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June 12, 2018

June 12, 2018

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What is Nauryz? Why Kazakhs need it?

One more official holyday just has completed – it is Nauryz. Noisy music quieted down, the crowd walked away, festive food was done. It is already 27 th Nauryz in my life. What is Nauryz? Where does it come from and why do we need it? I'll try to tell my version of the holiday's history.


My History of Nauryz

For many people, especially young people, Nauryz and its celebration is a usual thing, quite familiar. This holiday is celebrated every year, and it has become a part of our life. Everything is clear and simple. It is day of rest in the calendar. But it was not always so. For people of my generation and older there were times when t


his day and celebrations did not exist at all. It was a completely different country, different people and different life. No, of course, we heard about this day from fairy tales and legends, in the stories of ourgrandmothers. But it was something from the ethnography. People celebrated other holidays, which are no longer existed. No one was particularly interested in Nauryz holyday, people in this country were in a hurry to build communism. Nauryz first appeared in the days of Perestroika in the USSR. First Nauryz passed very modestly, very few people knew how to celebrate it. There was no enough information at that time, traditions and customs of this holiday were very difficult to remember. But then everything quicklymoved, this holiday has firmly entered into our life. Apparently generic and perhaps primeval memory played its role. And somehowon the background of a very rapidly changing life it became an ordinary holiday. Now we know more, it became an official holiday. And even international. Now it is celebrated everywhere and by everyone. But it's not so simple with it and its story, as it may seem at first glance. Even with the day in the calendar. Here our country has gone by its original way, and invented our own official day of celebration. All our neighbors meet and wait Nauryz on 21 of March. That is, the whole day on March 21. And the holyday itself comes in the night from 21 to 22 of March. Here in Kazakhstan we officially celebrate this day on March 22, when all our neighbors have already celebrated it. Here is the inexplicable logic of a state officials, or rather their bureaucratic part.


Real New Year or holiday that was stolen

I do not know how other nations, but Kazakhs call Nauryz as "Zhyl Basy" –“Beginning of the Year” and do very right. Our ancestors knew and understood at the genetic level what was beginning of the year. There is not that day in the winter in the darkest and shortest period of the year in December (incidentally that holiday, in my opinion, is associated with the winter solstice). But it is that day in the spring on the day of the vernal equinox. Nauryz and the day of the vernal equinox are the same phenomenon. These are the names of one thing. This holiday is not religious, not national and not some other. Rather it is natural, cosmic or universal. The vernal equinox day is a moment and maybe a point in our universe, when our planet occupies a certain place in it. Of course, for the planet, and for the galaxy this moment matters. But for infinity it is just a moment. May be the universe is composed of such moments. In my opinion, this day is a real New Year, which we all must meet together. Ancient Turks and Kazakhs nowadays call itUlystyn Uly Kuni – People’s Great Day. Such great name has not any other day in the year. Everyone knows that the Nature in the Earth during this period is awakened, and even a human at the biological level feels some changes, renewal. Kazakhs call it also “AzNauryz” – “Wise, Dear Nauryz”. May be this name came later in the medieval times, when Kazakhs began to form into nation. It is clear now that this day was the most important event of the year in the old days among nomadic Kazakhs and other Turkic nations. Therefore the whole ritual of its celebration was carefully thought out. Especially when celebration period was associated withgetting out of people and livestock from the winter stand and beginning of a large nomadic movement following the grass andwarm. And one more detail which is not well known. Kazakhs did not choose any specific day for the holiday. They celebrated it at convenient time during a month from end of March until end of April. Our ancestors were really children of Mother Nature, therefore they tried to be good children. They tried to understand, appreciate and protect their Mother. They correlated their liveswith Her. To our great regret we, their descendants, are too far from being the same. We lost all our relations with Nature; weturned out into ungrateful children, whom She patiently waits. And one more little detail, which is a great symbol of hope, that not everything is so bad. Kazakhs named as Nauryz whole calendar month of March in honor of the Great Day. That is really smart. In general, the names of the months of the year are very beautiful and poetic in Kazakh language, reflecting the essence of natural phenomena. For example, the month of April - Kokek in Kazakh, is translated as Cuckoo, and December Zheltoksan - Ninety Winds, July Shilde - Forty Days of Heat. And all year seasons have their semantic significance: Summer - Zhaz - straightening (smoothing),Winter - Qys - squeezing, jamming. And so every word in the Kazakh language has its logical meaning. Kazakh language is verybeautiful and eloquent, if it is properly used.


How we celebrate

I want to say a few words about how we celebrate Nauryz. If to say openly it's not very good. It is more about celebration in thecities, about formal city celebrations. And this is my subjective opinion, which I do not impose on anyone. This day is not worthy ofsuch bad attitude. In the city everything turnes into a formality and very often into raunch and vulgarity. People do not celebrate, people are waiting for the state machine to organize a holiday for them. And this machine does not care. Yes, there are rituals, there is a colorful picture, but there is not yet a spirit. People are coming for entertainment, not trying to go deep. People basically do not even try to comprehend the purpose of this holiday. They do not have time for this. As always. There are probably somewhere in small towns or villages, where people really make themselves a holiday. I like such a beautiful tradition, how to celebrate Nauryz with the neighbors living on your street. We managed to do this in Almaty and Shymkent. When people try to arrange a holiday for themselves, then the spirit turns out differently. Unfortunately, we did not have many ancient but not religious holidays celebrated by our distant ancestors. For example, one such lost Turkic summer holiday is Sabantoy - a holiday associated with haymaking. We Kazakhs lost it, but our brothers Tatar people in Russia celebrate it as a national one. This holiday was probably one for all of our common ancestors. It would be good to restore it and give it a new sound and meaning. And there were many such holidays. We now celebrate only political or religious holidays.

We just need to rethink it again and start with ourselves and holiday in the heart. We all need to return to our pure roots. Let everyone this truly light holiday brings only goodness and kindness. Nauryz qut bereke akelsyn!


Travel in Kazakhstan with English speaking guide - Dildabek Bekman 

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