Ramadan Hayit: Holiday of Purification in Uzbekistan
Ramadan Hayit (Ruza Hayit, Eid al-Fitr)
Ramadan Hayit (Ruza Hayit, Eid al-Fitr) is a celebration of spiritual and moral purification. The holiday celebrates completion of Islamic month of fasting Ruza (Ramadan), which lasts 30 days and is considered as a rite of spiritual and moral purification. In the month of Ramadan while fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food and drinking liquids, they should avoid bad thoughts, treat others in respectful manner and do good. Fasting is obligatory for every Muslim, it helps to strengthen their faith and teaches self-discipline. Fasting is not allowed for small children, people who are suffering from illness or those who are travelling.
Ramadan Hayit, as in other countries, starts with a morning Hayit-namaz (prayer). After the prayer the Ramadan Hayit starts, which lasts for three days. Since 1992, the religious holiday of Ramadan Hayit in Uzbekistan has been declared as a public holiday and is widely celebrated in the country. Preparations for both Ramadan Hayit and Kurban Hayit (Eid al-Adha) begin the day before Hayit and this day is called “Arafa”. On the day of Arafa traditional pastry: “kush-tili”, “bugirsok” – fancy pastry balls, “orama”, “chak-chak” – straws and nuts in sugar and others are prepared by every Uzbek family.
In the evening every family cooks festive plov, which neighbors usually exchange with. Plov is served in kosa (big ceramic bowl) and decorated with baking on the top.
Although Ramadan Hayit is a holiday, there is a rule to visit the cemeteries of relatives these days. Therefore, a few days before the holiday "mazar"s (cemeteries) are tidied up. This was always supervised by mahalla’s (residential quarters) residents local gathering. Each mahalla has its own area in mazar.
Many local ancient traditions are intertwined with the religious ones; this becomes particularly prominent in the days of Ramadan Hayit and Kurban Hayit. Children enjoy the holidays most of all - there is a range of toys and sweets, which are produced and sold only in the days of Hayits: wooden and tin rattles, tin fifes and clay whistles, candy canes of various shapes and sweet big balls "bodirok" (popcorn) and variety of kazinaki (sunflower seeds, peanut and other varieties of seeds and nuts brittles).
Ramadan Hayit lasts for three days. At this time people visit their old relatives and neighbors. Houses with "kelin" (newly wedded wife) expect guests; ‘kelin’ meets the guests, doing "kelin-salom" (ritual easy half-bow). Her head and face are covered with a translucent bride veil. These days in Uzbek "mahalla” you can see flocks of kids, mostly little girls who go from house to house in a crowd, admiring well-dressed newly married wives and are treated with sweets.