New Year's day in Mazar-e-Sharif

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, March 21, 2010 (Xinhua): The Blue Mosque in the northern city of Mazar Sunday was the scene of the largest gathering to celebrate Nawruz or New Year and to pray for lasting peace.

Accompanying the prayer leader of the historic mosque, thousands of people gathered in the mosque's compound.

"Let's pray for peace, work for peace, have durable peace and make success in achieving viable peace in our country," the prayer leader of the Blue Mosque said loudly and thousands of people echoed him.

Inaugurating the Nawruz festival by raising a flag over the Blue Mosque believed to contain the tomb of fourth Islam Caliph Hazrat Ali, Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim prayed for durable peace, wishing the year 1389 would be a year of peace and stability.

Going to enjoy egg fighting in a park, Wali, a student at Kabul University, observed that Nawruz means new day, new life and happiness which brings peace of mind and eventually enables you to study hard and make progress.

According to officials, more than 350, 000 people from across the country traveled to Mazar to take part in Nawruz festival celebration and pray for peace.

Nawruz is public holiday in Afghanistan when public and private radio and TV channels broadcast special programs, and people play the national game - Buzkashi, wrestling, egg fighting and kite flying.

People from all walks of life also enjoyed Nawruz festival by planting saplings; President Hamid karzai also planted a sapling.