Customs and Traditions of Kazakhstan

Kazakh wedding based on old tradition dated several centuries back, when Kazakh people were nomads.

Steal the bride
This is the first step of Kazakh wedding. If one man loves some girl he steals her. Normally girl’s parents can not take their daughter back, because from the moment when she entered man’s house, she unofficially becomes his wife. From this moment both side parents will try to make a wedding as soon as possible.

Engagement cost and wedding date
During several days after stealing the bride, groom sends his parents to negotiate engagement cost and wedding date. In the villages all kind of home animals can be engagement cost. It includes: horses, sheep, cows and etc. In the modern cities engagement cost depending on the life level can be from US 300 $ up to US 1000 $.

If wedding in the village, from early morning on the day of wedding there are folklore entertainment: horse riding, “ulak”, “Kyz kuvdy”. The winner can get a nice woolen carpet or sheep. In the evening all guests come to groom’s house or yurta and take a part in wedding party. Normally in the villages (aul) with yurtas, people sit on the ground, on carpets made of sheep or camel wool and sing congratulation song to just-married . The wedding can goes on two-three days. In the cities wedding mostly taking place in the restaurant.

Main foods during wedding party in the villages are: “besbarmak” (piece of dough boiled in horse soup) with horse meat and onion, boiled mutton and camel meat. The beverage in the wedding is “kumys” (horse milk). In the cities to all above mentioned foods there added salads, cold snacks, cakes and alcoholic drinks.

In the villages young couple puts on national dresses – “chapan” (long decorated hitons) made of velvet and white woolen hats. In the cities preferable is European style.

In the country side best season is summer and beginning of autumn. In the cities any time is suitable.

Berkutchi, or “hunting with a golden eagle,” is a tradition that has been practiced for ten centuries. The Kazakh belief is that presenting a fledgling hunting bird to a boy is tantamount to wishing him to be a brave and strong young fellow.Training a golden eagle is a rare and painstaking art. The bird just caught (photo at left) is being slowly trained to its master (a berkutchi). The man training the bird doesn't sleep for several nights with the bird being subjected to similar discomfort. First, the bird must take food (pieces of raw meat) from its master's hand only. When the eagle gets used to the hunter, its horse and its dog, it undergoes the next phase of training: first it "hunts" stuffed foxes and only after mastering that will it then proceed with real hunting.

Customs of Hospitality

This is for food for aged people. They need special care. Tasty food is prepared for them: kazy, kumys, zhent, honey, etc. This food is prepared and given by children, neighbours, relatives. This custom is the example of care for parents and aged people.

Bes zhaksy
Five valuable things. «Bes zhaksy» was gifted to the most respected people. This contains: 1. Camel - «kara nar». 2. Swift — footed horse - «zhuyrik at». 3. Expensive carpet (Persian) - «kaly kelem». 4. Diamond sabre - «almas kylysh». 5. Sable top coat - «bukgyn ishik».

Korimdyk and baygazy
This is the gift that is given for the young wife, new born child, little camel that is seen for the first time. «Korimdyk» is from the word «koru» — to look, see. «Korimdyk» serves for expressing of good wishes of all relatives and friends. «Baygazy» and «Korimdyk» have the different meaning. «Korimdyk» is given for people or animals; «baygazy» for new thing or other subjects.

«Konakkade» (konak means guest; kade means gift). The owner of the house has the right to ask his guest to fulfill «Konakkade», for example to sing a song, etc. Kazakhs from the early age teach their children the eloquence, play different music instruments, to sing, to make poems. «Konakkade» is the test of a guest in arts, it is also the reason of merry celebration.

«Konakasy» (konak means guest, as means food). Kazakh people is famous for its hospitability. It is the sign of generosity to meet a guest with the honour. Kazakhs kept all the most tasty for the guest. Guests were divided to three types: «Arnaiy konak» is the specially invited guest, «kudaiy konak» is fortuitous guest, «kydyrma konak» is unexpected guest. A person that did not give «konakasy» was fined (the fine was a horse or camel).