The Gathering Feast: rituals cancelled at the Lalesh temple
According to Yazidi mythology, the gathering feast, the most important and sacred in the Yazidi calendar, in the feast at which sins are forgotten. The holiday, which takes place on 6-13 October every year, is a series of religious ceremonies which lasts for seven days. Yazidis from all over the world, and Turkey and Syria in particular, visit the temple to celebrate the feast in a spirit of brotherhood. All pilgrims must be barefoot and purified when they come to the Lalesh temple to celebrate the feast. Unfortunately, the religious ceremonies have been canceled this year by the Yazidi spiritual council of and its head, Meer Tahseen Bak, to preserve the safety and security of the Yazidi community in the wake of the explosions that shook the capital city of Kurdistan's Regional Government (KRG), Erbil, which left six people dead and another 84 injured. Although a lot of people had already arrived at the Lalesh temple, the rituals were still canceled.
In previous years, visitors came to Lalesh to celebrate the feast and practice their rituals. The temple was full of people and media from the Kurdistan region and beyond, who came to observe the rituals and traditions. Every night, Qawals (religious men) would take candles and light lamps to illuminate the temple. Amory Dnany, a pilgrim, said: “I am very sad that we cannot celebrate our feast this year in Lalesh temple. In previous years, we came to Lalesh and celebrated our feast amidst many people in a spirit of brotherhood. If there were adequate security, the rituals could be performed and we could practice our religion in a better way.” Dlshad Jundi, another young Yazidi, expressed his sadness at not practicing the rituals this year: “I am sad because I was to see my family at Lalesh temple. They said they were coming from Germany so we could celebrate the feast all together, but I won’t be seeing them this year because the rituals have been cancelled. I shall take this opportunity to congratulate everyone and ask God to keep us in peace. May God keep Kurdistan and protect us all from bad things.” Majid Isa, a 26 year-old pilgrim, said: “We don't want our region to be like others in the south of Iraq. We want to practice our rituals among other religions and to coexist alongside them.”
A number of female children and elderly woman stands together in front of Lalish Temple, which is the major religious place for Yezidi’s across the world.