On my recent trip to Kurdistan, Iraq with the amazing Mercury One we had a little down time to take in the first ever festival of colors in Sami Abdulrahman Park, Erbil, hosted by the Nishtiman Youth Network (NYN)

Color Fest was happening the day after we arrived in Iraq. This was the first large gathering of Kurdish young people (aged 13 to 30 and some “young at hearts” like us) celebrating ethnical, religious, and cultural diversity in the region. This festival took place a couple days before their Independence referendum vote.

Every Kurdish youth must have been there. It was a celebration of freedom and independence! With techno music blaring from the stage, they threw color powder in the air and at one another while a helicopter dropped rose petals from the sky. It was not too long ago that that ISIS controlled this region. It was incredible to experience and be part of this jubilation and celebration of normalcy and unity for all those that have weathered through turmoil and crisis.

According to Wikipedia, On 25 September 2017 Kurdistan held their referendum vote with preliminary results showing approximately 93 percent, cast in favor of Kurdistan independence. The referendum’s legality was rejected by the federal government of Iraq.