Yazidi Celebrate the Belende Feast
The Yazidi religion is consider one of the most ancient in the Middle East. The Yazidi have been farmers and stock raisers since ancient times, which is why most Yazidi feast relate to natural phenomena.
The Belende feast is a celebration which takes place on the first Friday of winter every year. Every family cooks a special kind of food and distributes it to their neighbors. Then, on the second Friday, every Yazidi celebrates the feast and bakes a special kind of bread called sewk, a kind of small round loaf which tastes delicious and is distributed to relatives and neighbors. On the following Wednesday, every family brings a plant called reshk. Sweets, candies and figs are prepared for the Belende Feast. While she waits for the menfolk to return from the fields, the housewife stands the reshk at the entrance to their home to greet them.
When livestock were still used for ploughing, the animals would be made to jump over the fire, but nowadays modern agricultural machinery is used, so the housewife sets fire to the plant and distributes the candies to the assembled people and neighbours to the sound of acclamation as the women and children jump over the fire three times in joy and jubilation over the feast.
Loqman Suleiman, a Yazidi media activist, says the purpose behind the fire and the passing of the oxen over it is that the ox is a symbol of fertility while the fire is the symbol of the sun and warmth. The ox thus represents the seeds, which are in need of the sun’s warmth to grow in fields and survive the frost.
Every family keeps some of the ash from the fire, which the farmer sows on his farmland to bless it.
After celebrating the Belende Feast, every family prepares a loaf of thick bread (called khewler in Kurdish) and puts one raisin inside the loaf. Then the head of the family starts to split the bread into smaller pieces which are distributed to every member of the family. The one who finds the raisin inside his khewler will be the lucky one within the family for the whole year.
A women distributes sweets, candies and oranges during the Belende Feast.