Category: Newroz

Learning about the Yezidi faith

 

Many thanks to A Burjus for answering my questions and being prepared to share his personal view of his religion with me.  In an effort to retain his voice I have largely posted his replies unadulterated.

Disclaimer: Please understand that this blog interview is a very subjective, personal view of the Ezidi faith and does not claim to be an exhaustive, academic account. Neither does it claim to represent the views of all Ezidi people.
Q: Welcome and many thanks for agreeing to share your religion with us. How do you like to be called? I’ve seen your religion written Yezidi, or Ezidi- what do you like it to be called? How did your religion come about?
 
A:
Before I answer your question, I would like to mention that there is very little true information about the religion because Ezidis have faced 74 genocides and hundreds of ethnic cleansings in their history. In addition, the Ezidi were not permitted to write about their religion in Iraq and Syria, where the majority of Ezidis are living, until 2003. In addition, Ezidi people were forced to live in villages and rural area where very little or no education was available. As a result, the Ezidi couldn’t write information about their religion, traditions and so on during the computer or electronic era. At the same time, many Muslim writers especially Iraqi-Arabs have written much incorrect information about Ezidis and their religion and until now there are hundreds of books and electronic pages filled with wrong information about Ezidis and their religion.
The correct name is Ezidi ( Ezi = God in our language) and the whole word means ‘God followers’, but, Yazidi or Yezidi is also true and is used more than Ezidi in the press and media. Quote: (Since their founding many thousands of years ago in India, these people have always been known as the Yezidis or Yazidis. According to Eszter Spat in The Yezidis, the name is derived from ez Xwede dam, meaning “I was created by God.” Some Yezidis maintain that it translates as “Followers of the true path.” The term Yezidi or Yazidi is also very close to the Persion/Zoroastrian word Yazdan, meaning “God“, and Yazata, meaning “divine” or “angelic being“.
For this reason some scholars have theorized a Persian origin for the Yezidis. Other scholars have associated the name Yazidi with Yazid bin Muawiyah, a Moslem Caliph of the early Umayyad Dynasty. According to the current Yezidi belief, however, the Yazidi religion has nothing at all to do with Yazidi bin Muawiyah, the Amoy leader and we believe that the Caliph Yazid was a Moslem ruler who eventually became disenchanted with his religion and converted to Yezidism). Source http://www.yeziditruth.org/the_yezidis
Q: I’ve heard that it is linked to Zoroastrianism. Is this true? Can you give me a brief history?
A: We believe and also many historic researchers believe that Yazidism is the first and very ancient religion on the earth. This means Yazidism is even older than Zoroastrianism. Yazidism and Zoroastrianism have many common links as both sanctify the four elements which are water, soil, wind and fire.
Q: What are the main ideas in your religion? Who do you worship?
A: We believe in One God and 7 angels. We call the head of the Angels Taws Malak or Peacock Angel.  Many people believe that the Yazidi worship the Peacock Angel without God!!! And they thought that Peacock Angel is the devil! That’s why they called us Devil Worshippers. Please read in this website more about peacock angel http://www.yeziditruth.org/the_peacock_angel
Q: What are the main festivals?
A: The Yezidi religious year includes four main holy festivals: The New Year, The Feast of Sacrifice, The Feast of Seven Days, Sept 23-30, The first Friday of December feast following three days of fasting.
Q: What is the role of women – are they considered equal? Do they have any religious roles?
A: Women and men are equal in Yezidism…They have the same religious role as men.
Q: What religious artifacts do you like to have in your homes?
A:  We have special shape of temple for all our religious places and I would like to have this artifact in my home…If you googled Lalish Yazidi temple you will see the shape
Q: Do you have any holy texts/ books and what are they called?

