ASTANA – Kazakh people across the country are preparing to celebrate Nauryz on March 22, along with their Central Asian neighbors, Iranian and Turkic ethnicities and the Kazakh diaspora abroad. Three days’ worth of festivities, including concerts, exhibitions, sports competitions, and folk festivals, will take place on March 21-23.
The holiday of Nauryz marks the renewal of nature and the beginning of spring. Kazakhstan shares this tradition with diverse communities and ethnicities all over the world. Mostly associated with the natural beginning of the New Year, Nowruz is a celebration based on the Iranian Solar Hijri calendar, on the spring equinox – on or around March 21 on the Gregorian calendar. Nauryz is celebrated as a public holiday on March 21 in Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye and Uzbekistan.
In 2009 Nauryz was included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Nauryz in Kazakhstan traditionally symbolizes fertility, friendship, and peace. On this day, people spend time with their family and friends, and wish each other peace, prosperity and joy. People congratulate each other with the phrase “Nauryz meiramy kutty bolsyn! Ak mol bolsyn!,” which means “Congratulations on Nauryz! Let there be abundance!” A person replies with “Birge bolsyn,” which means “And the same to you!”
People all over Kazakhstan gather to celebrate, sing and dance, and participate in folk games and festive activities.
Nauryz kozhe is a festive dish that is often served on this holiday. It is a symbol of prosperity and abundance in the new year and usually consists of seven food elements – milk, meat, butter, millet, rice, and corn, though the ingredients may vary.
It is customary to host impromptu competitions of witty folk poets, aitys, and competitions, including Qazaqsha kures folk wrestling, a game of logic called togyz kumalak, equestrian games like kyz kuu, baige and kokpar, and socializing activities like altybakan, where young girls and boys get together to chat and ride on a big traditional swing.
From March 21 to March 23, Astana will host the Nauryz Bazary oriental fair on the EXPO premises. The fair will offer Kazakh and other nomadic nations’ cultural heritage, food, and entertainment.
On March 21, the fair will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on the second and third days, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The public will be able to enjoy oriental cuisine and purchase items from new collections of ethnic clothing, jewelry, and handicrafts made of ceramics, metal, felt and silk. Farms and producers from different regions of the country will offer fresh produce.
Festive events will also be held on the square near the Kazakh Eli monument and the city square on March 21-22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on March 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mass festivities will also be organized in residential areas throughout the city.