Somonak - Afghanistan Womens Party

Recently, I asked my good friend, Zarmina, to tell me all about the special Afghanistan womens party she held last New Year at her home.

She didn't invite me, even though I have visited her home in the past(dressed completely native), because these days, it is not safe in certain areas of Kabul. If Zarmina's neighbors knew she worked for foreigners, she'd be in danger.

She graciously spoke Dari slowly so I could translate and type at the same time!

Somonak – Party for Afghan Women in the New Year

In the month of Amal in Spring, the first month, from New Year to the 15th day, women cook for this party. Twenty days before the party, we wash the wheat, and with fabric close it up.

Three days later, we open it, and put it on a tray. For 15 days, we water it every day and place it under the sun for 10 minutes each day.

On the day of the party when all the women gather, and the wheat has become green and growing, and with a machine like a grinder, we grind up the wheat and put it in a bowl with water and wash it well 7 times. We don’t throw the water away, although we do skim out the chaff.

After that, we might put 1 ser (7 kilos) of nan flour into the water, and it is now ready. We put a large pot on the fire and cook it from 10am when we light the fire and cook until midnight (approximately 14 hours). If the water gets low we add more boiling water. Someone is always stirring the pot.

When the women guests have arrived, together we cook rice, ground beef, spinach, salad (radishes, tomato, carrots, cabbage, onions, mint, cilantro, lemon, cucumbers), fruit, firni (pudding).

The party is for 15 women or 40, all friends and family. Laughing, dancing, (not applying henna), new clothes, makeup, the whole night dancing, and eating!

When the night is warm and the eating is done, we dance with music, timbral and singing. At this time, 5-6 women will go near the pot with the timbral, and while one woman stirs the Somonak pot, we sing this special song:


Somonak dar josh ma kaptcha zanem (As the food cooks the women stir)

Digaron dar khwab (sleeping) ma kaptcha zanem (All the women are only sleeping)

Somonak melee behar as (The Somonak party is only for the Spring)

Culle-e zan gerdish quatar as (All the women are close around)

Sal-e digar ya na-sip (Next year who knows if we will do this or not?)


The singing is beautiful and it is always a special time for Afghan women, my friend says.

Where are the men of the family during this time?

All the men and boys (brothers and husband) sit in one room and do not come out. They do not have permission to come near the pot. If a woman is pregnant, she must hostess the party because it is the tradition of Afghans.

What about the wheat in the Somonak pot, I ask? We drink the wheat drink out of a glass or bowl with a spoon. The wheat mixture is like yogurt, and when it becomes like this we turn off the heat. We usually do not go to sleep until 3 in the morning!

Maybe next year, my friend will be able to feel safe enough to invite me - what a privilege that would be.

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