Who are the Ezidis ?
Ezidis are one of the most ancient ethnic and religious minorities still existing today, as the first traces of their existence date back to the Sumerian era in Mesopotamia. Nowadays, Ezidis mainly live in Sinjar, a region of Iraq. However, smaller communities are present all over the world as a result of discrimination throughout history.
Origin of the name
The word Ezidi was found on a clay figure dating back to Sumerian and Babylonian eras and is derived from Khuday Ez Dam, meaning I was created by God. Even though we are called Yazidis (English) and Yezidis (French), the original and correct version is Ezidis, as said in Ezidi language and as witnessed by ancient and millenary artifacts.
Culture and Religion
Ezidi religion is one of the oldest monotheistic religions and it is considered to be pre-Abrahamic. In Lalish - a small mountain village in Northern Iraq - there is the holiest temple of Ezidi faith. The temple belongs to ancient times and many archaeologists and historians agree that it was part of Sumerian and other ancient Mesopotamian civilizations.
As one of the most ancient ethnic and religious groups, Ezidis have developed a strong sense of identity defined by millenary traditions. One of its traditions is Serê Sal, the Ezidi New Year, which falls in spring, on the first Wednesday of April (Assyrian calendar). During the Serê Sal, there is some lamentation by women in the cemeteries, to the accompaniment of the music of the Qewals. But, in general, the Serê Sal is characterized by joyous events: the music of def (drum) and shebab (shawm), communal dancing, meals and the decorating of eggs.
One of the most important traditions in the community is the Cejna Cemaiya, or Feast of the Assembly, that is the annual seven-day pilgrimage to the holy temple of Lalish. Ezidis also fast during the three shortest days of the year, worshipping God to give them longer days.