Articles on Central Asia: Customs and traditions of the people

Eastern hospitality

The main feature of Central Asia families is hospitality and traditional respect to elders. People usually live in big families consisting of several generations; therefore the preference is given to large houses. A significant place in life as a part of hospitality is given to tea-drinking ceremony.  Moreover tea-making and serving is an exclusive prerogative of the host. It is appropriate to accept invitations and be on time. Going to visit it is desirable to take some souvenirs or sweets for children. Hand shaking is only between men. Women and persons siting at the background are usually greeted by putting a right hand to own heart and a slight head inclination. During a handshaking it is usual to ask about health, business and home. In rural areas women as a rule do not share a table win men not to interfere their conversations. It is not accepted to admire a beauty of women and to pay them attention. Upon entering the premises shoes are taken off. It is necessary to take the place that is appointed by the owner. Moreover, the farther it is from the entrance, the more honorable it.  Hospitality  is appreciated even more than family income and its origin. All guests, especially foreigners, enjoy the greatest respect for the hosts and are welcomed by all members of the family. Every meal begins and ends with plenty of tea. Tea is served  by the master only. The less is poured in a cup the more honorable the guest is.

Birth of a child

Birth of a child is a most joyful and long-waited event in the history of every family. The child is a symbol of procreation and immortality of the nation. Rituals associated with a childbirth occupy a special place in Asian family. These rituals are considered essential to protect a mother and her child from the effects of evil forces, predetermination of child's fate. It is also considered as introducing of a new family member to relatives and partly to a wider community. In addition these ceremonies express feelings of joy and hope due to advent of a new family member. Most children in Central Asian families are grown with a principle of "God until 6, Slave until 16, Friend afterwards".

Childbirth is considered to be the most important and joyful event in the life of a family and entire clan. A child is blessed for long and happy life by gray-bearded elders, experienced and respected elderly women. A child is successor of family, their traditions and a symbol of immortality. That is why even before the birth of a child a pregnant woman is strongly guarded against heavy housework, she is prohibited to leave limits of a household unaccompanied, various spiritual actions are undertaken to protect against impure forces and evil spirits. To protect herself, a pregnant women usually wears various amulets: “tumar” – leather triangles with hard-wired saying from the Koran, “auya tyrmagi” – amulet made of bear’s claw, “ukunun tyrmagi” – owl’s paw and other. Amulets are usually worn on the left side of the chest by the shoulder. A fireplace was flaming day and night to protect a yurt against evil spirits during childbirth. A knife edged to the doorway was placed by fire. A loaded gun was placed at yurt’s frame. These items were believed to scare away evil spirits and malicious forces.

Traditionally the first food of a newborn was melted butter – “sary mai”, then a child was put in in his first shirt “it koinok” (dog’s shirt). It was made of scraps of white fabric taken form elder’s linen or respected mother pf many children. This shirt is sometimes put on dog (over torso) and then on a child. All these actions are associated with “yirym” – to live a long and prosperous life, to be healthy and hardy. A number of rituals exists celebrate a childbirth. “Suyunchu” – a kind of alert, in order to get a gift for the message of childbirth; “krunduk” – gifts for a right to see a newborn for the first time; “djentek” or “beshik toy” – fest in honor childbirth; “at koyuu” – important child naming procedure is never conducted by a woman. This mission was delegated to a respected man – “azanchi”.

 

 

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