Festivals and Holidays

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Tour Title Activity Season Venue
Tour Title Activity Season Venue
Asrlar Sadosi or Echo of Ages Traditional Cultural Festival May Navoi

When you wander in a residential area and hear the sound of surnai and karnai pipes, the twang of the dutar and the rhythmic drumming of the doira tambourine, make haste to the celebration, for a toi (wedding) is underway and stray foreigners are invariably welcome to join the fun. The wedding feasts of a grand toi can last a week, with the separate receptions held for the relatives of bride and groom. A beshik toi is held on the ninth day after a baby's birth, when the infant is strapped to a colorful wooden cradle and the mother rises from her bed. Sunnat toi mark the circumcision of boys age between seven and ten years old. This important ritual purifies the boy and declares his entry into Islam and the community. Smaller holiday meals, for a birthday, new house or just the reception of guests, are called dastarkhan, when a family sits round a piece of cloth laden with Uzbek dishes, sweets, fruits and non.


The most cherished public holiday is Navruz ('a new day'), the Central Asia new year that falls on March 21 in Uzbekistan. During this festival of spring renewal, look for singing, dancing the parading of seven special dishes beginning with an 's', including sumalak (a wheat bran pudding cooked during an overnight party), kurash - wrestiling by burly palvans and epic poetry recital by wandering bashki minstrels. Streets and bazars fill with crowded seeking national dishes and handicrafts, and the festival culminates with a ritual ploughing of the first furrow of the year by the most respected aksakal in the village.


Other traditional entertainments for which no excuse is needed include skull splitting ram fighting, frenzied uloq (a game of polo played with the decapitated corps of a sheep), Uzbek circuses featuring the high wire and the rather more decorous professions of bird fancying and backgammon.

The following is calendar of national holidays which are accompanied by big festivals. Government and businesses are close on these days.

January 1 New Year Day
March 8 International Women's Day, men greet women with the first spring flowers
March 21 Navruz - A New Day holiday
May 9 Victory Day, honor veterans and martyrs of the Great Patriotic War (World War II)
September 1 Independence Day, commemorating independence of Uzbekistan (1991)
December 8 Constitution Day, commemorating independent Uzbekistan's first constitution (1992)

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Religious Holidays

The following Islamic holidays are generally observed in Central Asia. Dates are fixed by the Islamic lunar calendar, which is shorter than the Western solar calendar, beginning 10 to 11 days earlier in each solar year. Religious officials have the formal authority to declare the beginning of each lunar month based on sightings of the moon's first crescent. Future holy days can be estimated, but are in doubt by a few days until the start of that month, so dates given here are only approximate. The holidays normally run from sunset to the next sunset.

Ramazan (Ramadan) the month of sunrise-to-sunset fasting
Hayit (Eid al-Fitr) involves three days of celebrations at the end of Ramadan month, with family visits, gifts, banquets and donations to the poor
Qurban Hayit (Eid al-Azha) the Feast of Sacrifice, and is celebrated over three days. Those who can afford it, buy and slaughter a sheep, sharing the meat with relatives and with the poor. This is also the season for haj (pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia)

Holiday Food

A big occasion for eating is Navruz. Along with osh and other traditional fare, several dishes are served particularly at this time. The traditional Navruz dish, prepared only by women, is sumalak - wheat soaked in water for three days until it sprouts, then ground, mixed with oil, flour and sugar, and cooked at a low heat for 24 hours. Halim is a porridge of boiled meat and wheat grains, seasoned with black pepper and cinnamon, prepared just for men. Nishalda - whipped egg whites, sugar and liquor ice flavoring - is also popular during Ramadan.