultural programs, music concerts and exhibition of different types of arts were usually part of the Nawruz celebrations.
Balkh governor’s house has constituted a commission comprised of nine committees tasked with making arrangements for the festival.
Governor’s spokesman, Munir Farhad said Governor Atta Mohammad Noor headed the commission. The panel’s tasks included maintaining security, cleanliness and decoration, prices control and others.
Balkh Information and Culture Department is responsible for management of cultural events during the festival.
Information and culture director Saleh Mohammad Khaliq said they had planned cultural, artistic and literary programs during Janda-i-Bala (flag-hoisting) ceremony.
The participants would enjoy music concerts by a number of singers at the Balkh University’s hall free of cost on March 19, he said.
Besides Afghans, a number of signers from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, America and Iran would also perform during the celebrations, he added.
The ceremony will start everyday from 8am until late night and the programs would continue for the first entire week of the New Year.
An exhibition is also planned in which poets, scholars and illustrators would participate, Khaliq said, adding short artistic films, illustrations, photos, books and Nawruz special foods would be also displayed at the exhibition.
Provincial municipality officials had also begun cleaning Mazar-i-Sharif city and decoration of Rawza-i-Sharif (Shrine of Ali) from the last few days.
Mayor Nasir Ahmad Aini told Pajhwok they had started the cleaning process from March 5.
The Shrine of Ali or the Blue Mosque is decorated with special decorative beauties for every Nawruz Day. Aini said lighting decoration of the shrine had already been completed.
He was personally overseeing hotels and guesthouses to
make sure they were clean and offered quality service to visitors.
Tight security measures have also been taken for protection of the ceremony participants.
Balkh police spokesman, Sher Jan Durani, said a proper special security plan had been devised and its implementation was ongoing.
The plan involved the Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan National Army (ANA) and other security forces.
Durani added five rings of steel and security posts had been set up around the city, with all routes to the provincial capital placed under surveillance.
The Janda or flag is raised in an iron enclosure in between the mosque
and the mausoleum. People try to climb over the barricade often
hurting themselves or crushing other people in the effort.
Dr. Mirwais Rabbi, head of the provincial public health department, said
dozens of people fainted or were injured last year, but his department was well-prepared for this year.
A 24-hour medical camp will be stationed from March 16 to March 22 in
the garden of the Blue Mosque, staffed by both female and male
doctors, he said.
An extra 100 beds are being made ready at the hospital for unexpected
incidents and the number of health workers on duty that day will be
doubled, he said.
Senior government officials also participate in the flag raising ceremony. Munir Farhad said last year’s Nawruz festival was participated by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and a number of other government officials. Some of consulate generals of foreign countries had also participated in the ceremony, he said.
A number of governors from neighboring countries have been invited by the government to participate in the Nawruz celebration in Balkh province.
Farhad said governors from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Iran were to jointly celebrate the opening of the New Year with Afghans.
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