Wedding and other ceremonies in Tashkent

Tashkent Uzbeks celebrate several ceremonies or gatherings with the term of “Tuy”, meaning “wedding”. Hence there are several traditions connected with the birth of a baby in the family of Tashkent people:

- putting the baby into the cradle “Aqiqa”;

- “Beshik Tuyi”; if the baby is a boy a special ceremony dedicated to his circumcision (making him a Muslim);

- in order to unite two young people girl and the boy “Nikoh tuyi” – “Wedding party”

So, all these occasions are celebrated with close relatives and friends are called “Tuy” – “Wedding”

A new baby in the family 

It is a great happiness for Uzbek people when a new baby is born in the family. In these happy hours it is a great joy that the proud father visits the maternity house with a car to take the new born baby and mother home. Usually he greets his son or a daughter and the mother with flowers. It is also common to take a video recording of the homecoming event in order to commit the moment to memory. To this ceremony, the closest relatives and neighbors are invited and according to tradition, guests will come to the house with new gifts and sweets. The mother of the bride, who gave birth to the new baby, will take special dowries and cookies dedicated to her daughter.

Aqiqa 

Aqiqa in Arabic means “to cut”, the whole procedure in this ceremony consists of sacrificing sheep, cutting baby’s hair, touching the scissors to the stomach of the baby and reading of the Koran by a Mulla in honor of the baby in the presence of close family and neighbors. As it is stated in Holy Books, this event preferably takes place on the seventh, fourteenth or twenty first days of baby’s birth. According to tradition the invited Mulla starts by making a kind of speech about good Islamic morals and when the above mentioned procedures are over, the big pilaw and sweets should be eaten together. Usually most relatives will carry some cooking, gifts and sweets to the house of the baby. Also one of the important moments of this occasion is the baby will be given a name then he is read the Koran and he will be considered as Muslim. May be some parts of this ceremony will be changed, no matter. It means that automatically this ceremony traditionally could be held in any time of babyhood and there is not strict observation from Islamic point of view.

Beshik Tuyi 

The ceremony of putting the baby into the cradle is generally carried out by honored women of the mahalla and close relatives. Tashkent tradition is that the mother of the girl must make a decorated cradle and bring gifts of clothing for the baby. They say that bargaining while buying the cradle from the bazaar is usually considered to be a bad symbol. This ceremony is completed with a lavish table, with games, good humor, singing and dancing. 

Sunnat Tuyi 

Sunnat in Islam means not obligatory but recommended or at least not forbidden. The highlight of this ceremony is circumcision - most people do it in Aqiqa, but some people, in order not to make it too difficult for the baby, do it later when the baby is 6-7 years old. In Uzbekistan to have a baby son is honorable, therefore people used to make a greta festive dinner on the occasion inviting many people. In Tashkent people used to hold this ceremony called “Oshi nahor” early in the morning starting at 4-5 o’clock. As this feast commenced with the playing of flutes and pipes, the tradition became unpopular because in Tashkent where Russians live together with Uzbeks in congested apartments,the disturbance was unacceptable. Many people invited to this grand pilaw had to get up very early and this time of the day, public transport was not operating and they would have to hire taxies. For these reasons, the Uzbekistan Muslim Board decided to organize these celebrations towards 7-8 o’clock in the morning. The history of giving of early “oshi nahor” in Tashkent dates back from times of Yunuskhuja’s rule of Tashkent in XIX century (see Beshyagach daha chapter).

Ceremonies connected with Nikoh Tuyi 

In Tashkent wedding ceremonies are in three stages:

a) Ceremonies before wedding: becoming engaged, fotiha (announcement of a girl and a young man becoming engaged to each other, each occasion is supported by the reading of Koran sura, giving a big pilaw on the occasion of engagement, inviting approximately 30 or 40people, maslahat oshi (the counsel pilaw)).

b) Main ceremonies on the wedding day: sending of the tuy package (ingredients necessary for meeting needs of 200 or 300people at the lavish table served with big pilaw), bride’s coming to bride groom’s house. 

c) Ceremonies arranged after tuy: bride’s greeting, charlar, inviting of in-laws to the house of the girl, sending sweets and cookies to the house of the new bride on the day of Ramadan hayit (great Muslim holiday at the end of Ramadan).

Sovchi is a person who will arrange an engagement, or matchmaker. So, he or she asks for a girl’s hand to be offered to the suitable partner’s son and is a kind of mediator for introducing the two young people and matching them in order to en sure future family happiness. Therefore as everywhere in Uzbekistan matchmakers should be experienced people. Before the involvement of the matchmaker young people who love each others meet in the parks and gardens and the girl will be given a gift. An important moment is that if the girl accepts the gift, it means the girl has consented to the wedding. After that the matchmaker goes to the girl’s house to ask for her hand and a gift of made of white fabric presented to the matchmaker is a symbol of agreement by the girl’s parents.

