Ten Kazakh Traditions That Stun The World
In Kazakhstan unlike other countries of the modern world where traditions are in the past, here the centuries long lifestyle help solve many difficult problems in a sensible way, that would seem to the Western world as most complicated – starting from marriage and communicating with relatives up to the relation with nature and life.
Respect to Nature
- To appeal to universe and ask for some rain in drought, people before would collect money for an animal to sacrifice, flour and other foods from the whole settlement. The offering ceremony was done in an open space near the water.
- Kazakhs would never allow beating or harming a horse, a sheep, or camel, instead creating for them comfortable conditions, caring and providing them with items against evil eye.
- Put out fire with water, or spit into it or stepping over were considered as blasphemy. With the help of fire, mothers of sons were blessing the brides (they were warming the palms of hands and would touch bride’s cheeks, which meant they were dispelling unsettling thoughts and bad spirits).
Unique Attitude to Children and the Elderly People
- The place at the table where the old people sit or places in yurts where they sleep always remain unoccupied. One can’t take it up while young.
- There was always a tendency to give children loud and bright names. It was considered that a serious approach to naming a child would help him in his life. For instance, naming a son as ‘Kuanish’ (Joy) would assure parents that a child will be happy.
- A little 10-year old boy was trusted to look after lambs. Here comes a Kazakh saying ‘lamb’s age’. In the age of 13, more serious work was given – to shepherd the sheep (‘sheep’s age’). Further, ‘horse age’ – between 13 – 20. And ‘king’s age’ will reach a Kazakh man in his 40’s. In this age, a man can aspire to ruling the country. A strict hierarchy was bringing up tolerance, self-control and respect to elder ‘workers’ in people.
One Should Fight for a Happy Marriage
- After groom’s parents found a bride for their son, previously gathering all necessary background information of the girl, her genealogy and her reputation, then they needed to pay ‘kalim’ to side of the bride. In poor families ‘kalim’ would make up no more than 5-6 heads of cattle, and among the rich the number could get up to 1000 horses.
- If a young man did not have enough means to pay for the bride or parents were against, then he went for a desperate step – kidnapping. Today this custom has almost disappeared.
Respect to Guests
- Most precious guests could be gifted a horse, camel, carpet, cold steel, coat or hand-made dressing gown. For guests of the elderly age, special meal would be prepared, showing endless respect. Guests were divided into three types: specially invited, casual and unexpected ones. Guests could be asked to sing a song, or recite a poem and as a rule, no one refused, as it was an expression of respect towards the host. New neighbours were invited to the house in order to get to know them better and always there was an attempt to help – with food or household things when needed.
- Guests were offered ‘white treats’ as Kazakhs would call them. This was milk, kumis (fermented horse’s milk) or ayran. It was called ‘white’ as it was the color of honesty and devotion.