Uzbek traditions

The main features of the nature of the Uzbek family are hospitality and traditional respectfulness to elders. Uzbeks usually live in large families, consisting of several generations, so preference is given to large houses on the ground. Significant place in local hospitality is given to the tea ceremony. Moreover, it is exclusive honor for host to invite and please guest during the tea making ceremony. Invitations are normally always accepted for lunch or dinner and good sense of tone is to come on time for the party. When planning a visit, it is advisable to take souvenirs for the family inviting family members and some sweets for the children of the family. The arm greeting – handshaking is usually in use with men only. Women and the people sitting in the background are greeted by putting the right hand on the heart and accompanying gesture (slight inclination of the head). During the handshaking traditionally people ask about each other’s health, if everything is ok at work and at home. In rural areas, when there is a guest in the house, women usually do not sit at the same table with the men in order not to interfere in the conversation. During such tea ceremonies it’s advised not to admire the beauty of women and pay them much attention. When entering the house – room, it is advised to take off the shoes and take place indicated by host. The most honored place in Uzbek homes is the most distant seat from the entrance.

Ceremonies of the Uzbek people have been formed over the centuries, as a result of a complex process, merge of past and present cultures and traditions of the tribes and nations that participated in the ethno genesis of the Uzbek people. They are quite original, bright and diverse. A large number of ceremonies are related to family life and associated with the birth and upbringing of a child, weddings and funerals. A special role is played by rituals associated with the birth and upbringing of children (Beshik Tuyi, Khatna kilish), wedding (Fatiha Tuy, Weddings). Often they are the combination of Islamic rituals with more ancient forms related to mystical practices. With the Islam coming to the region, many family customs undergone its influence, and religious ceremonies come into the life of Uzbek people. Friday is considered as a holiday, which is celebrated by praying at mosques with other people together. Patriarchal attitudes continued its existence in society, which concentrated in mosques, teahouses and the markets, where mainly men participated.

Beshik Toyi

Uzbek Cradle-BeshikBeshik Toyi – a ritual solemnity related to the first put of the baby into the cradle. This is one of the most ancient and widespread ceremonies in Uzbekistan. Usually this event is held on the 7th, 9th, 11th day after the birth of the baby. In various areas of Uzbekistan, this ritual takes place in a different way scale of the event depends on the family’s income: rich families usually celebrate this event widely inviting neighbors and most of the relatives. Families with low income celebrate it moderately within the family. Beshik (“cradle”) and other necessary stuff such as baby table, clothes, toy and etc. for the baby are provided by the relatives of the baby from a mother side. Baby’s parents, grandparents prepare gifts. Richly decorated beshik and gifts are loaded into the vehicle together with the guests. With sounds of local musicians the vehicle goes to the house where baby is born. By tradition, delivered beshik is taken on the right shoulder by baby’s grandfather, and then passed to the right shoulder of his son, who then delivers it to baby’s mother. Guests are invited into the living room to the rich table. In the next room, in the presence of old women baby’s clothes are changed and put into the cradle. At the end of the ceremony, guests come to see the baby and to deliver presents. When ceremony is over, guests go home with full of good emotions, presents, wishing the best to the house and the hosts!

Khatna Qilish – Circumcision

Khatna Qilish is another ancient Uzbek ceremony adopted after accepting Islam (Sunnat Tuyi). This ceremony is held for boys at ages 3, 5, 7, 9 but nowadays this aging is not strict and one can do this ceremony when needed. This ceremony is also called “Sunnat”. Since the birth of a baby boy, parents begin preparation for the Sunnat Tuyi, gradually acquiring all necessary things. Few months before the ceremony which is often referred to as the “Celebration” (“Tui”), active preparations are started. Relatives and neighbors help sew quilts, prepare gifts. All this often ordered to the women with large family in terms of children. Prior to celebration, the Quran is recited in the presence of the elders of Mahalla (Neighborhood), imam of the mosque and relatives. Table is set and after the Quran is read elders bless the boy. During the celebration different gifts and presents are given to the child. In the past, it was customary to give the foal, on which the boy was seated. It as was a sign of a man – a warrior. On the same day, among the women held “Tahurar” – lying blankets and pillows on the chest, this ceremony is usually done by a respected woman. Lavish food including world famous “Palov” ends the ceremonial.

