Wedding plays a significant role in the lives of the Uzbeks and is celebrated with solemnity. From the birth of their first child, families save money throughout the lifetime for one big event- wedding and many of its pre and post rituals. Attending one Uzbek wedding, will reveal the insights of societal and family values, the lifestyle and the history of generations. If you look even deeper you will see how these rituals and customs are reflected in everyday lives of Uzbek people and their significance in identifying a status of a woman in a new family and her future.
1. One of the pre-wedding events is engagement ceremony – “Fatiha tuy” when groom’s side comes to the house of the girl who has been proposed to. After guests tell the purpose of their visit “Non sindirish” ( “Breaking of a scone”) is being performed and the day of marriage is fixed. From this moment young people are engaged.
Historical Background: Uzbeks are famous for its bread or “Non” or “Lepyoshka” which is prominent part of Uzbek cuisine. It is said that first baking of bread started 12,000 years ago! Lepyoshkas are mentioned in one of the world’s oldest written works, “Eros about Gylgamesh”, the legendary ruler of the Sumerians, who lived almost 5000 years ago. Lepyoshkas are baked in special clay ovens called “Tandir”.
Uzbek bread is also a sign of well-being. In traditionally rural areas, the first thing people bring with them as a gift is “Non”. When leaving, the host won’t say goodbye without giving them another bread.
Have you heard anything about “Non” before? Does bread in your culture have same significance?
2. The main point of Uzbek wedding rituals is the movement of the bride to the house of the man. On the day of the wedding, the groom goes to pick up the bride from her home with his best man, relatives, and friends. This movement is accompanied by dancers and musicians that play on Karnay ( long instrument) and Doira (wooden rim).
Did you know that Karnay was a military signal instrument during Middle Ages?
-One of the miniatures dating back to 1430 and decorating the manuscript “Shakhname” by Firdousi depicts a battle scene where together with warriors in front line there are drum-players and musicians trumpeting the long karnays.
3. The bride’s family meets the guests with a festive table, offering “Plov,” or “pilaf” a traditional meal of the Uzbek nation. One of the earliest literary references to this dish can be found in the histories of Alexander the Great when describing Bactria (currently parts of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan). It is believed that soldiers from Alexander the Great’s army spread it throughout the Balkans.
Have you heard of “Plov or Pilaf”? Would you like to try it? Have you ever thought about the historical background of meals you eat at home? Can you think of a traditional meal of your home country? What does it say about your own culture?
4. After eating at a festive table, a groom does not simply get to take his bride to the rest of wedding ceremonies. His friends and him must first “bribe” her friends with money and then finally break in to her bedroom.
Notice that the best man holds the wedding bouquet in his hands, only after the groom finally gets an access to his bride, the bouquet is given to her. Is it the same way in your culture?
What can this picture tell you about Uzbek culture?
5. When the groom and bride get to the place of their wedding celebration of usually 200-300 people which is not a big wedding by Uzbek standards, the very moment the bride steps out the car, the groom lightly presses on her foot with his. This tradition dates to many years ago and its original meaning was a sign of a respect to her future husband and still practiced today.
What was your first thought when you saw this picture? Do you know any other countries or cultures where this ritual is practiced?
6. During the wedding, bride and her maid of honor, groom and his best man sit together throughout entire wedding. A bride can never leave her seat without a female next to her and same for the groom. Their “helpers” are there for them not only as someone who can fix your dress or suit but also as their “body guards”. Throughout the wedding guests come to congratulate newly married couple, take pictures, and give them personal presents.
What is your first impression of this photo? Do wedding that you have been to, have something in common with this one? Do you see familiar cuisine at your own countries’ weddings?
7. Early in the morning, next day after the wedding, a custom called “Kelin salom” (Welcoming the bride) is started. The parents of the bride and groom, all close relatives and friends and neighbours get together before the ceremony starts. The bride dressed in a traditional dress of Uzbek patterns must greet each one with a deep bow three times (to all sides) and in response she receives gifts, blessings, and best wishes for the future.
Have you heard of this tradition before? What do you think of it? Can you think of familiar traditions in your own culture?