Credit: Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation asbl

Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation asbl (KazLux) recently held a week-long "Nauryz" celebration in the Grand Duchy.

The springtime celebration of Nauryz was the non-profit's first event when it was founded in 2019. As KazLux Co-Presidents Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui told, this holiday is not associated with a sole country or ethnicity nor is it linked to any historical data; instead, the festivity is "a pure expression of appreciation of the nature, its cycles and celebration of life". Nauryz is common for many ethnicities now living in Luxembourg and has "every reason to become a uniting festivity for all".

In this context, KazLux organised a week of Nauryz celebrations last month with the main event being the "Welcome Spring!" concert at Philharmonie Luxembourg on 22 March 2023. The concert featured Kazakh traditional musical ensemble Saryarka of Astana Philharmonic. Under the direction of Togzhan Zhakhin, the musicians brought the sounds of the Great Steppes to the Philharmonie stage via music ranging from the 7th century to contemporary pieces. Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui described traditional singers Ozgeris Sherikbai and Jaksykeldy Mayasarov as "the pearls of the concert", with the former having performed the more than 100-year-old song "Samaltau". Moreover, Yerzhan Toxabanov played the Dombra and there was a colourful performance by dancing ensemble "Shalkyma", led by Indira Gabdrakhmanova.

Nauryz takes place on 21-22 March when the day of the spring equinox marks the "New Day" and the renewal of nature. The entire month of March is called "Nauryz" in Kazakh, thus illustrating its importance. As Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui explained, it "corresponds to pastoral nomadic way of life when people adapted to nature and never subjugated it". In Kazakh, it is also named "The Great Day of Ulus (of People)", an invariable part of the ancient Tanir (Tengri) calendar. "The twelve-year Tanir calendar is the beginning of the nomadic civilisation and it was a means of regulating and customizing all spheres of life," elaborated Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui.

The KazLux President added that for 70 years, during the Soviet regime, it was forbidden to celebrate Nauryz. "Few generations grew up without knowledge of the custom which always existed and had never been missed before," she said. "When in the late 1980s Nauryz was revived, it sprang with wonderful power, like a beautiful memory impatiently waiting to be restored. That is the power of the real festivity stemming from the cycle and rhythm of nature."

Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui elaborated: "Nauryz is the beautiful occasion when people go outside, welcome each other, visit their families and friends, pay a respect to elder people, share gifts, meals and joy." She noted that today people celebrate the holiday with yurts raised on squares and in neighbourhoods, as well as songs, dances and national traditional games that span weeks. "The main food of the celebration prepared only during this time is Nauryz Kozhe. It consists of seven ingredients, each conveying a message of good intention and will."

During the week of Nauryz this year, KazLux also organised "Kazakh Days: Nauryz celebration with Friends" in the Cloche d'Or shopping centre, with various Kazakh stands and musical performances. The non-profit is hoping to "make this format of Nauryz celebration a tradition and invites all associations, especially celebrating Nauryz to join the festivity next year."

That same week, KazLux, with the support of Luxembourg's Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region, launched the first session of a new platform in Luxembourg called "The Roots". "'The Roots' is crafted it in the form of a patchwork, parts of it are independent from each other, but in combination giving completeness to the whole," explained Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui.

The mission of KazLux is to become a bridge between Kazakhstan and Luxembourg, between Central Asia and Europe. The non-profit regularly organises the networking and social event "Apero with Kazakhs". Other past events included screenings of Kazakh films in Luxembourg.