FYI: Nauryz New Year

KUALA LUMPUR. April 15. KAZINFORM Malaysians are getting a better understanding of the culture and customs of the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, which celebrated its New Year, Nauryz, on March 21.

Kazakhstan ambassador to Malaysia Beibut B Atamkulov says Nauryz is one of the oldest festivals in the world, New Straits Times reports.

"It is celebrated as a spring holiday, the renewal of nature and the beginning of the year by many nations in Asia. According to some reports and the Eastern Slavs, Nauryz derives from the Iranian word which meant 'New Day'," he  says.

Atamkulov adds that in ancient chronology, Nauryz was a day that usually coincided with March 21 or 22, the day of vernal equinox.

He says even the United Nations had in 2010 adopted a resolution declaring March 21 as the International Day of Nauryz.

"We celebrate Nauryz as a national holiday for three days (March 21 to 23). Kazakhs call Nauryz the people's great day. The people believe that the more they celebrate Nauryz, the better off they will be in the coming year," he adds.

Kazakhstan Embassy counsellor Serik Bukebayev says due to this belief, his countrymen observes an abundance of holiday traditions and attributes.

"On the eve of the vernal equinox, Kazakhs will decorate their homes, pay off debts and forgive all offences," Bukebayev says.

He adds that on the eve of Nauryz, Kazakhs will fill containers with milk, corn and spring water as a sign of bountiful harvest and will pray for continued rain for their crops.

"People are generally in a mood to celebrate and wish each other glad tidings and a better life," he says.

Bukebayev adds that on the day, the women folk will prepare Nauryz kozhe, made using seven ingredients - water, meat, salt, fat, flour, cereals (rice, corn or wheat) and milk - which symbolise happiness, luck, wisdom, health, welfare, speed, growth and divine protection.

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