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Navruz - The New Year Festival across Uzbekistan and Our Silk Road Destinations


The celebration of Navruz is one of the oldest and most colorful in Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Persia and other Silk Road destinations and it's celebrated by more than 300 million people worldwide. New Year's here is on March 21st, the spring equinox, when daylight and darkness are of equal length. Navruz or Norouz comes from the Farsi language and means new year, or new day. Like most spring festivals, it's associated with the rebirth of nature, new hopes, forgiveness, joy and peace. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21st as the International Day of Navruz.

I admit that it's my favorite holiday back home in Uzbekistan. It's always been our biggest family celebration. The festivals, ceremonies and merrymaking in the country can last up to two weeks! Over the years I have taken many travelers to Uzbekistan for Navruz to experience this exuberant, exciting holiday and to explore the ancient Silk Road cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara.

Before the official holiday, residents take part in khashars in their neighborhoods. These events bring neighbors together for cleaning, garden planting, and other community volunteer efforts. Children go around to neighbors with bunches of tulips or snowdrops. Cities, towns and villages are lavishly decorated. On the day of Navruz we prepare flower garlands, decorate tables with delicious traditional foods and welcome relatives, neighbors and friends. We dress in traditional clothing and go visiting other family members, exchange gifts, and participate in the local Navruz festivities and concerts, shop the crafts exhibitions, and watch sports competitions like wrestling kurash, kupkari polo, and horse races. There are music and dance performances, and traditional puppet shows and tightrope walking displays.

There's plenty of fabulous Uzbek cuisine to enjoy; plov rice, dumplings, khalisa meat stew, green savory somsa pastries with spinach and herbs, kebabs and of course sumalak. Legend tells of 30 angels who visited a poor mother one night and left a pot of this heavenly tasting sweet "porridge" made from wheat grass. They were even seen licking their fingers! It's strictly a Navruz specialty, cooked for hours overnight. I once had the opportunity to help cook sumalak over a traditional wood fire in my parents' garden with some of the other women of our community. All the women of a neighborhood will come together around a huge pot, singing songs and taking turns to stir the sumalak so that it doesn't stick to the bottom! When it's ready in the morning they offer it to relatives, neighbors and guests. You should always make a wish when tasting the sumalak. Another festive porridge, halisa or khalim, is made from flour, sprouted wheat and meat and is cooked by the men.

During Central Asia Navruz tours our travelers visit different regions of Uzbekistan. They get the chance to participate in cooking festive dishes and enjoy the local traditions and customs. The Uzbek people are warm and welcoming, so bring your dancing shoes! If there's a celebration, then there will be dancing. Every visitor in Uzbekistan is an honored guest and invited to join the fun at concerts, performances and parties everywhere!

We would like to wish all of you a Happy Navruz, a New Year filled with new hope, happiness and success, and. Visit this link for our 2022 Uzbekistan Navruz Tour.
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