Реферат: Navruz - A Celebration of Life. Public holidays in Uzbekistan

конецформыначалоформыNavruz — ACelebration of Life. Public holidays in Uzbekistan

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Navruz (also called Noruz, Nowruz, and Nawruz), the spring «NewYear» holiday, has been celebrated for more than 2,500 years, perhaps foras long as 5,000 years. Originating in Persia and long associated with theancient Zoroastrian religion, its name means «new day» in Farsibecause to ancient Persians it marked the first day of the new year. On thisday, Persian kings would have worn a crown with images of the annual solarcycle on their heads, participated in a divine mass in the Temple of Fire, anddistributed generous gifts to citizens.

Today, Navruz is celebrated each year on March 21, when the sun entersthe sign of Aries on the astrological calendar. In the northern hemisphere,this date frequently coincides with the spring equinox, the day on which thenumber of daylight hours equals the number of nighttime hours. On our modernGregorian calendar, the spring equinox varies from March 19 to March 21.Although their calendars were different, ancient peoples followed the course ofthe sun and moon closely, and knew that the seasons began to change on thisdate. For them, it was if the powers of light had overcome the powers ofdarkness, allowing the earth to awaken and life to be rekindled. Many of ushave similar feelings today, even though we understand the more scientificexplanation: that the northern hemisphere begins to tilt toward the sun at thisdate, which results in longer and warmer days.

As Turks and other nomadic peoples moved into Central Asia and areasaround Persia, they adopted the celebration of Navruz. Just as the Saxonholiday of Ostara was embraced by Christianity and become Easter in the West,Navruz traditions, which had taken strong roots in life of Eurasian farmers andtownspeople, survived the coming of Islam to the area 1,400 years ago. Today,Navrus is celebrated widely and colorfully in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan,Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and the westernprovinces of China, as well as by Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq and by Tatarsand Bashkirs in southern Russia. In the last ten years, the Central Asianrepublics have recognized Navruz as an official holiday. Its celebration ismarked by concerts in parks and squares, trade fairs and national horseracingcompetitions.

Celebrations of spring are a natural outgrowth of the earth fs rhythms.In most of the Silk Road countries, Navruz announces the joyful awakening ofnature after winter and the beginning of the agricultural cycle of cultivating,planting, and harvesting. Navruz traditions are similar throughout the region,and have varied little over the centuries, except to embrace Islam. Unlike thewestern New Year traditions, Navruz is celebrated in daytime hours within thefamily circle. March 21 is the main celebration, but for the next 13 days it iscommon practice to visit friends and relatives, buy and plant seedings of fruittrees and have cheerful gatherings in the fresh spring air. Traditionally, itis also a time to «clean up» one's life. People tidy up their homes,wash rugs and draperies, decorate with flowers, and buy new clothes that theywill use for visiting. On the day of Navruz, all housekeeping — including thepreparation of the meal, careful cleaning of the home and the arrangement of blossomingbranches from apricot, peach, almond or pomegranate trees — must be completedbefore rising of the morning star. Children enjoy the holiday because theyoften get presents of money, as well as blessings, from their elders.

The activities of the first 13 days of the new year are consideredharbingers of the year to come. For this reason, it is traditional to endquarrels, forgive debts and overlook enmity and insults. It is a time forreconciliation, when forgiveness and cheerfulness are the dominant sentiments.As with the celebration of the Chinese New Year, there are traditionsassociated with the first visitor to the house during Navruz. To ensure goodluck for the coming year, this person should have a «happy foot»; heor she should be kind, gentle, witty, pious and have a good reputation.

In Iran and small communities of Kurdistan, Iran and Northern India,where Zoroastrism has retained a strong influence amongst the populace,traditions require that the Navruz celebratory table contain specific elements.First, there must be a mirror, which reflects the past and shows the future sothat people can make reasonable plans. Next, there must be candles. The flameshark back to the sacred nature of fire in the Zoroastrian religion, andpersonify the light and energy of a righteous life. The table must also containan incense-burner for aromas and a water-filled vessel in which a live fish isplaced to symbolize a happy life full of activity and movement. Most tablesalso include coins, fruit and a copy of a sacred book, such as the Koran.Various types of food and plants must be on the table, including seven dishesthat begin with the Farsi letter «S» and seven dishes that begin withthe letter «sh.» These include vinegar, sumac berries, garlic, sproutedwheat, apples, berries of sea-buckthorn and fresh herbs as well as wine, sugar,syrup, honey, sweets, milk and rice.

