Society • 26 March, 2019

​Nauryz spring holiday celebrated at festival in London

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 The diversity of Kazakh culture and art was presented at the Nauryz celebration hosted by the Central Asian Spring Festival student society (CASF) at the University College London, with the support of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK. Representatives of Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan also took part in the celebration, which was attended by thousands of residents and visitors of the British capital.

In his welcoming speech, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov noted the significance of Nauryz as a symbol of renewal and new life, as well as the importance of the festival in bringing people together and merging cultures. He also noted that events of this kind make a significant contribution to enhancing Kazakh-British relations and promoting Kazakh culture in the UK.

The “Murager" folklore ensemble, which travelled specially from Atyrau to London, performed at the festival's concert. The ensemble performed melodies of the Great Steppe, including the “Karazhorga" folk kui, the “Aridai" folk song, Kuanysh Zhumagali's “Koktem Sazy", and Seken Turysbek's “Ak Zhauyn".

The concert also featured Kazakh students enrolled at UK universities. A memorable performance was presented by the “Kos Arna" ethno-folk duo, whose members, Aida and Azamat Zhakhanbekovs, played such Kazakh instruments as the kobyz, zhetygen, dombyra, sybyzgy, and shankobyz. The pair performed Abai Kunanbayev's “Aittym salem, Kalamkas", Nurgisa Tlendiev's “Akku", as well as a work of their own, titled “Shattyk sazy". Aida is currently a student at the University of Sheffield, and her brother Azamat is a student of the Almaty music school for gifted children, named after Kulyash Baiseitova.

In addition to the concert, historical exhibits and works by Kazakh artisans were brought by the Local History Museum of Atyrau. Around 50 exhibits of the museum from different historical periods, including jewelry, national clothes and household items, were a highlight of the festival. Works of Kazakh fashion designers were also presented at the festival, and the books at Kazakhstan's stand were devoted to the country, its history, culture and tourism opportunities.

One of the main attractions of the festival was the Kazakh yurt decorated with national household items and traditional musical instruments. The guests had the opportunity to find themselves visiting the home of the Kazakhs of the steppe and take a picture in the legendary dwelling of nomads.

The culmination of the Nauryz celebration was the “tusau keser" ritual, which means cutting the ropes tied around the feet of a child who makes their first steps in life. Such a responsible task is traditionally entrusted to the person most respected in the family, so that the child follows in their footsteps. At the request of the baby's parents, Ambassador Idrissov cut the rope to the chantings and applause of the guests and walked several symbolic steps with him along the white path that symbolises the bright future that lies before the child.

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