A conversation with Afghan American author, Community Activist, and Father - Atta Arghandiwal
To honor the Afghan New Year, and more importantly, to encourage the younger generation to respect and remember our traditions, our family holds a special gathering at Nowroz.
The Arghandiwal family, in Northern California, throws a huge party with special food and Nowroz drink Haft mewa, while cooking Samanak*. Our entire family, boys, girls, old and young participate in the process of preparing Samank from growing the wheat to following the traditional cooking process while listening to music, dancing and telling stories.
We gather on the eve of Nowroz to start that Samank preparation, sometimes the cooking goes into the next day. To make the celebration even more authentic, all family members wear traditional Afghan outfits. The adults make a special effort to make every Nowroz celebration memorable for our children in hope that they will retain our traditions in our home away from home.
A special sweet made from wheat germ which requires several weeks of preparation. The custom is for women to gather, essentially a “girls’ night in” and prepare the dish from late in the evening until daylight, singing special songs. I was in Afghanistan the Spring of 2006. My cousin invited me to attend her Samanak party. At that time I didn’t have much interest in Afghan food so I declined. Instead I stayed in my guest house with my beer drinking, whiskey jugging travel mates. You can imagine how sorry I am for missing this wonderful opportunity.
Afghans singer Belqiz Younusi singing a beautiful song about Samanak.