Despite warnings from Taliban forces, Afghanistan celebrated Norooz and the New Year all across the country today, albeit under strict security.

Mazar Sharif , the capital city of Balkh Province, hosted one of the largest Norooz gatherings among the numerous countries that celebrate this ancient festival.

Afghanistan’s deputy president Karim Khalili was at Mazar Sharif, along with a number of national assembly and local representatives, to receive officials and diplomats from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Turkey.

Norooz, the celebration of New Year on the first day of spring, is celebrated across Afghanistan with a mixture of cultural and religious elements.

The celebration of Norooz was outlawed for at least five springs during the rule of Taliban in Afghanistan.