Norouz Celebrations On in Afghanistan

February 25, 2002
TEHRAN -- Afghanistan's interim government is planning public celebrations for next month's traditional New Year holiday, Norouz, which was banned by the former Taleban regime.

Norouz, a feast from ancient Iranian culture, is celebrated at the beginning of spring. It is also celebrated by Kurds and some regional countries.

State Television in Kabul said interim leader Hamid Karzai has set up a commission Saturday to plan events for Norouz (new day), which falls on March 21 coinciding with the beginning of spring.

The Taleban, which imposed hard-line rule on Afghanistan from 1996 until late last year, banned public celebrations in Norouz. The move raised concern of the Afghan people.

The militia also banned an annual flag-raising ceremony that had been held in the presence of high-ranking officials in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Afghanistan's 87-year-old former king Mohammad Zahir Shah, who has lived in exile in Rome since he was toppled in 1973, has promised to be in Afghanistan for the celebrations next month.