In the mahalla parts of Tashkent there is a good tradition, which developed over centuries: a girl to be married or a young bride comes out to sweep the yard of the area in front of the gates with the first rays of the morning sunshine.

Fotiha tuyi This is a small ceremony held before the main wedding tuy. Fotiha tuyi in Arabic means “to open” or “to start”. Hence it is possible to understand “Fotiha tuyi” as a step towards wedding. This ceremony can also be called “patir ushatar”, from uzbek it means “breaking bread or engagement” and the purpose is the announcement of a girl’s becoming engaged to someone. Therefore this ceremony in Tashkent is known as “Malumoshi” which means “the pilaw of announcement”. In fotiha tuyi, a sheep, flour, rice, carrots, home made sweets and fruits, sufficient for serving a party of 60-70, will be taken by the house of bride groom. It is traditional at this party, to give the mother of the girl a monetary consideration to provide her with milk and money for sewing of the wedding clothes.

Qalin is a certain sum of money given to the girl by the in-laws. From ancient times this sum of money was equal to the cost of the sheep. Sometimes people call this “milk money or mahr” (payment for growth in Arabic). But there is another interpretation of this money, as according to Islamic shariat “mahr” is the girl’s total value and the future bride has the right to evaluate it as much as she likes and it is an obligatory custom of the Islamic engagement. But at present most people explain “mahr” money as wedding expenses given by the parents or close relatives of the bridegroom. And also nowadays as for tradition the bridegroom part gives “mahr” money according to their generosity within the scale, which is popular among the people. A kind of disagreement as for the sum of “mahr” money between the parents of the young people is a very rare case in Tashkent, because this thing among people related to some old feudal traditions.

Qiz sepi (a girl’s dowry) is a complex of gifts and all new clothing collected over years and given to their daughters on the occasion of her wedding. Most parents, especially mothers start collecting dowries as their daughters became 12-13 years old. In Tashkent now it is tradition to include expensive imported furniture in a girl’s dowry which causes problems for some people with meager income.

Official and Islamic registration of wedding 

Most young people in Tashkent officially register their weddings in special government offices called “Bakht Uyi” accompanied by their friends and close relatives. It is fashionable to arrive in stretch limousines. Before or after the registration they usually make excursion to one of the well known sights in the city (On Fridays one may see a convoy of luxurious Mercedes cars of wedding couples putting flowers on the monuments of heroes). The Islamic Nikoh takes place mostly at the home of the bride when the certificate of official registration is shown (This is by decree of Uzbekistan Muslim Board).

Quda oshi and navcarlar. It is tradition to give a big pilaw to people on the wedding day in the home of the girl. Later it became a tradition to make pilaw for people at the groom’s home too. Nowadays it is customary to have only one pilaw and for the parents of the bride groom to provide this. On the wedding day the bridegroom and his accompanying friends visit the house of the bride. They eat pilaw there in a specially prepared room where they will eat 9 kinds of meals served by the wives of her brothers or other relatives. After eating the meals amid humor and laughter, the friends of the bride groom will pay a symbolical amount of money to support the function. In Tashkent this ceremony is mostly held in homes. Most people invite musicians to the function and they usually play classical music and sing classical songs. 

Tuy bazmi 

This is the highlight of the wedding ceremony. “Tuy bazmi” means a wedding party, where a lavish table is laid for 200-300 people, accompanied by music and dancing and the guests of the bride and the groom will take gifts to them. It usually takes place in the home of the groom or if the groom’s parents chose, in cafes or restaurants in Tashkent. Later these parties became as competition between people, where some wealthy people held this party in big restaurants inviting up to 500 people and hiring famous singers. Formerly in Tashkent when the bride was taken to the house of the groom, she had to walk around the three fires made at the gate of the groom and greet her new relatives bowing. After this procedure the groom had to carry the bride on his arms into the house, where the special room with separated corner decorated with new clothing and suzanes is waiting for them. This part of the room still exists now and it is called “Chimildiq”, where newlyweds spend a few days together. In Tashkent on the first night and for a further couple of days, the mother of the bride sends in some delicious meals. After the wedding days, when the groom starts to go out on the street to his work or study, he has to hold a pilaw for his friends in a Chaykhana.

Kelin Charlar. Calling the bride to her mother’s house first after the wedding day. It takes place mostly two or three days after the wedding. Though this kind of ceremony was not a common Uzbek habit, anyway it became a tradition for Tashkent and in the whole country (It is little bit uncultured for Uzbeks for a newly wedded bride to go to her mother’s house for this greeting of her parents and brothers). At this ceremony the groom sends a sheep to the house of the girl and again the festive pilaw is eaten in the circle of close relatives of both sides and there is an exchange of gifts. This function is usually held in the daytime.

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