Newroz: A resistance ritual
Ritual is the one of the basic practices of humankind. That’s why it is possible to witness rituals in every society both in our era and ancient times. While rituals can be seen in many periods and places, ritual as field of study is recent phenomenon. Analysis of a ritual with its symbolic pattern is central for most of ritual studies. For this reason, in many ritual studies, it is very important to focus on the symbols and images to understand the meaning of a ritual in its cultural context. However material component of a ritual is treated as secondary elements in many studies. Although it seems very reasonable to claim that this mainstream approach against material components is necessary for reading a ritual in its habitat, it must not be disregard the possibility of the fact that material components of ritual can be more important than its other elements.
Is it possible to interpret a ritual by the help of material components? In other words is it possible to read material elements of ritual as substantial component while estimating its symbolic patterns as secondary ones. In this way, I think, it may be possible to see different interpretation strategies and, then question place and significance of material components in ritual studies.
In this context it is worthy to mention the material components of ritual by focusing on Newroz Celebrations that have been celebrated by Kurds in Turkey from the beginings of 1980’s until today. Newroz is a new year fest, celebrated in March in some part of Asia and Middle East. Although celebrations in the Middle East have its roots in Ancient Mesopotamia, their modern versions are very different from traditional celebrations. Newroz celebrations, began to be celebrated a kind of resistance ritual in Turkey by 1970’s, can not be understood without the transformation of the material world and the socioeconomic transformation of Turkey in this period. Celebrations banned by the state became increasingly widespread in 1980’s and 1990’s and transformed into a festival by the first decade of 2000’s. The underlying condition of this transformation is the transformation in the material world. That’s why analysis must mostly depends on tools, clothes, instruments, vehicles, media devices etc. used in celebrations in trying to interpret their characteristics. For the last 30 years the transformation of material components of Newroz Celebrations has been easily noticed. I think to see their significance and meaning as a resistance against the state can provide us with a different angle for consider the relationships between ritual, power and resistance. While the ritual process support a kind of resistance culture against the actual political power patterns, on the other hand the same process seem as conclusion of integration with material ground of the world-system that has very different implicaitons about institutioanalisation of political power.