A: Our religious texts are memorised or save by heart by special religious groups and they transfer from one person to another(like school). This happens because in our history we believe that the enemy burned all our text and books and the only way to save the religious text was by memorizing by group of special people. We say that we have 2 books but we don’t have them in our hand and we don’t know what they contain!!! Here is some information about those books http://www.yeziditruth.org/yezidi_scriptures
Q: I’ve heard that your religion is very much supportive of wildlife and nature? Is this true and where does it come from? What is the relationship between Yezidism and nature?
A: Yezidism is very supportive to nature. We believe that the all universe and all organisms are made from nature and then we sanctify four natural elements, water, soil, wind and fire. In addition, we sanctify the sun and the moon too because we believe that they are the only source of the energy that the universe and organisms rely on. Also we see the greatness of God from the sun and the natural elements as we say if you think God is not found then think about the power of sun and the nature and you will see the God. I recommend you to read this http://www.yeziditruth.org/yezidi_religious_tradition  But even in this website there’s some incorrect information so please be aware…
Q: Thank you. That is a lot of very interesting information. I have learnt a lot more about the Ezidi faith. Just a few more queries. The special people who memorise the holy stories- can they be women too? I have seen pictures of Sheikhs on facebook, blessing people. Do these exist in your form of faith, who/ what are they and what is their role?
A: Yes they can be women and we have women who tell religious stories or text but the number of men are much more especially within Qawal categories…The Qawels
The Qawels are the bards and sacred singers. They bring forth religious knowledge, sacred hymns, songs and stories at special Yezidi gatherings and ceremonies, and they do so to the accompaniment of flutes, tambourines and other sacred instruments. Their roles are hereditary, and their wisdom is normally passed from parent to child. They reside principally in the Beshiqe-Behzani region of northen Iraq.
Sheikhs, who memorise religious texts, are mainly from the Qawal category as mentioned above however, other people can do that if they want and this is totally dependent on the person him/herself again…for example, my grandfather knows all most all religious text and role in Yazidism but he is not a formal religious leader.

We have also Kochek …The Kocheks, or “seers,” are servants of the Sanctuary of Lalish. Because they are blessed with spiritual gifts, such as clairvoyance, they can psychically diagnose illness and they even know the fate of a soul after leaving the body of the deceased. There are only a few Kocheks left, and they mostly reside in the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq. The female counterpart of Kocheks are known as Faqras. They are recognized as holy women with supernatural power. Kocheks and Faqras can come from any of the three main castes.

Q: Is anybody writing down any of the information they have memorised?
A: Recently, in 2005, the Ministry of higher Education in Kurdistan-Iraq finally agreed that Yazidi people can study and learn from a religious book called EZIDIATI…This book contains all prayers, traditional, many but not all religious texts and roles…This book is at many levels from primary school to middle school to secondary school…and now the Yazidi children are learning it.
Q: Why is there a preference for white clothing?
A: WHITE CLOTHES are a symbol of peace in our religion so almost all Yazidis
wear white clothes… We mean by that the human heart must be white, and we must act as a peaceful and truthful person.
Q: Does the faith have any formal organisation? Is there any idea yet of the amount of loss to the religion from the Daesh genocide in terms of the people holding the information in their memories?
A: Yazidi have a high spiritual religious committee that runs everything about the religion
Yes, Yazidis have lost some of the religious leaders during Daesh attacks.
Q: And finally what does your religion mean to you? How has it helped you in your life?
A: For me personally, I am not such a religious person but I believe in God and my religion but I am not doing all religious roles such as prayer and so on…My religion means for me a peace. I and all Yazidi people learn how to be a very peaceful people. For example, in one of our prayer we say ”’God please save all people on the earth and all organisms including Yazidis’. This means we are pray for everyone before praying for ourselves as Yazidis. My religion teaches me how to respect other people from different religions on the basis of humanity not religion…This point makes Yazidis  a target because we never ever had targeted any people even when we were powerful  historically and we always forgave those who were killing us.
In conclusion, Yezidism and its roles and traditions are not something obligational for the believer.  I mean our religious people do not force us to pray or carry out religious roles and so on and it totally depends on person and that is the best part about my religion.
Wow, what an interesting and inspiring religion. Thank you so much for sharing this with me and for answering all my questions.

Precious Peacock tiled relief at the City Palace in Udaipur, India

Kurdish Newroz celebrations – talk

I wrote and gave this talk at the Kurdish Newroz (New Year) celebration at Finsbury Park in London, shortly after Kosta was killed.

Thank you for inviting us here to share your new year’s celebrations. I know that Kosta was looking forward to participating in them with his new friends in Rojava. He spoke to me about Newroz with excitement and he would have loved to have been here.
 
