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Capture the golden times of Kyrgyzstan; experience the colors of the rich and sensational traditional festivals of this country to have the experience of the lifetime.
NO'ORUZ or Nowruz – The Persian New Year
The first day of the season of spring marks the starting of No'oruz - the Persian New Year. The celebration of this day lasts for around 2 weeks and is Zorastrianism's 3,000 years old tradition. This is festival has been regarded highly by the Ancient Muslims of the East and the tradition is still a part of Kyrgyzstan's culture.
History tells us that during Nowruz, Muslims withheld quarreling and sought forgiveness, honesty and general goodwill in the society. The Kyrgyz, especially, set fir tree branches on fire (which they usually call 'Archa') and spread its smoke around their homes as they believed that it would put a halt to potential misfortune and catastrophes. They would also wear soft colors like blue and white.
Nowadays, during Nowruz, usually a special dish called 'Sumulook' is cooked, which appears like porridge made from millet and barley; Gifts are shared between folks, relatives, neighbors. Wealthy families also gives out charity to the poor in the society. As this day is of vernal equinox – the day usually symbolized by the sun and its significance, the traditional villagers light up fire and jump over it to gain purification of heart, mind and soul. Congregational prayers also also held for future good luck, harmony and protection from famines and other disasters as per the convention.
Orozo – The fasting regime
Orozo is basically an extended period of fasting which all the Muslims go through during the month of Ramadan of the Muslim calender. As per the law of the holy book Qur’an, it is obligatory on every single Muslim of age 12 years and above to fast in Ramadan. During this month the Kyrgyz eat nothing from sunrise till the sunset. This month is very well celebrated as it is considered as Almighty Allah's gift to human beings, in which they can learn to become steadfast, strong and earn God's blessings and mercy. Everybody strives to become a better and a helpful human being by contributing to the goodwill of the community. The fast is opened everyday at the sunset, usually in congregation, with a very special feast consisting of several traditional meals and drinks. A special prayer called 'Taraweeh' is also held every day at night.
During Ramadan, Kyrgyzstan along with several other Muslim countries transforms into an actual holy place! People give up stealing, backbiting, swearing and try at their utmost to make the society benefit from them, so that they become eligible to gain Allah's appreciation and rewards. A special charity called “Bittir” is also given to the destitute in the society.
The Kyrgyz believe that this month teaches them control on desire and the right conduct to maintain throughout the year.
Orozo Ait – The festival of Eid
Orozo Ait is the most popular festival celebrated by the entire Muslim community of the world. Also called “Eid”, this festival is celebrated as the ending of 'Orozo of Ramadan'.
This day begins with a huge congregational prayer including all the men in the society to gather at a certain Eid-Gah (place of prayer) at a particular time. This phenomenal congregation consist hundreds, thousands and even millions of people gathered together in a particular place to pray. Women pray at home. Everyone wears newly made clothes, usually bright colored and fancy, and go out to meet relatives, neighbors and all the people with whom meetings during the year were not possible. Children and even elders sing tunes regarding well wishes all the day – "Jaramazan". People, upon opening their doors to listen to the tunes, should treat with especially cooked sweets or give cash.
This is the festival of Sacrifices. It is widely celebrated in the month of Zilhajj of the Muslim calender marking the end of journey of Prophet Muhammed (peace is upon him) in Mecca. Kurman Ait comes about 70 days after Orozo Ait.
It is basically celebrated in the memory of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail. The history of this event is told in the holy book of Quran; Prophet Ibrahim was asked to slaughter his son as a test from Allah. He closed his eyes and readily ran a knife on Ismail's throat but when he opened them, he found a sheep in the place of his son who was replaced by Allah. Hence, all the Muslims of the world, along with the Kyrgyz sacrifice sheeps, goats, cows and a few more four-footed animals on the day when the Hajj – the famous pilgrimage of the Muslims end at Mecca.
The meat of the sacrifice is distributed amongst poor and neighbors and new clothes are worn to celebrate the day. People also make special foods for the guests and get-together is held. Sermons and prayers and also conducted in the morning of this day.
Besheek Toi ( The Cradle Feast )
This is a feast day celebrated within a week of child's birth rejoicing his/her first day in the beshik (cradle). The 'beshik' is cradle made up of wood, used to swathe a baby unless he/she begins to walk. In the past, Kyrgyz designed very simple beshiks from their handwork, according to their nomadic lifestyle.
Two curves are made using dry and thick willow and then holes are made in the bottom. Bamboos are finxed in these holes, and a rope is tied to fasten the bamboo sticks. Inside the cradle, a pad is fixed for a baby to sit on.
Uilonoo Toi ( The Wedding Feast )
This is a prolonged feast associated with the wedding traditions of the Kyrgyz. Right before marriage, bride and groom's family starts preparing clothes and other fancy articles for the big day. The girl's mom and friends camp an exquisite white yurt for the wedding and prepare a big feast. Later, the groom comes with his family and friends to take the bride with him.
Traditional sad songs called koshok are sung by the bride's family and friends as she bids them bye and leaves. The groom's folks come with the bride to the groom's home and the marriage celebration begins.