Uzbekistan local time  

Autumn weddings

Autumn wedings in UzbekistanIn the life of the Uzbeks, from birth till the dying day, no event is as significant as wedding. A family starts to prepare for the children's wedding long before they attain their full age. A girl is just five or six years old, yet her mother has already started to prepare a chest with dowry for her.

The choice of a partner is believed to be such a crucial step that young people entrust it to the experienced elders.

By tradition, when a son comes of age, his parents start choosing a bride for him. It is not uncommon for a young man himself to take notice of a nice-looking girl. But even in this case all the rituals will be strictly followed.

After making certain that the young people match each other, the groom's parents send matchmakers to the bride's family. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are thought to be the most favorable days for matchmaking. If the bride's parents consent to the marriage they give a treat for the matchmakers.

The wedding is invariably preceded by engagement ceremony "fatikhatuj", whenon the day appointed by matchmakers the relatives of the young couple, the elders who are most respected in makhalla (community), and the bride's girlfriends are invited to the bride's house for a treat. In different regions of Uzbekistan this obligatory engagement ritual and wedding ceremonies can slightly vary. In them one can trace properties of pre-Islamic Zoroastrian rituals, customs of nomadic tribes, and the rites prescribed by the Koran.

For instance, in Samarkand on the engagement day the groom's parents bring to the bride's house a piece of white fabric, which symbolizes purity and cleanliness of their intentions; whereas the groom's nearest kinswomen come with four trays beautifully decorated with gifts. One of them contains specially baked flat cakes "gul-non" with their centers being dotted with multi-colored millet laid in the form of floriated patterns. On another tray there should be rice and meat for plov(national Uzbek dish). The third tray should be filled with sweets so that the young family could have a sweet life. On the fourth tray they bring gifts to the bride.

Among these gifts there must be a white scarf, some white fabric for a wedding dress, a white jacket, and white shoes. When matchmakers enter the bride's house with these trays, they are welcomed with sweets, white candies "parvarda" made of flour and sugar, and a dish with flour or white powder. The women's foreheads are marked with this flour or powder to protect the house against penetration of something dark or wicked. In some regions of the Republic, besides flat cakes, matchmakers bring in the bride's house freshly-cooked plov, steamed dumplings manty, and sweets.

Uzbek bread, non After the matchmakers state the purpose of their visit and hand over the gifts to the host and hostess, there starts "non sindirish" ceremony -" breaking of flat cakes". If the proposal of matchmakers for the two families to become related is accepted, the girl's parents hand them a white scarf as a token of their consent. After that the oldest relative or a makhalla representative, imperatively the one having many children, breaks two flat cakes while offering up a prayer with blessing and wishes of prosperity to the young couple. One pair of flat cake halves is divided among the women, and the second one - among the men present at the engagement. This ritual symbolizes that henceforth the young people will share pleasure and grief the way the cakes have been shared.

Eventually, the "non sindirish" ceremony originates from the ancient times. It existed in Sogdiana and Bactria as a Zoroastrian wedding ritual thousands of years ago. From historical sources it is known that getting married to the Bactrian beauty Roxana, Alexander the Great cut the bread into two halves and then gave one half to his  bride and kept the other half.

"Fatikha tuy" is accepted as an official engagement. The wedding day is appointed there and then. The bride's relatives present each matchmaker with two flat cakes and sweets wrapped in a cloth-dastarkhan, and also send gifts to the groom and his parents. On their return to the groom's house the matchmakers hand the trays with gifts to his relatives and the ceremony "sarpo kurar" - “show of gifts” begins. One of the bride's relatives (a woman having many children) unwraps the dastarkhan with gifts. Among the gifts there should be an embroidered suzane, flat cakes, sweet pies and candies.

The Karakalpak betrothal ceremony is somewhat different. By ancient tradition, having announced their daughter a fiancée, the girl's parents present the matchmakers with gifts. These gifts must include nine items, with the first one being a silver bracelet. The bride presents the elderly women from the groom's side with ear-rings and ritual brass bracelets with images of fishes, snakes or fangs of predatory animals. In the great antiquity such presents symbolized association of the tribal totem of the bride with that of the groom's clan. 

Both families spend the time left before wedding bustling about dowry and wedding feast preparation. The groom's parents should bear the wedding celebration expenses and provide the young couple with a dwelling. If they can afford, they buy an apartment or build a house for their son. Yet most often they build in their own courtyard a two- or three-room outhouse for a newly-married couple. And here you cannot do without help of your neighbors from makhalla. Building activity is carried out by means of hashar - an ancient Uzbek custom when neighbors render assistance and support to each other. If it is necessary to construct a house or erect a fence, to improve the street or make plov for a feast, everyone in makhalla is ready to help. To work together is both faster and livelier.   

