Nowroz in Dalieh
Over the years, Dalieh—currently on the 2016 Watch—has been used by a wide variety of social groups who have animated the life of this area while providing a form of sustainable livelihood for many low-income city-dwellers. Until recently, the appropriators of Dalieh included Beiruti fishermen, city dwellers and tourists of multiple interests, national and religious belonging.
There are countless stories about the social significance of Dalieh. It was one of Beirut’s manateq at-tanazuh (promenade sites); a destination of siran—an activity which involves strolling, promenading, recreation, and the preparation of food (especially barbecue) in natural sites; and the location of repeated rituals.
One of these rituals is Nowroz—the Persian New Year—which has been celebrated in Dalieh since the 1980s by the Kurdish community living in Beirut, a sizable social group that has resided in Lebanon for several decades—and whose numbers increased throughout the 1990s. Members of the Kurdish community gather in Dalieh on the 21st of March every year, transforming the site with thousands of users setting up food kiosks and a music stage. They dance all day carrying their national flags.
Ribar Kobani, a rights activist and Kurdish-Syrian resident of Beirut, shared with us an account of this year’s Nowroz celebration. He is a member of the Dalieh Campaign, a coalition of individuals invested in safeguarding Beirut’s livability.
With the first day of every spring, more than 120,000 Kurds living in Lebanon since the beginning of the last century celebrate Nowroz. They maintain the celebrations of their grandparents in Kurdistan. They dance and sing in open spaces and fest on traditional cuisine and desserts.
In Beirut, Kurds mostly live in the areas of Barbour, Barbir, Bourj Hammoud, and Nabaa. For a long time, they chose Dalieh as a place for their Nowroz celebrations. Everyone knows Dalieh. It’s beautiful, close, and easy to visit and reach. No need for an address!
This year, crowds of Kurds came to Dalieh from everywhere. Mostly Syrian Kurds, from Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib, and other parts of Syria. Iraqis, Palestinians, and Lebanese also came to celebrate Nowroz.
Dalieh, bride of Beirut, flame of Nowroz, pearl of the Mediterranean Sea, you bring us together every year. You embrace us in your terrain, slopes, and geography. You’re there for us every spring. We salute and thank you. Your presence makes us happy. You’re an important treasure to Beirut, Lebanon and all of us. Without you, we wouldn’t be together.
You’re sad and we feel your sorrow. You’re worried that you’ll lose us and we’ll lose you someday. But we’ll always stand by your side, ready to save and protect you, just like you protect and bring us together every year and every spring.
We say to you:
You are the torch of Nowroz
Newroz bê te jîan Na bê
Newroz li te pîroz bê