Learn from the Locals: Navruz in Uzbekistan
Born and raised in Samarkand, Abdu Samadov is full of inside information about Uzbekistan. He has studied in England and the U.S. and is fluent in English, Farsi and Russian. Abdu guides MIR travelers throughout Central Asia and enjoys sharing his knowledge with other travelers. Navruz is his favorite holiday.
Celebrate Navruz in Uzbekistan in 2019 on MIR’s small group tour during the spring festival. Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan is a cultural and culinary caravan welcoming the return of spring, and the only 2018 departure runs from March 16-25, 2019.
For more information, contact MIR today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-424-7289.
Another legend says that Shah Jamshed discovered shakar (sugar) cane and ordered his people to extract sugar from it for the kingdom’s populace. This is where the tradition of presenting sweets comes from. In Uzbekistan, people still give halva, sumalak and other treats to each other at Navruz.
An important ritual is the cleaning of the house. Family members work together to clean every detail of the house: carpets, kurpachas (traditional mats), clothes, kitchen-ware, gardens and courtyards. Everything has to be clean and neat for Navruz. My grandparents felt that it was wrong to enter the new phase of your life with an unclean house or disorderly belongings.
The night before Navruz, we fill all the pots, cauldrons, buckets and cups with water, to symbolize that the year ahead will be fertile and pure as water for the whole family. The sacredness and purity of water is a tradition that pre-dates Islam, and perhaps comes from Zoroastrianism, in which water, air, earth and fire are considered to be four holy elements.
Buzkashi (aka Kupkari) is another national sport. A group of strong men on horses fights for the body of a sheep or goat, with the aim of taking it through the group of competitors into the goal. It somehow encompasses the fierce maneuvers of polo, rugby, horse riding and wrestling in one game.
Sumalak is a much-revered dish, prepared by groups of women who observe special rituals. The sumptuous brown dish is prepared from the wheat sprout’s juice and flour. The person hosting the sumalak party grows the sprouts for a week, sprinkling water onto the wheat seeds every morning with special blessings. Crowds of women gather to prepare the dish in one of the houses, as it takes many hours of work and is prepared in huge volumes. At night, the women make wishes as they stir the meal in turns. The women enjoy music and dancing all night, to stay awake and celebrate. This is an ideal time for the mothers to find brides for their sons. The meal is served in the morning to everyone in the neighborhood.
Halisa is a slow cooked meat porridge prepared overnight by the men in mahallas (community centers). The cooking is led by an oshpaz (a master), and it also has ritualistic value. The meal is distributed to everyone in the community. It brings togetherness to another level.
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Celebrate Navruz in Uzbekistan on MIR’s small group tour during the spring festival. Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan is a cultural and culinary caravan welcoming the return of spring, and the only 2018 departure runs from March 16-25, 2018. For more information, contact MIR today at email@example.com or 1-800-424-7289.
Top Photo: A local musician and dancer perform during Navruz celebrations; Photo: Douglas Grimes
PUBLISHED: August 10, 2016