Yalda Night, an ancient ritual of Aryan culture, was celebrated this year in various parts of Afghanistan, Iran, and several other countries. In Afghanistan, people observed this longest night of the year covertly, particularly women and men protesting against the Taliban’s policies.
Women participating in the protest mentioned that by celebrating Yalda Night, they aim to preserve Afghanistan’s ancient culture and stand against the Taliban’s restrictions. The celebration involved setting up tables with various fruits like pomegranates and watermelons, and cultural activities including singing and poetry readings.
Mehdi, a Kabul resident, stated, “The Taliban are clearly hostile to our religion and culture. By celebrating Yalda Night, we demonstrate our resilience and ongoing resistance.”
However, for Afghan schoolgirls, this night held a different significance as they pondered returning to their schools. Sahra, who recently moved to the Andar district of Ghazni, commented, “There was no celebration of Yalda Night in our house. I dream of a life free from the Taliban’s restrictions.”
Ferishta, from Kabul, added, “Tonight is Yalda. We gathered to show the Taliban that our spirit is unbreakable, and our struggle continues.”
Many protesting women marked the occasion by lighting candles and reciting Hafez’s poetry. “I hope the restrictions on women end after this night,” expressed Maryam from Kabul.
Yalda Night, recognized by UNESCO as a shared cultural heritage of Afghanistan and Iran, symbolizes cultural identity, respect for women, and hospitality. It is also celebrated in other countries like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.