Jeshn (Afghan Independence Day)

August 19
Jeshn is a celebration of Afghanistan's independence from British control that has been observed throughout the country but with special ceremonies in Kabul. The Treaty of Rawalpindi, signed on August 8, 1919, gave Afghanistan the right to conduct its own foreign affairs. It was the formal conclusion of the brief Third Anglo-Afghan War, which actually ended in May 1919, but August is a slack agricultural period in Afghanistan and therefore a time when more people can celebrate a holiday.
The holiday has been observed with parades, dancing, games, music, and speeches by government figures.
Often the period of Jeshn has been used for major policy announcements. In 1959, one of the more significant events of modern Afghanistan occurred during Jeshn. Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud and other ministers and cabinet and royal family members appeared on the reviewing stand with their wives and daughters exposing their faces. This was a highly dramatic event; until then, women in public always wore the burka (an ankle-length tent-like gown and veil that totally covers the head and face, with only a mesh slit to see through). This marked the beginning of abolishing the required burka, and for years afterward most urban upper-class women went about without a veil.
This all changed in 1996 when the fundamentalist Islamic movement, Taliban, took over most of the country and required women to again wear the burka and severely restricted their movements outside the home, forcing most urban westernized Afghan women to give up their careers and education. The Taliban controlled Afghanistan until 2001, when United States and allied forces ousted the Taliban as part of the war against terrorism.
Despite the unsettled conditions in Afghanistan, Independence Day has continued to be observed.
Embassy of Afghanistan
2341 Wyoming Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-483-6410; fax: 202-483-6488
AnnivHol-2000, p. 138
NatlHolWrld-1968, p. 71
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.