[LALISH, Nineveh, Iraq. April 17, 2017] – On the occasion of the Yezidi New Year festival the Baba Sheikh Khurto Hajji Ismail, the ‘Pope’ of the Yezidis, has issued a message of hope and renewal to all humanity. Sere Sal festival is celebrated on Charshema Sor or ‘Red Wednesday’, the first Wednesday of the year 6767 according to the Yezidi or Assyrian calendar.
“This is not the time for Yezidis to abandon themselves to despair,” said the Baba Sheikh. “Sere Sal is the beginning of renewal and healing for our community.”
Fertility and the renewal of life play a central role in Yezidi religious life. No Yezidi festival better illustrates this than Sere Sal, the spring fertility festival of annual renewal that symbolizes the story of creation, immortality, death, rebirth and incarnation, in the renewed cycle of life and fertility.
The Baba Sheikh cautions that “Yezidis should do more than simply recall the passion of creation, life, and rebirth. When we stand together, united in these times of adversity, we are also participating in the renewal and rebirth of our ancient Yezidi nation, Ezidikhan.”
“With so many of our community displaced in foreign lands, many of us are unable to perform pilgrimage to Lalish this year.” He concluded saying, “I am keeping all of you in our prayers and I ask Yezidis around the world to keep our community in their prayers.”
The Yezidi New Year festival Sere Sal commemorates a remote time when the ‘Peacock Angel’ Tawûsê Melek descended to a barren trembling earth and blanketed it beneath his brilliant wings in order to bless this planet with peace and fertility. It is the oldest surviving feast in all Mesopotamia.
Charshema Sor, a day when all work ceases, is a time of rest, reflection, and worship. The celebrations begin Tuesday evening, when the glow of candles and lamps fills Lalish Valley to welcome the New Year, announcing the birth of spring and the new cycle of life and rebirth.
Yazidis are monotheists, believers in one God, who created the world and entrusted it into the care of a Heptad of seven Holy Beings, often known as Angels or heft sirr (‘Seven Mysteries’). Preeminent among these is Tawûsê Melek (frequently known as ‘Melek Taus’), the ‘Peacock Angel’.
Yazidis believe that the Peacock Angel, Tawûsê Melek, is God’s Regent on Earth, and that he descends to Earth on the first Wednesday of Nisan (April). Yazidis hold that God created Tawûsê Melek on this day, and observe it as New Year’s Day, a time of remembrance, renewal, and fertility.
The New Year is 6767 in the Yezidi or Assyrian calendar, a lunar-based calendar that begins in the year 4750 BCE, making it the world’s oldest living calendar in use. Its roots date back to the time of the ancient Mesopotamians who first invented calendars and astrology.
The Yezidi leadership stands firmly committed to the return of Yezidis from their refugee status around the world.