NORTH & EAST SYRIA: Syriac parties and cultural organizations cancel all celebrations for Akitu New Year

Akitu is an official holiday in the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

Zalin (Qamishli), ܒܝܬ ܙܠܝ̈ܢ‎ – All Syriac parties and cultural organizations in the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) announced the cancellation of this month’s Akitu New Year’s celebrations due to the measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in North and East Syria. As large festival gatherings are breeding grounds for the spread of the virus all gatherings and celebrations are cancelled. Akitu is the Chaldean-Assyrian-Babylonian New Year and falls in the first days of April.

Co-Chair of the Syriac Union Party, co-founder of the DAA, Sanharib Barsoum confirmed to North Press news agency that, “these precautionary measures fall within the instructions and directives of the self-administration in North and East Syria, as is the case with the rest of the Syrian regions in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.”

Assyrian Democratic Organization chairman Daoud Daoud, a Syriac political party in the Syrian opposition which held a seat in last year’s UN-led constitutional talks in Geneva, told North Press Agency, “Every year the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people celebrate Akitu Day. Unfortunately, this year due to the corona pandemic that swept the world and which threatens all societies and countries, we decided to cancel celebrations.”

All organizations of the Beth Nahrin National Council in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and all the Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic Churches have taken measures to avoid the spread of the pandemic, as they banned, limited or cancelled all meetings, activities and church services. Church services are broadcast on church websites and on Facebook.

Akitu New Year is considered a symbol of renewal, fertility and nature and goes back to the ancient Chaldean-Assyrian-Babylonian spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia (it is no coincidence that Easter falls in the same period). Since many decades Syriac secular and cultural organizations and parties celebrate Akitu as a national holiday. In Eastern Syriac Akitu New Year is called “kha b-Nisan”. In Western Syriac Akitu New Year is called “kha b-Nison”.