Kazakh Diaspora in UK Organizes Family Activities in British Countryside to Celebrate Nauryz

ASTANA – The UK-based Kazakh diaspora celebrated Nauryz in the city of Woking on March 25. The five-hour indoors and outdoors family festivities in the countryside gathered more than 230 Kazakh citizens across the nation.      

Guests at the Nauryz celebrations in Woking. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

Guests participated in folk dances in national attire, cultural performances, entertainment, and were offered traditional Kazakh dishes, including Nauryz kozhe, the main dish of seven ingredients served during the holiday [symbolizing the seven earthly virtues], and beshbarmak, the national meal of boiled horse meat with pastry noodles and potatoes.

Almash Aliyeva, who is residing in the United Kingdom for the last 17 years, came up with the idea of organizing separate Nauryz festivities for Kazakh people after being inspired by the Central Asian Spring Festival (CASF), the biggest annual Nauryz celebration at the University College London (UCL) in the British capital with the participation of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tatarstan, Afghanistan, and the Uighur diaspora.  

Beshbarmak (the Kazakh national dish translated as five fingers). Photo credit: The Astana Times.

“I thought about gathering all Kazakhs on Nauryz after going to one of the holiday celebrations at UCL. We [the Kazakh diaspora] have been celebrating Nauryz in the United Kingdom for the last five years. It is a good occasion to get to know each other,” she told The Astana Times.   

“At the very beginning, we had no more than 15 people. Every year, the number is growing. Today, we are expecting more than 150 adults and 80 children to come to the event,” said Aliyeva.    

Guests playing tug-of-war on open air. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

The stage was festooned with traditional textiles, carpets, handmade souvenirs, and jewelry from Kazakhstan, decorated with the popular “Kazakhstan” dark chocolate bar.  

Kazakh riddles, proverbs, and tongue twisters were also part of competitions and quizzes, participants of which received not only positive emotions but gifts.  

Raushan Styles, the host of the event, has been living in the United Kingdom since 2008. She cited the importance of “showing our kids love for the country’s culture and traditions.”      

Women from Kazakh diaspora in traditional attire. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

“Not only Kazakh people celebrate this new year. It is celebrated all over the world. We also have guests from Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and other countries,” she added. 

Kazakh families living in the United Kingdom, diplomats, students, representatives of business circles and academia, as well as foreign nationals shared a common joy of celebrating the arrival of spring, the renewal of nature and human relations.        

“The event is organized by the new Kazakh diaspora, and it is great to meet my counterparts. It is very exciting. Can you see people already dancing? I am going to dance as well,” said Kazakh native Alma Farmer, CEO of the Silk Road Fashion Show, which introduces Central Asian designers’ fashion collections to British audiences.  

Handmade souvenirs and national clothing. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

As part of the interactive program, guests also performed the Kara Zhorga national dance and Kazakh philosopher Abai Kunanbayev’s song “Kozimnin Karasy” (the light of my eyes).    

Celebrating Nauryz has become an integral part of the cultural life in Kazakhstan after gaining independence in 1991. It was declared a public holiday in 2001. Later in 2010, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution gave it the status of an international holiday.    

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, YouTube and Tiktok!