On Sunday, Syriac parties in northeastern Syria announced the cancellation of this year’s celebrations of Akitu 6770, the Assyrian Babylonian New Year, which occurs on April 1st of each year, in order to prevent gatherings to avoid the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Syriac parties and civic groups in the region traditionally celebrate the Akitu Festival, where people go out into the countryside and nature; according to ancient Assyrian mythology, the feast is a symbol of fertility and renewal.
The official of the Assyrian Democratic Organization affiliated with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNC), Daoud Daoud, told North-Press: "Every year the Syriac, Chaldean, and Assyrian people celebrate Akitu, but this year due to the coronavirus epidemic that has spread across the world and threatened all societies and countries, we decided to cancel the celebrations."
Sanharib Barsoum, the co-chair of the Autonomous Administration-allied Syriac Union Party, confirmed to North-Press that the party cancelled the celebrations of Akitu this year in order to avoid the gatherings that contribute to spreading the virus.
He said that these precautionary measures come within the instructions of the Autonomous Administration in North and East of Syria, as is the case with the rest of the Syrian regions in order to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
The Syriac Orthodox Church has taken several measures to avoid the spread of the epidemic, including completely cancelling related meetings and activities. The church celebrated the Annunciation in the presence of the priest and a limited number of deacons only, without the presence of believers, and the ritual rites were broadcast on social media to prevent gatherings.