LONDON – Kazakh citizens celebrated Nauryz at the Central Asian Spring Festival (CASF) in London after casting their vote in the March 19 parliamentary election in the Kazakh Embassy in the United Kingdom.
Voting kicked off at 7 a.m. London time in Kazakhstan House, the home of the Kazakh Embassy in London, offering visitors national cuisine and exhibiting traditional attire.
Yersain Siyunov and Tilegen Yedigeyev, Kazakh postgraduate students at the University of Sussex, traveled to London to take part in voting.
“Today’s election is an important milestone in the history of the new Kazakhstan. The expectations are positive. I believe it will become a solid foundation for the implementation of all the economic and political reforms that are being discussed in our country,” Siyunov told The Astana Times.
He said “it is a civic duty for Kazakh people who live in the United Kingdom and love their country to vote for the Just and Fair Kazakhstan.”
“This election is different from what we had before. Its uniqueness is that the President gave everyone the opportunity to participate in it,” emphasized pated in Yedigeyev. As part of recent legislative changes in Kazakhstan, hundreds of independent and self-nominated candidates in election seeking to gain seats in single-mandate constituencies.
“I believe that participating in this election is the right choice. It will contribute to positive changes in our country. We will develop Kazakhstan together,” he said.
CASF, which is the biggest free annual Nauryz celebration in the city, was started more than 10 years ago by the Kazakh society at the University College London.
Kazakh Societies’ Guild, an organization uniting Kazakh communities from 10 universities across the United Kingdom (UCL, King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, Imperial College London, Brunel University London, University of Warwick, University of Manchester, University of the Arts London, University of Exeter, and City University), participated in preparations for the festival this year.
“It is very cool to realize that no matter how far we are from home, and how different our cultures are, we can gather together to celebrate our common holiday,” said Kazakh Societies’ Guild President Daniel Lavrentyev.
The festivities started at midday at the university’s main campus, offering guests Central Asian traditional dishes, folk dances in national attire, cultural performances, and entertainment. Exhibition stalls showcased traditional souvenirs, textiles, and jewelry from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tatarstan, Afghanistan, and the Uighur diaspora.
Aidana Baitassova, a visual storyteller from Kazakhstan, came to London to present her works at the Inner Steppe art exhibition during the Nauryz festival.
“We thought that by organizing this gallery at the Nauryz festival we can bring our local art to London for the people who are probably missing their culture. All the artists represented here are young women. We are working on encouraging the youth to participate in Kazakhstan’s cultural enhancement,” she told The Astana Times.
“I came to this event with my friends for the first time. It is very nice to see my fellow citizens, to taste our national cuisine away from home. We usually miss our traditional food when we are abroad,” said Aidana Sakbay, a guest of the event from Kazakhstan.
The spring holiday, which symbolizes the beginning of a new year for more than 300 million people worldwide, coincided with Kazakhstan completing its political reset cycle by electing candidates to the Mazhilis (the lower house of parliament) and maslikhats (local representative bodies) after last year’s presidential election and national referendum on constitutional amendments.