Tradition and customs
Hospitality and traditional respect to elders are the main characteristics of Uzbek family. Usually, Uzbeks live in large families that consist of several generations, therefore preference is given to large houses built on the land. Tea ceremony takes considerable place in life as an element of hospitality. And tea making and sharing it with the guests are the host’s exclusive prerogative. Invitations to lunch and dinner are always accepted and you are expected to come on time. When planning a visit it is recommended to take souvenirs or sweets for the host’s kids. Usually only men are greeted by handshaking. Women and people sitting in the background are greeted by putting the right hand on the heart and accompanying this jest with a slight bow of head. During the handshaking it is traditional to ask about health, state of affairs at work and home. In rural areas in case of guest’s visit usually women don’t sit at the same table with men in order not to interfere their discussion. It is not polite to admire the women’s beauty and pay intent attention to them. Upon entering the premises shoes are taken off. It is necessary to take the place indicated by the host. The further it is from the entrance, the more honorable it is.
Ceremonies of Uzbek people have formed over the centuries as a result of complex process of merger of cultural skills and traditions of all tribes and nationalities that participated in Uzbeks’ ethnogenesis. They are quite original, bright and diverse, and go back to tribal patriarchal relations. Great number of ceremonies follows the family life and associated with birth and upbringing the child, weddings, burials.
Ceremonies associated with the birth and upbringing of kids (beshik-tuyi, khatna-kilish), wedding (fatiha-tuy, wedding) are of particular importance. Often they represent the combination of Islamic rituals with more ancient forms related to mystical practices. With adoption of Islam many family and everyday customs have undergone its influence, and Muslim religious ceremonies were introduced in Uzbeks’ life. Friday is deemed a holiday celebrated in the cathedral mosque by general namaz (prayer). Patriarchal customs continues their existence in the social life which is focused on mosque, chaykhana (tea-house), bazaar and in which only men participate.
Beshik Tuyi (wooden cradle) is a ritual celebration related to the first putting the baby into the cradle. It is one of the most ancient and widespread ceremonies in Uzbekistan. Usually, such event is held on the 7th, 9th or 11th day from the birthday of the baby. In various regions the ceremony has its specific features and depends on the family’s income level: rich families usually celebrate this event on a large scale, while families with low income celebrate it moderately. Beshik (cradle) and necessary items for the baby are provided by the relatives of the baby’s mother. Flat bread, sweets and toys are wrapped in dastarkhan (tablecloth).
Gifts are prepared for the baby’s parents, grandparents. Richly decorated beshik, dasturkhans and gifts are loaded on the car everybody together with the guests depart for the parents’ house under sounds of surnay, karnay and tambourine. According to the tradition, the baby’s grandfather takes the delivered beshik onto right shoulder, then he passes it to his son’s right shoulder, who then delivers it to the baby’s mother. In the past faces used to be coated with white flour in order to ensure that all the intentions of the guests were pure and good. Guests are invited to the guest room to the richly served table and while guests help themselves, listen to music and enjoy their time, ceremony of the baby’s swaddling and putting him into the cradle is held in the next room in presence of elder women. At the end of the ceremony guests come to the baby in order to take a look at him, bring their presents for him and throw parvarda (local sweets) and sugar squares onto the beshik. At this time the ceremony is over and guests return their homes.