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Holidays and Festivals of Uzbekistan

As a rule, every country has its major national holiday. More often than not this is Independence Day. In the past most of today's independent states - including the USA - were colonies, dominions, protectorates, or mandated territories. In other words, they were dependencies. So, many peoples in Asia, Africa and America were engaged in achieving their ultimate goal of liberty and independence.

Independence Day is the major and the most revered holiday in Uzbekistan. The country gained independence on August 31, 1991. This year the date has been celebrated for the fourteenth time. On Independence Day outdoor fetes and gala concerts take place in all cities, towns and villages of Uzbekistan. The main show is held on the huge stage of the Alisher Navoiy National Park in Tashkent. Uzbekistan Independence DayFollowing the president's complimentary speech addressed to the nation, there begins a grand-scale dramatic performance given by the country's best actors, singers and dancers. The night sky is illuminated with a multi-colored fireworks display. It has also become a tradition to hold a folklore festival in one of Tashkent's parks on Independence Day. During this festival ethnic cultural centers of Tashkent present folk songs, dances, arts, crafts, and cuisines of over 130 ethnic groups who live in Uzbekistan in peace and accord. After gaining independence, the residents of Uzbekistan could enjoy their civil rights only after the Constitution had been adopted. It was such an important political event for Uzbek people that in 1992 the date of December 8th was proclaimed as Constitution Day, a yearly national holiday.

The calendar of the national holidays of Uzbekistan also has Commemoration Day which is celebrated on May 9th. On this day all those Uzbekistan citizens who gave their lives for the freedom of their motherland, who bravely fought in the World War II, who selflessly worked in the home front for the sake of the victory over the fascist Germany, are commemorated. March 8th is celebrated as International Women's Day in Uzbekistan. On this day men of all ages and status show their love and respect to women, give them flowers and presents. October 1st is celebrated as the national Teacher's Day.


All the peoples consider spring the time of revival, renewal, great expectations and hopes. The spring holiday Navruz is the incarnation of all this. The holiday is celebrated on March 21st, on the day of the vernal equinox. According to the oriental calendar Navruz marks the beginning of the New Year. Navruz began to be celebrated in a very distant past and has always been a pagan, folk holiday, a holiday called for by nature itself - and it remains like this till now. In the independent Uzbekistan Navruz acquired a new connotation: it has become a national holiday. The people of all the ethnic groups living in Uzbekistan celebrate this holiday with great enthusiasm. A few days before Navruz, people usually arrange khashar (voluntary and joint public work), during which they clean and decorate their cities, towns and villages. By the time Navruz begins all the preparations for the feast are completed. Multi-dish and sumptuous meal is the acme of the holiday, which from the earliest times has been made with the hope that the year ahead will be productive and profitable. The main dish of the feast is undoubtedly the ritual sumalyak. The residents of Uzbekistan can have it only once a year, the guests of the country might try it, if ever, once in a lifetime. Sumalyak is made from sprouts of wheat grains, symbolizing eternal life, and wheat flour. It has the consistency of a thick cream and has a pleasant distinctive taste. The dish is given as a treat to the family members, relatives, the beloved ones, guests and neighbors. According to tradition, on Navruz people forgive each other all the offences and make friends with all those they used to bust up. The poor, lonely and sick are paid visits to and are given special care and presents. Navruz is celebrated over the period of one month. The famous literary work "Navruzname", which was supposedly written by Omar Khayam, has the following momentous lines: "The one who celebrates and has fun on the day of Navruz will have a happy life till the next Navruz".

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are also celebrated by Uzbek people with great enthusiasm. In every family a New Year tree is decorated and a feast is prepared. Outdoor fetes take place, too. Various entertainment programs are broadcast on TV.

Among the state holidays of Uzbekistan there are many religious ones. They are celebrated according to the Muslim lunar calendar. In the Soviet times these holidays were banned in Uzbekistan. But after the country became independent, these holidays were legalized and by now they have acquired really nation-wide character. One of the most significant Muslim holidays is Kurban-Khait. It is the day when the faithful should make a gratifying oblation in accordance with their personal incomes. After the ritual praying the faithful go on visits or receive guests at home. On this day those who are poor and suffering are taken a special care of.

Ramazan-Khait is a holiday of moral purification and spiritual revival. This holiday comes after 30-day fast and falls at the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. During these days it is a custom to commemorate the deceased, to visit and help the sick, lonely and poor.


There is a variety of yearly festivals held in Uzbekistan, too. They are very popular with the people and treated as holidays. One of them is the folk festival "Boysun Bakhori" ("Boisun's Spring"), which is held in the mountainous Boysun District, Surkhandarya Province. The way of life of many generations has remained almost unchanged in this area. Each family preserves and passes down from generation to generation the standards of home arrangement, old rituals, traditions and customs that date back to the age of the pre-Muslim pagan culture. In Boysun ritual songs and dances, performances of the akyn narrators of folk tales and legends continue to live their natural life, not as a theatrical performance for tourists. AlpamyshIt is here that a thousand years ago akyn narrators composed the heroic epic "Alpamysh". The people of Boysun consider themselves to be the descendants of the legendary Alpamysh. They tell stories about him and his deeds relevant to surrounding gorges and villages. Thus it is no wonder that along with 19 other regions in the world, in 2001 Boysun District was included in the UNESCO List of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". Every year the participants of 'Boysun's Spring' come from scores of countries. The festival attracts a lot of professional and amateur folklorists. During the festival one can travel in time and learn the ancient secrets of fire-worshippers' rituals and shaman cults, make acquaintance with the life of the distinctive region where culture and traditions of ancient peoples have been well preserved.

international musical festival "Shark Taronalari"

The international musical festival "Shark Taronalari" has become very popular and prestigious. For the first time it was held in Samarkand in 1997 on the initiative of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan's President. The venue of the festival was not a random choice at all: they took into account the fact that Samarkand - as an ancient center of the Great Silk Road and a depositary of the cultural heritage of the Uzbeks - is of great significance not only to Central Asia but to the countries to the east and west. The first festival was a success beyond expectations. Folk music performers from 29 countries took part in it. The fifth festival held in August 2005 attracted a record number of participants and visitors from over 50 countries. Unforgettable were the performances of the throat singing band "Uran Khai" from the Republic of Tuva, (Altay, Russian Federation), the folk singer Simara Imanova from Azerbaijan, Chinese and Indian musicians. Everybody was deeply impressed by the Uzbek performers of the ancient national musical genre makom.

A guest of "Shark Taronalari-2005", the famous French singer Charles Aznavour said that in his childhood he had learned about 'the mysterious and unique gem of the East' from the play Let's Go to Samarkand, but it was only in 2005 that his dream to see the ancient monuments of Samarkand and Bukhara came true. Paying tribute to the allure, liveliness and range of the festival, he said that through it the people of Uzbekistan clearly show to the whole world their openness, love for art, philanthropy, friendliness and hospitality.

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