As I mentioned in my About page, I was born in Uzbekistan. I lived there till my 18th birthday, then moved to UAE. I studied first 9 years in Uzbek school and last 2 years in Russian school. It used to be 11 years total to graduate from school, but now they’ve changed it to a different system: 9 years in school + 3 years in career college/lyceum and only after that 4+ (depending on major) bachelors. After graduating from school I got accepted to National University of Uzbekistan on faculty of Economics. Upon completion of first-year curriculum my family and I moved to Dubai, UAE.
Since it is relatively small country, not everyone is familiar with it. I decided to introduce to you some basic information about its history, society, culture and traditions.
Uzbekistan is located in the heart of Central Asia, between two large rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya. People settled on the territory of Uzbekistan centuries ago. They built beautiful cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and others, which were ruined by neighboring tribes, but thanks to people’s efforts they again rose from the ashes and became much beautiful. This land was the crossroad of the Great Silk Road, connecting Asia and Europe. Here, in numerous bazaars and workshops craftsmen created fine works of art, which by the Silk Road reached the most remote parts of Europe and Asia. According to archeologists, Uzbekistan is one of the most ancient places of human habitation. It is known, that the area was inhabited long before our era, in the early Paleolithic period, according to the findings of ancient dwellings in Baysun Tau mountains and primitive tools in Samarkand.
“>As a result of an armed invasion of Russian troops in the 60-ies of the 19th century the Kokand Khanate was abolished and the Turkestan Governor-Generalship was established on July 11, 1867. The Emirate of Bukhara and the Khiva Khanate received the status of a protectorate. Power was concentrated in the hands of the governor-general, who carried out all the military and civil administration.
The new government focused on the agricultural sector of Uzbekistan economy: it resulted in the cotton growth for the needs of Russian industry. Gin houses and cottonseed oil mills were built, mining operations began, the Trans-Caspian railway was built, which connected Central Asia with European part of Russia.
“>In the autumn of 1917 the Soviet power was proclaimed. Turkestan was granted the status of the Soviet Republic within the RSFSR. Nationalists, disagreed with this decision, went to the mountains, from where started a fierce guerrilla war for the sovereignty of their native land. From 1917 to 1921 in Central Asia there was a struggle between guerillas and troops of the Red Army, which ended with the victory of the Soviet Union. In 1924 five new republics within the USSR were established, including the Uzbek SSR, whish existed until 1991.
In the first years of the Soviet power in Uzbekistan many measures were directed to the liquidation of illiteracy and construction of schools. At the same time the traditional life style and culture were destroyed. In the 30-ies of the 20th century an active industrialization of Uzbekistan took place: large plants and fabrics of light and heavy industry were constructed, new cities were built near these plants, and old cities were reconstructed. During that period Uzbekistan suffered from Stalin’s political repressions: among the victims there were leading politicians and cultural figures of Uzbekistan.
During the World War II of 1941-1945 the male population of the republics of the Soviet Union were taken to the front and the most important enterprises and people were evacuated to the republics of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan. During this period, Tashkent became a kind of evacuation center, which gave a shelter to refugees from the whole Soviet Union, and was called the City of Bread and the City of Friendship of Nations.
In 1966 a heavy earthquake in Tashkent destroyed the major part of the old city. In this connection the city was rebuilt in the Soviet style by the architects, coming from all over the USSR. In 1977 the Tashkent metro was put into operation. Today it is the only currently operating metro system in Central Asia.
In connection with the collapse of the USSR, the political independence of Uzbekistan was proclaimed at the extraordinary VI session of the Supreme Council on august 31, 1991.
The 1st of September was announced the Independence Day. The Republic of Uzbekistan was officially recognized as an independent state by 160 countries around the world . On March 2, 1992 Uzbekistan became a member of the UN. On December 8, 1992 a new Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted. The core of the new political system in Uzbekistan became a presidential form of government, in which the power of the President, as head of the state, and executive power were concentrated.
Since gaining the independence, Uzbekistan took a course to build the democratic state with market economy. The republic obtained the opportunity to independently conduct the foreign economic activity. Today, Uzbekistan is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other reputable organizations.
Uzbekistan people are represented by multiple nationalities and ethnic groups. Tens of nations and nationalities live in this country, and among them there are not only native nations of Central Asia – Tajiks, Kazakhs, Kirghizes, Uygures, Dungans, but also representatives of Europe and East – Russians, Tatars, Germans, Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Greeks, Turks. Also big diasporas of Koreans, Iranians, Armenians, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Ossetians and Chechens live in Uzbekistan.
