Art & Culture

KAZAKHS … CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS OF RECEPTION

Kazakhs have always revered and highly valued their national customs and traditions. It is almost impossible to describe all the traditions followed by Kazakh people in one article.

 The ancestors of modern-day Kazakhs were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and many of their customs reflect that lifestyle.

The main tradition of Kazakhs, which eventually transformed into a feature of national character, is hospitality. Hospitality has always been a main character trait of Kazakh people. Even if you have just a minute to pop in to a Kazakh house, an owner will still ask you to sit down and offer a fragrant tea with sweets. Respectful attitude to the guests contributed to the fact that traditional Kazakh feast took a shape of a ceremony.

Hospitality is considered a sacred duty in the Kazakh society. Even children in Kazakhstan learn hospitality and respect from a very young age, and this is reflected in the wonderful hospitality offered to all guests and travelers.

Travellers in Kazakhstan are most likely to be encountered with the traditions, associated with guest reception.

Guests are divided into three types: “arnayykonak” is a specially invited guest, “kudayykonak” – a random stranger (uninvited), “kydyrmakonak” – an unexpected guest. All these guests, despite of their type are offered a rich table – Konakasy which is a custom of presenting tastiest food to the guests.

Konakkade is another tradition under which a host has a right to ask a guest to sing a song or play a musical instrument as long as a guest is known for his or her talent, thus ensuring some fun and joy during the feast.

For the new settlers to the village, a feast of welcome in their honour known as Erulik is   arranged so as to allow them to get adapted to the new location. The custom erulik also includes assistance in settling of the newcomers, when neighbors provide them with firewood, drinking water, etc. for the time being.

There is also a special form of celebration, organized for holiday which includes Sports competitions, music, singing competitions (aitys) and horse riding competitions. It is known as Toy dastarkhan. Very often, dishes of Kazakh national cuisine are served during such occasions.

At all times, the steppe inhabitants did their best to please their guest. Therefore, each traveler knew that he or she would be welcomed anywhere in the Kazakh land. And this is the essence of Kazakhs.

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