In the western provinces of China, both Turkish and Chinese peoplecelebrate the holiday of Navruz by wearing bright cheerful clothes and going tothe temple with flowers and a small clay figure of a buffalo. A large bamboobuffalo is constructed near the temple and covered with paper painted in red,black, white, green and yellow, which symbolize the five elements of theuniverse (fire, water, metal, wood and earth). Near the temple people breakclay figures down and burn the bamboo buffalo.

Central Asia has its own Navruz traditions. From ancient times, theholiday was celebrated in agricultural oases with festivals, bazaars, horseracing,and dog and cock fights. Today, Uzbeks still serve a traditional meal of«sumalyak,» which tastes like molasses-flavored cream of wheat and ismade from flour and sprouted wheat grains. Sumalyak is cooked slowly on woodfire, sometimes with addition of spices. Sprouted grain is the symbol of life,heat, abundance and health.

On March 21, Kazakh and Kyrgyz households fumigate their homes withsmoke from the buring of archa twigs (a coniferous tree of Central Asian thatgrows mainly in mountainous areas). This smoke is said to make maliciousspirits flee. The main holiday dishes for Turkic Central Asians are pilaf,shurpa, boiled mutton and kok-samsa pies filled with spring greens and theyoung sprouts of steppe grasses. According to tradition, people try to make thecelebratory table (dastarkhan) as rich as possible with various dishes andsweets. Everyone at the table should be full and happy to ensure that thecoming year will be safe and the crop will be plentiful. The holiday isaccompanied by competitions of national singers and storytellers, singlecombats of horsemen and fights of strong men.

Tadjiks, whose ethnic roots are more Persian than Turkic, have slightlydifferent traditions. In a Tadjik household, the owner of a house or his eldersons must prepare fried shish kebab and a sweet pilaf made of rice and othercereals. These dishes symbolize the wish for the coming year to be as«sweet» and happy.

Some mountain settlements have a special custom. Before the holiday,young men will try to secretly clear out the cattle shed of a prosperous manwith a marriageable daughter. If they succeed, the owner must treat themgenerously; however, if they fail, they must treat the owner. In Afghanistan,Navruz is called «Ruz-e-Dekhkan,» the Day of the Peasant, or«Ruz-e-Nekholshoni» the Day of Planting Trees. Before going to theirfields, farmers arrange parades with songs and dancing, and traditionalinstruments. The horns and necks of oxen that will be used for the firstplowing of spring fields are sometimes rubbed with aromatic oil.

In southern Russia, Bashkirs probably adopted the celebration of Navruzfrom Persian tribes that once lived in the Ural Valley. The weather in theseterritories is not yet springlike in late March, so the holiday is somewhatdifferent than in other regions. First, young men in a community collectproducts for the making of a common meal and embroidered «prizes» forthe winners of running, dancing and singing competitions that will be held. Onthe day of Navruz, ceremonies are performed to cajole natural forces andspirits of ancestors into assuring a successful new year. In addition to thecommon meal, each family cooks a celebratory dish from buckwheat groats andsweets.

Throughout the world, many other cultures have long celebrated thecoming of the spring equinox. In Egypt, both Moslems and Christians celebratethe coming of spring on the Monday after Coptic Easter. This holiday, calledSham el Nessim, is thought to have its roots in ancient Egypt, when it wascelebrated at the spring equinox just like Navruz. Ancient Slavs, the Japaneseand many Native American tribes also have historical holidays that were tied tothe spring solstice. The longevity of Navruz and other spring celebrationsindicates the significance we still attach to the beginning of a newagricultural year and the triumph of life and warmth over the long cold winter.So, wherever you are next March 21, celebrate life!

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