Such ethnic diversity of Uzbek people is due to various historical events occured on the territory of Uzbekistan. Many ethnic nations of Soviet republics were evacuated here during the World War Second (Russians, Tatars, Armenians, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, Germans, Jews and etc.), representatives of certain nations were exiled here during Stalin’s repressions (Koreans, Tatars, Chechens, Jews). And even during the peace Soviet time, when the complete cosmopolitism was in the country, it was quite active migration. Especially it was concerned to youth, who continually went to scaled constructions and projects on rising and development of new lands, and then settled on developed lands.
The Uzbek language is the only official state language. Though the major part of population can speak Russian language. In some regions such as in Samarkand and Bukhara local people also speak Tajik language.
- Beshik Tui.
This ancient ceremony has been preserved in Uzbekistan culture from times immemorial and still is one of the most popular holidays in Uzbekistan. For every family it is a great holiday. All relatives, neighbors and family friends are involved in the preparation to the beshik-tui. It is celebrated on the fortieth day after birthday of a child. Relatives of the young mother bring “beshik”, a beautifully embollished cradle, clothes, and everything necessary for a newborn. Also it is a custom to bring bread, sweets and toys, wrapped in clothes.
Traditionally, while guests enjoy and regaling themselves at the holiday table, in the nursery elder women carry on the rite of first swaddling and placing the child into the “beshik”. The ceremony finishes with a presentation of a child, during which invited guests present the child with gifts
Khatna-kilish or Sunnat Tui is an ancient rite of circumcision. Preparations for this rite begin since the birth of a boy: members of the family sew quilts, covers, garments. The rite is performed when the boy reaches three, five, seven or nine years old and very seldom when he is 11-12 years old.
Before the beginning of the ceremony elder men, imam (priest) and immediate relatives read the Koran and say their blessings and wishes. Then the boy is dressed in new clothes, brought by relatives and neighbors. It is followed by a small ritual “takhurar”, when women put pillows and blankets on the chest. The ceremony is finished with traditional Uzbek dish, pilaf, and dances. It is a custom to give symbolical gifts to the boy: money (wealth), sweets (prosperity), expensive clothes, weapon and etc
- Fatikha Tui (Engagement)
“>In Uzbek families a wedding is preceded by the ceremony of engagement, Fatikha-Tui. The engagement is performed with the permission of parents of a bride and groom. In former times, when a boy came of age, his relatives, neighbors and friends began looking for a bride for him. Selecting a girl, aunts of the groom, or mother at least, came to the house of a bride under some pretext to get to know about the girl, her parents, asked neighbors about the family of the girl. If this information satisfied the relatives of the groom, soon they sent matchmakers to the bride.
Modern Uzbek people, as a rule, have an option to choose a couple, though the custom to rely on the choice of parents is also preserved, especially in rural areas of Uzbekistan. The ceremony itself is strictly observed today. Sovchi (matchmaker) appoint a day when guests would come in the house of the bride.
Matchmakers state the purpose of their visit and if parents of the bride agree, they make the ceremony of “Non sindirish” (bread breaking) after which the girl is deemed to be engaged. The wedding day is appointed and relatives of the bride give gifts to the matchmakers for the relatives of the groom.
- Nikokh-Tui (Wedding)
Nikokh-Tui, wedding, is the most solemn and large Uzbek ceremony. Traditionally Uzbek people celebrate weddings very richly and cheerfully with peculiar splendor and abundance of guests. Immediate and remote relatives, neighbors, friends and co-workers are invited to this wedding ceremony.
The festivities begin since the early morning with a festal wedding pilaf prepared in the houses of the groom and bride. Today the morning pilaf is more frequently prepared in cafes or choykhanas: it is more comfortable and less troublesome for the hosts.
After the morning pilaf the groom with friends and relatives, musicians and dancers come to the house of the bride. The bride in the wedding clothes, today usually in the European white dress, is waiting in the special room, where only mullahs (priests) can come in. They ask her marital consent and then read the prayer – “nikokh”, which effects a marriage.
The second part of the wedding ceremony is the farewell with parents and the home. Friends of the groom ship the bride’s dowry and the bride say goodbye to her parents and leaves the house accompanied with her friends and relatives, who sing farewell songs.
In the husband’s house women welcome the bride, singing traditional wedding songs. In front of the door there is the white track, payandoz, by which the bride enters the house. She stops before the door and makes “ostona salom”, the bow to the new house. Women strew her with flowers, sweets, money wishing her beautiful and rich life.
After the evening part of the wedding the groom goes with the bride to their new room. The bride is met by yanga, her relative or close friend. She changes bride’s clothes. After this the groom comes in the room and “pays a ransom” for the bride to yanga and then the newlyweds are left alone for each other.
Early in the morning after the wedding party the holiday is continued with the ceremony of Kelin salom (speech of welcome of the bride). Young wife should welcome every guest, bowing from the waist to everyone, and guests should give her gifts and greetings.