Memos from Asia

Traditions and customs of Uzbekistan

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The customs and traditions of Uzbekistan formed for centuries. Precisely, the Uzbek nation is among the ancient ones in the world. The Uzbeks belong to the Turkic ethnicity group. Hence, it has many similarities with the traditions and rituals of other Turkic countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and especially Tajikistan.

How about looking through several of them to clearly understand the culture of Uzbekistan.

Greetings

In Uzbekistan, like in many other Central Asian countries, developed a tradition associated with greetings. When you meet somebody in Central Asia, you should greet each other even you neither friends nor cooperatives. People usually say “Assalamu Alaikum” when starting a conversation, which means “may peace be upon you” in Arabic. The other person responds: “Wa Alaikum Salaam.” translated as “may peace be upon you too.”

According to the rituals, youngsters were supposed to greet elderly persons, people driving a car should greet those walking on foot, and gentlemen were supposed to start greeting his servants first. (Orexca).

Hospitality

Samarkand, Uzbekistan – May 20, 2017: Uzbek women and a man pray in the historic cemetery of Shahi Zinda

Oriental hospitality is famous in the world. Meanwhile, Uzbeks pay great attention to the ability to receive guests. Hence, treatment is more valued than the dishes and beverages in the table. Not accepting or mistreating guest is considered as a shame to the family.

Uzbek families meet the guests at the gate. They greet each other and shake hands. However, shaking hands with women is not permissive. Young girls and women put their right hand on the chest when receiving respected guests. Afterward, hosts will invite them to the home.

After greetings, both hosts and guests enter the house. The most honored place in the room will be for guests. In the last century, there was a tradition that men and women sit at different tables, but this ritual is preserved only in some villages today. (Advantour).

Tea drinking

Ethnic Uzbek ceramic tableware. Decorative ceramic plates and cups with traditional Uzbekistan ornament.

In the Uzbek family, dishes and meals start with tea drinking. It also applies when there is a guest in the house. An owner or hostess pours tea into a bowl called “piyola” 3 times and put it back into the teapot. The rationale behind this tradition is simple – the tea can brew quickly in this way. If you are a respected and awaited guest of the family, the host will not completely fill your bowl with the tea. Otherwise, the filled bowl of tea means an unwanted guest or you visited in unappropriate time. (Orexca, (Orexca).

Mahalla

Khiva, Uzbekistan – April 17, 2018: Elderly men in traditional Uzbek clothes posing near the mosque in Itchan Kala – the historic old town of Khiva

Mahalla or Uzbek quarter has a considerable impact on preserving national traditions. The main peculiarity of Mahalla is that all residents know each other, so they show great respect and harmony. Entire Mahalla helps its residents to organize weddings, funerals, construction, and hashars.

Besides, people living in one quarter takes care of the belongings of each other. Elderly inhabitants contribute to preserving national rituals by organizing various events. (Advantour).

Currently, the number of Mahallas is decreasing due to the construction of skyscrapers, especially in large cities of Uzbekistan.

Hashar

Hashar is an ancient tradition of central Asian countries. It is somehow similar to volunteering work. In the past, residents of the same district or the city voluntarily gathered to build houses, dig canals, or organize wedding parties. (Sezam Travel). Currently, this tradition is continuing, and authorities are also paying close attention to organizing Hashar.

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