NUR-SULTAN – Nauryz, a holiday marking the coming of spring and the beginning of a new year, was celebrated March 21-25 throughout the capital with outdoor concerts, sports competitions and national artifact exhibitions, said Nur-Sultan Akimat (city administration) Deputy Akim (Mayor) Nurlan Nurkenov. Similar wide-ranging public celebrations were organised throughout the whole nation.
The Nur-Sultan Akimat planned more than 40 events to celebrate the holiday. A key part of the Nauryz celebration included sporting events, including championships in the martial arts and Kazakh kuresy [wrestling].
Festivities started a few days before the holiday in residential neighbourhoods. Residents of the International, Michurino, Zheleznodorozhny, Promyshlenny communities were the first to celebrate, then the celebrations continued in Prigorodnoye, Urker, Ondiris, Kazgorodok and Koktal. Celebratory events were held in 23 locations, including at the EXPO 2017 site, City Square, the square near the Kazakh Eli Monument, Zhastar Palace, Zhastar Theatre, Zhetysu Park and in residential neighbourhoods. Concert programmes and yurt (portable round tents covered with skin or felt) and altybakan (traditional Kazakh swing) installations were featured at all venues.
Both Kazakh President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev and former President Nursultan Nazarbayev attended celebrations at the EXPO 2017 site, congratulating Kazakhs on Nauryz. Nazarbayev personally gave his blessing to nine newlywed couples attending the celebrations. Astana Akim (Mayor) Bakhyt Sultanov and Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) deputies also attended the EXPO 2017 site celebrations.
The event also included a performance of Bulat Zhandarbekov’s novel “Tomiris” at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation and a performance of Mar Baidzhiyev’s novel “Tyl Tabyskandar” at Kalibek Kuanyshbayev Kazakh Drama Theatre March 20 and March 22, respectively.
Outdoor concerts also took place at Zhetysu Park, City Square and the square near the Kazakh Eli monument March 20, March 21 and March 22, respectively, and Zhastar Palace held a concert March 21-22.
Over the holidays, the Kazakh national football team started its Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a home match at Astana Arena against Scotland March 21 (with Kazakhstan winning 3:0), and Russia March 24 (with Russia winning 4:0).
Astana Nauryz Marathon runners made their way through Triathlon Park March 24. More than 700 runners, including adults and children, participated in the marathon, with proceeds from registration fees going directed to charity. Amateur competitions were held March 21 in Kazakhsha kures, weightlifting, kol kures (arm-wrestling), arkan tartys (rope pulling) and assyk atu (board game).
The first ever Kazakh Kazakhsha kuresy “Oner Barysy” tournament was held March 21. More than 20 amateur Kazakh celebrity wrestlers, including Abay Ayazbayev, Serik Ibragimov, Meirzhan Torebayev, Amangeldy Oteshov, and Artur Tolepov participated in the tournament. Assylkhan Tolepov and Syrymbet Baibossynov won in their respective weight categories.
An ethno auyl (ethno village) was also established on the former EXPO 2017 grounds, where Kazakh singers performed and theatrical artists and ethnocultural centre representatives showcased national customs and traditions. Yurts served as museums and displayed traditional musical instruments, jewellery, hunting equipment and ethnography. Visitors had the opportunity to see a Tazy and Tobet exhibit, featuring ancient Kazakh breeds of dogs and dog races. A food court offered plov (rice with meat and seasoned broth), Nauryz kozhe (a traditional cold and warm drink prepared especially during the holiday) and baursaks (puff pastries). A Nauryz-themed “Qosh keldyn, Az Nauryz” exhibition was held at the Saken Seifullin Museum from March 21 to March 24. Celebrations were also held at Naz National Dance Theater and celebratory concerts work performed at Zhastar Palace and School Number 68.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended Nauryz celebration across the city this year, according to Kazinform. This year, Kazakh citizens had the longest weekend of the year during Nauryz, with March 21 to March 25 declared national holidays.
Nauryz is considered a traditional new year holiday that is celebrated in countries with Persian and Turkic heritage on the day of the sping equinox. Nauryz is also called “the great day of people” in Kazakh. Since 2009, Nauryz has been included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.