Written by Gwenda Meredith, volunteer at Global Link and is inspired by the Claver Hill Community Farm off Ridge Lane in Lancaster.

Sunday March 20th was a very special day at Claver Hill Farm, Lancaster.  Two years ago, the gorgeous colourful banner was made by artist Victoria Frausin of the Sewing Circle to celebrate NOWRUZ; New Year for Persians, Afghans and Kurds. But for two years it was not possible to celebrate because of lockdowns.

This year, at last, the lovely open area of Claver Hill Farm where some of the Global Link community grow vegetables was made into a space for communal celebration of this ancient Festival with food and music and later traditional Kurdish dance around a carefully tended bonfire.

Our new neighbours in and around Lancaster in their home countries were professionals and various skilled and resourceful men and women who came here to seek asylum because of persecution or war.  As a volunteer, I have supported and taught some for over four years and am inspired by the manners and quiet mental strength of both adults and children and am deeply enriched personally from knowing them.

Nowruz was an opportunity to let the cookery talents of this group to shine. One beautiful young woman was dressed in a traditional Kurdish dress and managing to balance a tureen of her cooked food underneath the pram of her adorable baby.   Another, amongst many beautiful dishes was KASHK BADEMJAN. The ingredients include aubergines, mint, walnuts, saffron, white cheese, pepper.  Arranged artistically in areas of warm colours bordered by diagonals of white cheese and saffron to make a heavenly mix of taste sensations. There was homemade flat bread, dips and salads- and there were desserts of delicious fruits and almond honey Paklava.

Orange water and pomegranate juice was drunk in this lovely atmosphere. The warmth of the sun disappeared as early evening crept on but the simple circular seating around the bonfire welcomed everyone.

And the joyful rhythmic music started and Kurdish dancing began –men started linking arms as more men and a few women joined in around the flickering bonfire.

It was a wonderful occasion of celebration of new hope and life of Spring. Nowruz.

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