Uzbekistan Holidays and Festivals.
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UZBEKISTAN HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

This ancient land and melting pot of cultures is inhabited by people who enjoy the life and try to celebrate every aspect of life when possible.
Modern Uzbeks are a nation whose routes go deep into centuries and in whose veins runs blood of Sogdians, Bactrians, Ancient Khorezmians, Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Mongols and others. And all of them brought in their traditions, customs, religions and holidays.
From times immemorial the peoples of Central Asia (including Uzbekistan) were Zoroastrians and worshipped Sun and Fire. Zoroastrism which was born and developed in Central Asia, for centuries had very strong influence not only on local population and kingdoms, but also on the neighboring kingdoms and their religions. So nowadays the elements of fire worshipping you can find in Cristianity, Judaizm and Islam.
The biggest and the most important celebration and holiday for Zoroastrians was Navruz – New Year. It was celebrated on 21st of March – the day of Vernal Equinox and symbolized the birth of the new year. Even the Arab invasion after which the total population was converted to Islam could not uproot the ancient traditions and it was celebrated though out the Islamic period. Only during soviet period the traditional holidays were banned and replaced by new soviet holidays. After Uzbekistan gained independence and Uzbeks started returning to their old traditions and culture, Navruz is celebrated as the state holiday on grandiose scale every year. Every village, every town and city celebrates it with public celebrations and concerts. People visit their elders, families visit each other and various meals are prepared throughout the holiday week. In the countryside there are organized competitions of wrestlers, ram fights, cock fights and uloq, when horsemen compete and struggle for heavy carcass of the goat to show their brevity, strength and speed.
The sacred meal which is prepared specially for Navruz is called sumalak. It is cooked of wheat and there is involved a big group of people or several families as it is cooked in big cauldrons for several hours and after it is shared between all families. Sumalak is praised for being very healthy and energetic meal, very suitable for spring.


The other 2 holidays celebrated in Uzbekistan are Iyd al Fitr which celebrates the end of fast in Ramadan and Iyd al Adha, which is Celebration of Sacrifice by Prophet Abraham. Both of them are connected with Islamic beliefs of Uzbeks and celebrated with modesty and quietly.


Another important holiday if Independence Day on 1st of September, which is also celebrated on grandiose scale all over Uzbekistan.


Also in farming rural areas there are celebrated specific holidays like Pakhta Bayram - Cotton Harvest Festival and Lola Bayram – Tulip Festival.
Uzbeks also celebrate international holidays like New Year, Women’s day, Day of Labour and Memory Day on 9th of May.
A very popular festival in Uzbekistan is held in Samarkand every two years and it is called Sharq Taronalari – Melodies of the East. It is a festival of traditional music with participants from more than 60 countries and the last week of August turns Registan Square in Samarkand into a stage for perfomances.
Another festival of the same popularity is Asrlar Sadosi – Echo of the Ages, the Festival of Traditional Cultures. It is held every year in a different province of Uzbekistan.


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