Navruz in Uzbekistan: Feast of the Renewal of Nature
Ask any Uzbek people, whether old or young, about the dearest and most favorite holiday. And as often as not you will get the answer “Navruz”. What kind of holiday is it? And why it is so favorite by everyone, either residents or guests of the country.
First of all, it must be for its wisdom that has come to our days from the depth of the centuries. Because history of Navruz holiday goes deep into the ancient history of humanity, to the times when the farming and cults related to it appeared.
The birthplace of Navruz is Khorasan (north-east of Iran) and it is more than 3000 years, with the time it has spread to the neighboring states of the West Asia and Central Asia. And the holiday did not appear just because, but exclusively according to the rules of nature.
On this very day, 21 March, when daytime and night are equal, a new solar cycle begins as well as a new astronomical year; thus, consequently the law of renewal enters its strength. That is why Navruz for Turkic and Iranian people is the same as the New Year for western part of the world. Later, during the Akhemenids (6-4th centuries B.C.), Navruz received an official status shifting from a farming ritual to a Zoroastrian holiday and was tied to a cult of Sun and Zaratustra. Today Navruz holiday is a national event and one of the main Uzbek traditions, and it is full of ancient unique rituals and beautiful customs like in ancient times.
The main mystery happens on the night of March 21. It is time for preparation of the main ceremonial meal from germinated wheat: sumalak. The whole mahalla, mostly women, gather near the huge pot: sit in a circle, sing songs, have fun, each of them waits for their turn to stir the sumalak. In the morning still warm sumalak is handed out to neighbors, relatives and friends. Tasting the sumalak it is necessary to make a wish, which, the locals say, will come true.
Navruz generally is very tightly connected with new hopes and expectations. Therefore, on this day it is used to forgive even the worst enemies, not to quarrel, to help weak and poor people. People believe that all of this will lure the success in your house.
Another good sign of the holiday is to entertain. Hostesses fry special patties with greenery, cook nishalda, a sweet dessert made of egg whites, whipped with sugar and scented roots of herbs, bake puff samsa, the fragrant pilaf is steamed in pots... So on March 21 the table is plentifully served with delicious meals. Abundance is also a good sign. In each house guests are awaited today: people accept guests and pay visits. It is hard to stay at home on Navruz holiday! Folk festivals in the villages are especially interesting where traditional sport competition kupkari, wrestling of dzhigits, equestrian competitions are arranged, as well as folk fairs, where you can buy everything from souvenirs to national baked foods.