Memos from Asia

Holiday Navruz: Brightest Event in Central Asia

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Colored eggs, wheat springs, and sweet pastry for Novruz Holiday in Azerbaijan. Selective focus.

Festival overview

Asian countries celebrate numerous holidays, events and festivals. However, Navruz (or Nowruz) is one of the long-waited festivals that is admired by all local nations of Central Asia.

Generally, the holiday is celebrated on the 21st of March, at the start of the new solar year. Hence, the day is commonly known as the Central Asian New Year. When translated into English, the term Navruz means “new day”. (People Travels, https://www.people-travels.com/about-uzbekistan/holidays-and-festivals-of-uzbekistan/navruz-in-uzbekistan.html)

Activities

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 22, 2017. Concert dedicated to Novruz holiday in Baku city, Artists perform songs and dances

Navruz celebration does not after the 21st of March. In the following 2 weeks, people visit their relatives, neighbours, bazaars (local markets), sports competitions and organize festivals. Others plant trees and make gifts to their children.

In Navruz, everybody becomes kinder and courteous to each other. (Central Asia Travel, https://www.centralasia-travel.com/en/publication/navruz)

Traditional Cuisine

The main dish of Navruz is Sumalak, which is made from germinated wheat. People call the relatives, neighbours, friends, acquaintances and they all gather to cook Sumalak.

The dish is prepared in 24 hours and women gather around the pot to stir and sing national songs. Guests spend all night with conversations, humorous speeches, traditional dances and games. In the morning, when delicious sumalak is ready, it will be distributed as present to guests by the host.

Moreover, samosa, nishalda and plov are other famous dishes of Navruz. Locals fill the table with delicious spring foods. (Advantour, https://www.advantour.com/uzbekistan/holidays/navruz.htm)

Tales about Sumalak

The rich and long history of Navruz caused the appearance of various tales and legends. The holiday originated about 3,000 years ago. The legend of a woman with children is probably the most famous story in the local area.

One day, the woman with several children could not find anything to eat. Hour to hour children got hungry and started asking for food. Poor mother pondered for a long time but did not manage to come up with any good idea. Yet, she found few grains of wheat and put it to the pot to cook with some small stones.

Ultimately, both kids and helpless mother unwillingly slept. In the morning, the family got surprised when they see the ready Sumalak in the pot. The mother fed her children with this meal and the other people also started preparing the Sumalak from that time.

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