Khidir Nebi and Khidir Ilyas: A Celebration for Love and Happiness

By @kurdistanipeople

Edited by Brendan S.


With a history that dates back to pre-islamic ancient times, “Cejna Xidir nebî Xidir îliyas” is a festival of love and fulfillment of desires. Khidir Nebi is considered the patron of lovers, reuniting loving hearts and fulfilling their cherished desires. Through him and with his assistance, the divine command and people’s destiny are revealed. According to the legend, if on this day the youth turn to Khidir Nabi with a prayer and eat a flat and salty “Totika Şor” for the night, they can see their betrothed in a dream. Khidir Ilyas is considered to be a protector of patients, travelers and innocent prisoners. The holiday is celebrated on the first or third Friday of February.

Khidir Ilyas is celebrated by Yarsanis (Kakayis), Alevis, even Muslim Kurds, Arabs, Turks and Azeris in West Asia.


In Ezidism, Khidir Nebi and Khidir Ilyas are two saints that ride a white horse (Xidir Nebî û Xidir Eylas siyarê hespêd boz). The former is the performer of desires and the patron of lovers, and the latter is the patron of those who travel by sea. Sometimes they appear as two brothers, other times as a father and son. However, some believe them to be one person. They are mentioned in the Ezidi kawlah, in the legends "Alexander the Great (Iskander)", "Ashiq Kharib and Shah Sanam" and "Darvesh Adam", and others.

Ezidis celebrating Khidir Ilyas holy day.

Ezidis fast for 3 days before this holiday. Before the sun rises in the early morning hours of fasting, children and elderly people get up for sahur. After the sahur meal, 3-day fast begins. In Ezidism, this fast is considered obligatory for every person, but it is more important for those whose name is Khidir or İlyas. Another segment where fasting is made more obligatory is young people who have not yet married. Because it is believed that there are those who need more of Khidir Nebi for them to achieve their will.


According to the belief, Khidir Nebi, who first rides his great white horse, descends to the earth on Thursday. The angel who can enter the houses through the doors and chimneys starts to wander around the houses. It is considered a sin to clean, wash the floor, bathe, use comb, soap and needles on this day. If the ground is washed with water, large amount of water will come in front of the angel's horse, if soap is used, large pieces of ice will be formed, if comb is used, large thorns will appear, and Khidir’s horse cannot wander the earth. He goes back, and then bad luck begins. It is also believed that not using the comb, soap and bath during the period of fasting cleans the soul, thought, soul and heart of the person before the celebration. Food is also taken out for the dead in these 3 days.


Young boys and girls eat a flat salty cake called "Totika Şor" without drinking water, then sleep. "Totika Şor" should be made by an unmarried girl. It is believed that the person who comes to the dreams of the youth who eat the Totika Şor and gives them water will be the person they marry. There’s also another sweet called “ Poxîn “ that is served on the celebration day.

Poxîn (top) and Totika Şor (bottom).

Khidir Nebi and Khidir İlyas celebration is considered to be one of the greatest holidays of Ezidis. Before the feast, Ezidis clean their houses. On the day of Arafa (last day of fasting), Ezidis go to temples called Stêr and break their fast there. After the fast-breaking dinner, the religion, customs and traditions are discussed, and a joint decision is made about how to celebrate the next day's holiday. The families who have lost their loved ones are visited. With prayers read for the lost ones, the family starts to celebrate happiness by ending the mourning. Those who are offended and don’t speak to one other make peace for the sake of this holy day.

Ezidis celebrating Khidir Ilyas holy day in Lalish.