Uzbek bride In the bride's house there starts a busy time for everybody. First, the dowry should be prepared - three chests decorated with patterns of multi-colored sheet metal. One chest is filled with quilts - kurpacha. In the second one there are pieces of fabrics, clothes and footwear necessary for the first seven years of marriage life until the young family becomes independent. Towels and linen are packed in the third chest. The bride's relatives should provide the house of a newly-married couple with furniture and all necessary utensils. The bride needs jewelry and the best cosmetics, too.

Furthermore, it is necessary to get a sarpo - garments for the groom: a double set of suits, shirts, jackets, trousers, sweaters, boots and embroidered skull-caps. It is also necessary to take care of a dressing gown - chapan with gold embroidery and an elegant turban, which the groom should wear on the wedding day. Moreover, the gifts for the groom's parents and relatives are to be prepared. All that costs a lot, but in such cases expenses are not reckoned with.

In many regions of Uzbekistan embroidered articles are indispensable part of the dowry. The biggest and most beautiful suzanes are embroidered by the bride's mother when her daughter is still a little girl. By tradition, before the wedding day the bride's girlfriends gather at her place for hashar. The girls border the weddingbed sheet - ruidjo with a beautiful patterned band on three sides, and decorate with an ornament the coverlet which will be held over the heads of newly married at the wedding ceremony. Together with suzane a long embroidered fabric strip zardevor should decorate the bride's room. Furthermore, it is necessary to embroider with gold strings a scarf kul-rumol and an elegant velvet vest for the bride's wedding costume. 

A few days before the wedding ceremony the bride invites close girlfriends to a girl-party "kiz oshi" . She regales them with tea, flat cakes,sugar - navat, candies, sweet pies,halvah - halvoytar, puffpies - somsa, thin boiled noodles with bitsof meat - naryn, fruit. The girls sing songs and dance, and the bride presents everyone with a small souvenir.

On the eve of the wedding day the bride's nearest relatives decorate her room with suzane, hang zardevor on the upper part of the walls along the perimeter of the room, and get the wedding attire ready. 

And now there comes the time for the wedding celebrations. They start with a morning plov arranged by the groom's family for men. The invitations to all the relatives, friends, neighbors and acquaintances are sent in advance. The morning wedding plov is arranged in the yard of the house or in the makhalla chaikhana (tea-house). Overnight the sabzi tugrar (“carrot shredding”)ceremony is held. This ceremony is usually attended by neighbors and close relatives. On completion of the ceremony all the participants are invited to a treat, and at the table the elders distribute among the present the duties to be performed during the wedding rituals. Cooking of the morning plov and servicing the guests are entrusted exclusively to men.

The morning plov should be ready by the moment when the first prayer "bomdon namozi" is completed, that is, approximately by 5:30 a.m. The sounds of karnay, surnay and doyra call the guests to the treat. The prayer with wishes of well-beingfotikha having been uttered, flat cakes and tea are offered to the guests. Then comes plov served in bigdisheslagans. All these arrangements are accompanied with songs and melodies performed by musicians and singers. After the meal the honorary guests are presented with chapans andembroidered skull-caps, and the empty lagans are cleared away. Having expressed their gratitude to the host, the guests leave. As a rule, so many people are invited to the morning plov that after the first group of guests leaves, the tables are quickly laid to welcome new guests.

In the house of the betrothed girl there is also a plov ceremony, this time for women - neighbors, relatives and bride's girlfriends. And what is more, the plov should be made of the ingredients brought from the groom's house. In some regions of Uzbekistan, in Fergana valley in particular, it is customary for the groom's relatives to bring on a special barrow a cauldron with freshly-cooked plov to the bride's house.

The next day the groom, his friends and relatives accompanied by the musicians playing the doyra and surnay come to the bride's house to welcome her parents. Being already dressed up the bride is expecting the groom in the company of her girlfriends.  The modern bride is generally dressed in a splendid white dress with a train, a hat with a veil and white gloves. However, the situation had recently changed and nowadays not only village girls, but also those living in the city prefer the Uzbek traditional attire of a bride. In Tashkent and Fergana regions the bride is dressed in a white silk dress or a dress made from khan-atlas as well as an embroidered sleeveless jacket, a silk dressing gown or a velvet gold-embroidered camisole. The bride's head is adorned with an original gilded openwork kokoshnik tillya-kosh with a lot of pendants. It is covered with a gauzy veil to hide the bride's face from indiscreet stares. From under the dress there are visible velvet or silk wide trousers hemmed with an embroideredband - djiyak. In Khoresm the bride is supposed to put on a long tunic-like silk dress of pink or white color, a dark red unbuttoned dressing gown and red wide trousers. This attire is supplemented with upward-toed shoes and a headdress takya-duzi in the form of a conic-shaped cap. In Surkhandarya region brides put on red dresses for the wedding ceremony.

Lots of jewelry supplementing the bride's attire are not merely festive accessories, but have magic and ritual significance. On the wedding day for the first time in her life the bride puts on rings, bracelets and a nose-ring symbolizing marital fidelity. At all times the temple adornments connected by chains have been considered a kind of protection against the evil eye together with amulet-cases - tumors.   

gold-embroidered chapan of Uzbek bride The bride's parents dress the groom in sarpo - clothes, footwear and gold-embroidered chapan presented for the wedding.

