Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation co-founders Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui pictured with the Turkic Youth Ensemble from Budapest; Credit: Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation asbl

The Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation asbl celebrated “Nauryz” this year with a “Welcome Spring!” concert at Hotel Parc Belle-Vue in Luxembourg City on Saturday 30 March 2024.

As Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation co-founders and presidents Nurgul Tursinova and Halim Titsaoui explained to Chronicle.lu, Nauryz falls on 21-22 March, around the time when the Spring Equinox “marks the New Day and the renewal of nature”. “Not associated with a sole country, ethnicity, not linked to any historical data, Nauryz is a pure expression of celebration of life and festivity for all,” they added. “That is why for the last two years we have been promoting it in Luxembourg with the name ‘Welcome Spring!’

Commenting on the significance of Nauryz, particularly in the current global context, Nurgul and Halim noted that “unity and empathy are missing in the world now. That is the reason why [we wanted] this year’s celebration to be about unity, coming together, bringing our own roots but building one common thing.” This year’s concert thus featured not only Kazakh music, but also songs from Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Hungary.

Nurgul and Halim described the Turkic Youth Ensemble from Budapest, Hungary as “the perfect match” for the organisers' “idea of uniting people”. The core of the ensemble consists of musicians originally from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Hungary: Aibar Tangatov (dombra), Sevgin Huseynova (soloist), Baris Izcan (baglama) and Timi Janurik (sitra). “The beauty and complexity of this band is that they perform songs from different nations while playing their traditional musical instruments.”

The “Welcome Spring!” concert began with Kazakh traditional "five o'clock" tea / coffee and a dombra performance. The band opened the first part of the concert with the Nauryz song. This was followed by Kyrgyz, Azerbaijani, Hungarian and Turkish songs, including among others: “Sary Oi” (Kyrgyz), “Tavaszi Szel” (Hungarian), “Ay Lachin” (Azeri), “Uskudara” (Turkish) and “Dombra” (Nogai). The second part was dedicated mostly to popular songs by Kazakh composer Shamshi Kaldayakov (1930-1992), nicknamed “King of Kazakh waltz”. Among the performers at this event was Aibar Tangatov on dombra. His performance of “Aksak Kulan” (Lame Kulan), accompanied by a projection of a cartoon depicting the story, proved particularly popular among the children present.

Guests from different communities (Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Azerbaijani, Turkish, French, German...) joined the “Welcome Spring!” concert. Some of them were members of Kazakh communities in the Netherlands, Germany and France who had travelled over for the celebration. In total, close to 70 people, including children, were present.

We had many children at our celebration. Kazaks have treated kids like a treasure, as their main asset and main responsibility. Each stage of the child’s growth was celebrated,” Nurgul and Halim shared, adding that the recent Nauryz festivity also served to celebrate one such stage, “Tusay Keser” (cutting the hobbles), i.e. when a baby first walks or attempts to walk, for two babies within the Kazakh community.

Nurgul and Halim also noted that the organisers had to limit the number of attendees this year due to catering; guests could enjoy Kazakh and Central Asian food. On the menu was the Kazakh traditional dish “Nauryz Kozhe”, prepared once a year, as well as three types of “palau” (pilaf) made by members of the Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Azerbaijani diaspora. And, according to Nurgul and Halim, no Kazakh gathering would be complete without “Kazy” and the main dish “Et tamak” (meat boiled in a special way). For dessert, there were “Bauyrsak” (traditional Kazakh and Kyrgyz bread-doughnuts), “Samsa” (common to all Central Asian nations and beyond), “Chak-chak” and Tatar sweets, among others.

Next year, the Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation hopes to make its Nauryz celebration “even bigger”, with the involvement of wider communities in Luxembourg. “The focus will not be on Kazakhstan or Central Asia, but on developing a new tradition of celebration which will become common for everyone,” explained Nurgul and Halim.

The Kazakhstan-Luxembourg Cooperation co-founders concluded: “The month of March in Kazakh is called Nauryz, which shows how important Nauryz for us is. Nauryz corresponds to the past pastoral nomadic way of Kazakh life when people adapted to nature and never subjugated it. In Kazakh, we call it also The Great Day of Ulus (of People). The Great Day of Ulus is 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 customising all spheres of life. The Qazaq twelve-year cycle is called "mushel" and each year has an animal representing it. 2024 is a year of a Dragon. Happy Dragon Year to all!