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Mongolian culture

 

Nauryz, the Kazakh New Year Festival

Nauryz, the Kazakh New Year Festival

By tradition, the Kazakh New Year Festival Nauryz is held on the 22 of March every' year. This is the time of the equinox, when there is plenty of food and the hibernating animals wake up. Nauryz or the 'Sun-Festival' is not known in all Islamic countries, but most Muslims living in Central Asia celebrate it. On Nauryz Day, Kazakhs offer their guests 'kozc', a soup with curds and rice. Moreover, they arrange a festive table with 'kaz', a dish of boiled horsemeat, and dairy products. It is customary- to eat the koze, or rice soup, without the help of spoons or chopsticks. This is a symbol of prosperity. The koze is a food of honor like the buuz or the boiled sheep's rump during Mongolian Tsagaan Sar.

On the morning of the holiday, a ceremony is held to greet the sun. The women move stones to "open the eyes' of the springs, and the men plant trees. These are symbolic actions to appease nature and to usher in the warm season. Nauryz is unthinkable without the 'distribution of blessings' by the grandmothers. The old women throw about five kinds of delicious cakes and sweets as an offering to Heaven, and the children pick them up saying. "The blessings of the festival have come.

 

" On this auspicious day, one meets face to face with people with whom one has been having strained relations in order to say that one bears them no more grudge, laying the foundations for future friendship. People greet each other amicably by stretching out their arms, putting their palms on each others', and pushing each others' shoulders back and forth. Husband and wife, however, do not greet each other in this fashion. At Nauryz, the Kazakhs sing joyfully to the tunes of their melodious dombras until they forget all sadness, and they dance gracefully like the flow of running water. There is also a national game called 'Fight for the Blue Goat'.

 

This is a contest in manly strength and courage, where the men fight from on horseback for a leather bag made of bluish-grey goatskin. Kazakh style wrestling and hunting with trained eagles are two other attractions of Nauryz. It is highly auspicious for weddings or the ceremonial washings of newly born babies to coincide with the time of the Nauryz festival. In Bayan-Ulgii Aimag, where the Kazakh minority of Mongolia lives, in the town of Ulgii, a Kazakh beauty contest is organized every year at Nauryz. This new tradition has become quite popular lately.

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