The bride's room is decorated with suzanes, all her attires hanging on them. In one corner of the room bride's relatives - a married couple that has lived a long and happy life - arrange a curtain – chimilik decorated with beautiful embroidery on two sides trimmed with white fabric. On one side of the curtain they hang a wooden spoon and a knife, on the other – hot red pepper. According to the ancient belief, a knife favors a new family with a birth of a brave and courageous son; a spoon augurs a birth of a daughter - a good house-keeper. And pepper protects the happiness of a young couple against the evil eye.

Here comes the bride escorted by her girlfriends who holdan embroidered coverletbolimpush over her head. It symbolizes a happy "roof" in marriage. The bride is brought behind chimilik. She is followed by the groom. He steps behind the curtain to the accompaniment of cheerful music. His friends are dancing around. A respectable elderly woman starts reading a blessing prayer for the young couple and all those present in the room join her in the prayer.

In order to drive away evil spirits the elderly women with lighted candles in their hands walk round the place curtained with chimilik three times, whereas the groom and the bride stand inside on a blanket - kurpacha made of multi-colored pieces of fabric. Then honey is brought.  The groom should taste it first and then give it to the bride with his own hands so that their further life could be sweet. Then they bring a mirror, which was not used before by anybody else. The young couple should see each other in this mirror. After that the groom puts on a watch or a bracelet on the bride's wrist. In front of the young couple they laya cloth - dastarkhan, also made of small pieces of fabric, which is believed to bring prosperity to the house. Sweets and flat cakes are placed on the dastarkhan.

After the parental blessing the imam (a Moslem priest) reads the prayer about marriage "hutbay nikokh" to the young couple and announces them husband and wife in the face of the God. The imam explains to the newly married their rights and duties in a family life. After that the groom and the bride usually go to a registry office to register their civil marriage.    

No less than two or three hundred guests are usually invited to the wedding feast. However, any passer-by who has caught the sounds of karnay can come to the wedding and he will be welcomed as warmly as an invited guest. The newly married take an honorable place in the center of the table against the background of carpets. By tradition, the bride is sitting modestly with her eyes dropped and her face closed with a gauzy veil. There are fresh flat cakes and teapots with black and green tea, dishes with sweets, parvarda, halvah, sugar-navat and fruit on the tables. Kazy (a horse-flesh sausage) heads the list of various snacks. First of all the guests are served with flavored soup-shurpa in abundance seasoned with greens. Then comes somsa – meat puffs baked in oven tandyr, shashliks on skewers, naryn (noodle soup) and plenty of other dishes. Plov is the acme of the wedding feast. On lagans there are hills of pearly rice with thin slices of yellow carrots and appetizing pieces of meat exhaling aroma. That is seasoned with zira (anise seeds), pepper and saffron. Seedless raisins or quince are added to the festive plov. The beakers are full of excellent Uzbek wine. The musicians are charming the guests' ears by playing the doyra, surnay and dutar. The singers are performing songs about love and brotherhood, destiny and life. Girls in beautiful national costumes are executing inflammatory dances. Soon the guests also join them.   

The culmination of the wedding ceremony is the bride's leaving for the groom's house. After the farewell ritual, when the bride says good-bye to her parents, her close girlfriends see her off singing the ancient ritual songs" Ulan" and" Yor-yor". The groom is expecting the bride at his place sitting on a chair with children - younger brothers or nephews - on his lap. It is an original symbol of a future large family. In some regions of Uzbekistan they still keep the most ancient ritual dating back to the Zoroastrian tradition of purification by fire: at the door of the house the newly-married couple walks around the fire three times, before the groom brings the bride into his house.

The groom shows the bride to the door of the room intended for the young couple. In the room the girl is met by yanga - her future kinswoman. Yanga helps the bride to change her clothes behind a specialcurtain - gashanga and get ready to meet the young husband. The groom accompanied by his friends enters the bedchamber and approaches the curtain. However, the yanga stops him here demanding a symbolic ransom for the bride. Only having bargained on the "price" of such an expensive "subject of sale" and having paid the ransom, the groom can join the bride.

On the morning following the wedding there starts the ceremony "kelin salomy" - welcome of the daughter-in-law. For this ceremony the groom's parents, his close relatives, friends and the nearest neighbors gather in the yard. One after another they come to the young woman, bless her, wish her happiness and present her with gifts or money to acquire household stuff.The new daughter-in-law - kelin should welcome everyone bowing down to the ground and handing everybody a return gift - a white scarf or a towel." Kelin salomy" can last for a few hours and during this ceremony the bride is supposed to change her clothes several times. This ritual means admittance of the daughter-in-law to the new family and introduction to new relatives and neighbors.

They say that autumn is the best season for weddings, but in Uzbekistan weddings are celebrated all the year round.