The Yezidis are the Kurdish minorities from countries like Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The staggering genocide of the Yezidis was a recent topic of hot debate. With the culture in the limelight with news and religion in Iraq, not many are aware that the Yezidi culture bears striking similarities with the Hindu culture.
It is said that the two cultures are intertwined in their paths since ancient times. It is known that in the ancient era the Yezidis were nomadic and had migrated southwards to India. They stayed in this region for around two thousand years. During this semi-nomadic time, there was a massive cultural influx. Some of them continued to inhabit the subcontinent for the years to come. They would end up living in this region for more than four thousand years. During this period, they imbibed the Hindu culture in their own. It is said that this could be the primary reason why the two cultures display a sense of oneness in their ways.
The similarities between the Yezidis and the Hindus include:
- The first visible cultural difference can be seen in the form of the temple shrines or Lalish of the Yezidis. The Lalish is known to be one of the most sacred shrines of the Yezidis. It has hints of the Hindu culture as wall murals and art associated with Hindu depictions. The clothes and ways bear a lot of resemblance to the traditional Hindu methods. Even the religious ways of Arti and worship is found to be seen in the Yezidi rituals.
- The Arti lamps used in the Hindu culture for worship are very similar to oil lamps called Sanjakas that the Yezidis use. There is a myth which is associated with these Sanjakas. There are two Sanjakas that came into existence inspired by the several hundreds of Arti diyas or lamps. The myth goes that the Yezidi deity originally gave seven Sanjakas for the seven great angels known in their religion. Five of these were eventually misplaced and only two are remaining in their keep. These are extremely sacred to the Yezidis. Thus, the concept of using fire in the form of Arti seems to be similar in the two cultures.
- The Hindu peacock god, Kartikey, is known to be the heir of Shiva. The prime Yezidi deity is Tawsi Melek. He is known to be the peacock king or peacock angel. It is interesting to note that both deities are known to have a very similar nature. According to legend, both Kartikey and Tawsi Melek, have been known to be mischievous. They both brought the ideas of peace and humanity to the beings as a word of god. Thus, the association with the peacock is seen to be a major similarity.
- Other than these mythological similarities, there are several things of the day to day life that can be seen to be alike in the two sects. One of them being, the anointing in the region of the third eye. It is called the ‘tika’ in the Hindu culture, where people anoint themselves in the middle of the forehead as a holy symbol. The Yezidis are also known to do the same by anointing their people in between the eyebrows for sacred purposes. The anointing in the temples, thus, brings the two cultures very close together in terms of rituals.
- It has been historically observed that there are very significant similarities between the prime gods in both religions. In Hindu culture, it is popularly known that Shiva creates his son Kartikeya with the power of his energy. The Yezidi deity Tawsi Melek is also created by his father, a supreme god from a source of light. The two legends go hand in hand with the association with the peacocks reaffirming their sense of being alike. Thus, the primary gods of creation in both the cultures exhume a similar aura with similar legends of how they came into existence.
- Hindus believe in the concept of ‘punar janm’ or rebirths and reincarnations. The concept of transmigration is also seen in the Yezidi beliefs. This idea of life after and beyond death is another similarity between the two. Hence, the notions of reincarnations and transmigration also bring the two cultures on the same page.
Thus, contrary to popular belief, the Yezidi culture is extremely similar to the Hindu culture. It bears more resemblance with the Hindu ideas than it does with any of the religions in their surrounding areas. It is interesting to understand how two cultures established in geographically diverse regions can have significant common roots that bring them so close together.