Nowruz – Spring celebrations in Uzbekistan
The arrival of spring is welcomed in Uzbekistan with a number of spring celebrations. One of them is Nowruz, which is celebrated throughout the country every March 21, during the equinox. This celebration is a symbol of the Uzbek New Year and the awakening of nature. In the past, Uzbeks used to start sowing seeds as soon as the Nowruz festivities were over.
The origin of Nowruz festival is often linked to the pre-Islamic religion, Zoroastrianism, and is celebrated in several Central Asian countries along with Islamic holidays. On this day, typical Uzbek dishes are prepared using different products.
For example, soumalak is made with sprouted wheat seeds mixed with flour and butter. The preparation of this dish is an opportunity for neighbors to get together after a long winter period.
It is also often said that soumalak helps the human body to recover after the winter thanks to its vitamins. Other traditional dishes are also prepared during Nowruz such as khalim (different kinds of meat with a mixture of grain seeds), spinach samossas and ravioli with pidina.
The Nowruz celebrations are followed by a sports game called bouzkachi. According to a legend, this sport was inspired by wolves teaching youngsters how to hunt. The word bouzkachi is derived from the Persian words boz (goat) and kachi (shoot). Horsemen compete to catch a headless ovid carcass. The challenge is to bring the carcass to the opponent’s field, earning the winners rewards. This horse game requires participants to have great strength.
Traveling to Uzbekistan in spring will allow you to discover the major cities of the country such as Samarkand, Bukhara or Khiva, but also attend Nowruz celebrations.