March 22 (BBC) – Millions of people around the world have celebrated Nowruz – a festival that marks the Persian New Year and the official beginning of spring.
Nowruz begins at the spring equinox, when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are equal length.
It is mainly celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan, the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Turkey as well as by Parsis in India and diaspora communities around the rest of the world.
This year – which in the Persian calendar is the year 1400 – celebrations in many places have had to take place amid coronavirus restrictions.
In this Covid-19 ward in Firoozabadi hospital, Tehran, healthcare workers celebrated with their patients by setting up a ceremonial table covered with symbolic food items.
In Tajrish Square, one of the busiest parts of Tehran, people bought food and other items from the market.
Traditionally in Iran, people decorate a Nowruz table with – among other things – goldfish, wheat grass, candles and mirrors.
In Turkey, thousands of Kurdish people celebrated in Istanbul with music and dancing.
India’s Parsi community marked the day by going to Zoroastrian fire temples. Here, a father takes his son to a temple in Mumbai’s Tardeo neighbourhood.
In Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, people had leech treatment. Every year on Nowruz, Kashmiri healers apply leeche which they say can suck impure blood out of people with health conditions.
And after sunset in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Akra, people carried fire torches and set off fireworks.