Newroz at Finsbury Park, London, 2015
Newroz is a new celebration for me. I had heard of it but I didn’t really know much about it.  It seems to me that Newroz reminds us that the Kurdish people are one people no matter where they live. It reminds us that individually they are strong but together they could be unbeatable. It reminds us that they have a distinct, unique and ancient culture that should be valued and preserved.
Celebrations like this are bitter sweet. Among the joy of such a time we must all remember loved ones who are no longer with us and the struggle in which they were lost. Whether our loved ones were lost at Halabja or Heseke, Kobane, Til Hamis or Tikrit, whether they were lost years ago or yesterday their spirit lives on in our fight against injustice and unfairness.
At times like this it can be easy to become distracted by feelings of hatred and rage but remember that hatred is the dark, destructive emotion that fuels the so called IS. When the year is renewed and the coming months are, as yet, unwritten pages, we need to look forward and not back. We need to channel this rage at the injustice and the atrocities that are still being committed against Kurdish people, and we need to use it to fuel a strong and unshakeable resolve; a bone deep determination to succeed against this organisation no matter what.
Recently people have asked me, ‘What is the difference between Kosta, who went to join the YPG and fight in Syria, and the men who go out to join IS?’ You and I know what the difference is. Your friends and relatives live the reality every day. So called IS is aggressive, YPG like other Kurds, is defensive; IS is oppressive, YPG and the Kurdish people together, is about people and their right to free choice; IS seeks to suffocate and eradicate anything that doesn’t fit their belief system, YPG seeks to nurture and grow communities.
You and I know that self-styled IS must be defeated. There is no acceptable alternative. We will do what it takes and we will succeed because all the Kurdish people are on the side of humanity, the side that allows choice and fairness; that recognises the equality of women and the right to practise your own religion and culture.
 
The governments of all countries that share Western values need to understand that without the Kurdish people there would be no stopping this caliphate cult called IS. If Rojava wasn’t putting up such a brave and successful resistance, a resistance Kosta was part of, and if the resistance wasn’t also being realised in places like Tikrit in the Kurdish region in Iraq, then this caliphate cult would spread unhindered. This inhuman cult will not be happy with a little bit of Syria or a little bit of Iraq. It is a greedy monster that will continue eating peoples up until its belly is full to bursting with the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe, and then it will look even further afield.
 
The whole world is at risk from the dark ideology of caliphate cult IS and it is the Kurdish fighters at the front line every day who are keeping it at bay. Just as Newroz brings light to darkness and spring to winter so the Kurdish people create hope and courage against the darkness of Daesh and show how tyranny can be defeated.
I beg the governments of Europe, USA, Australia and all other countries that share similar beliefs about equality and freedom to make sure that all Kurdish people participating in the resistance are properly equipped and supplied to continue the fight; I beg them to make sure that all Kurdish people have access to medical supplies and proper aid. I beg these governments to understand exactly who the real terrorists are. I beg them not to get distracted. Please don’t turn your faces away.
Here in the UK what can we do? Well, there are at least seven thousand people here tonight. That’s seven thousand Kurdish voices. If everyone here writes one letter to their MP that will be almost every MP in the country who will be made aware of the issues. If every person here asks to meet with their MP and talk to them to discuss these issues, that would be seven thousand meetings across the country. The MPs may not be able to change anything yet but not one of them would be able to say that they don’t have a clear understanding of the and they would not be able to get away with ignoring it. It doesn’t matter whether you are a citizen of the UK or not. It doesn’t matter if you can speak and write English well or not. Your assembly can give you a letter to copy and you have the right for your voice to be heard.
 
There are approximately fifty thousand Kurdish people in the UK. If just thirty thousand of you write a letter to a Minister- let’s say, for example the Deputy Prime Minister, or the Secretary of State for Defence, that is a lot of letters for his staff to open and they have to answer every one of them. But imagine- if each of those thirty thousand Kurdish people gets three non- Kurdish friends to also write that is ninety thousand letters. If everyone sends all these letters in one week-wow! Even if the government doesn’t take any action this time it will start to wake up and it will have to take notice. We can use this power to pester the government and let them know that we will not be silent and we will not go away.
My son has lit a fire in the hearts of the Kurdish people. His death has directly touched hearts across three countries. Every one of you can keep that fire burning and continue to make the difference. Every one of you can light a new, small fire underneath your MP and the government and with those fires you can light the way together. Every one of you can reach out and tell your story. Every one of you can spread the message and make sure no-one forgets about the Kurdish people.
Thank you.
Newroz pirosbe. 

© 2017 Kosta's Olive Tree

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