Fotiha-toy (Engagement)

In Uzbek families, marriage takes place with the permission and blessing of parents and carried out in several stages. When the son reaches a certain age, parents start looking for suitable girl for him. Close relatives, neighbors, friends of the family are involved in this process as well. After finding a girl, elder women of the family come to the girl’s house to meet with potential bride, her family and see the home. After that, usually women from the side of boy, do small conversation with neighbors and friends of girl’s family in the neighborhood to ask if the response and reputation of girl and family is good. In the case of positive feedbacks, it is turn for the matchmakers. One of the main ceremonies of the matchmakers is to establish the date for the “Fotiha Toy” (engagement). On this day, in the home of the girl, all close relatives and elder and respected elders from the Mahalla (neighborhood) are gathered. After the greetings and reveal of the visit purpose, the ceremony of “Non sindirish” (literally “breaking the bread”) takes place. From that moment the young couple is considered to be engaged. “Fatiha Toy” ends with appointment of the wedding date. Each guest is given tablecloth with breads cakes, sweets, and presents from the girl’s side to the family of the boy. On the return from the girl’s house back to boy’s house, everybody is enjoying trying sweets and cookies brought from the home of girl. This is the end of engagement ceremony. After the “Fatiha Toy” and before the wedding the parents of young couple discuss together and resolve all issues related to the wedding ceremony. A few days before the wedding ceremony another small ceremony is held in girl’s house called “Qiz oshi” (girls party), where close friend of girl and relatives participate.


Wedding ceremony in the tradition in the life of Uzbek people and celebrated with particular splendor. While having similarities it is different in different areas of Uzbekistan. The highlight of the wedding ceremony is move of the bride from her parents’ house to the house of bridegroom. On the wedding day in the house of the girl wedding palov is arranged, usually ingredients are sent by the side of bridegroom. Same wedding palov is arranged in the bridegroom’s house. On the wedding day Imam reads “Hutbai nikoh” (Prayer of the marriage), after which the young couple is declared as a husband and wife in front of the God (Allah). Imam explains the rights and duties for both husband and wife. Usually after the “nikoh” young couple goes to the registry office to register their civil marriage. On the day of the wedding the brides wear “Sarpo” (clothes and shoes, given as a gift for the wedding), and then the bridegroom goes to the girls’ house to greet her parents and take the bride with himself. Before sending bride to the house of bridegroom, there is a farewell ceremony of girl with her parents. Girl is always accompanied with her close friends. They sing a song (“Ulanlar” and “Yor-Yor” classic and still loved songs of wedding). Upon arrival of the bride into the house of boy or the place where wedding is arranged, the wedding party starts. After the wedding, the bridegroom escorting the girl to the room prepared for the young couple and leave for a while, giving some time for the girl to refresh, take a tea and change the dressing. In the room, girl is met by “Yanga” (usually close relative woman to the bride), after, bride changes her dresses, she is preparing to meet the bridegroom, staying behind the curtain -“gushanga”. Later, the bridegroom accompanied with few friends, return to the room. Too see the bride, bridegroom should symbolically purchase her from “yanga”, where joyful trade starts. After, the bride and groom are left alone for the night. Next day, early from the morning “Kelin Salom” (greeting the bride) ceremony starts. During the ceremony, which is normally hold in the yard of the house, all close relatives from the side of bridegroom come to greed the bride starting from bridegroom’s parents and ending with friends of the bride and the nearest neighbors. During the ceremony are expressed best wishes to the bride and given gifts and blessings. The bride is obliged to greet everyone, bowing lowly. Thus ends the celebration and long and happy family life begins in Uzbeks!

Morning Osh Palov

Ceremony of the morning palov usually held during the wedding and memorial services, other holidays like birth of child or anniversaries. Normally, host of the palov, after discussion with close relative and community, fix the date of palov long beforehand and send invitations. The day before the actual palov, in the house of the host family, preparations starts for the palov, including clearing and preparing of all necessary ingredients for the palov, and other food on the table. Normally all close relative and friends of the family taking part in this process. After preparations ended, all guests are invited for the dinner. Usually artists are also invited for “Sabzi Tograr”. Also, during the “Sabzi tograr” elders are distributing the tasks among youngsters for tomorrow’s palov. Morning feasting should be ready by the time when morning pray ends and first guests are arrived. Normally, in the summer time, it is about 4-5 am and in winter about 6-7 am. During the palov, Uzbek musical instruments like “Karnay” and “Surnay” “Doira” and “Nogora” played to please the guests and announce the celebration. Guests get comfortable around the tables and after blessing the hosts and good wishes, tea and famous Uzbek hot breads served. Palov is served in “lagans” (big plate) – one plate for two guests. After meal is finished, lagans are taken off and guests again make wishes and blessing of the host and leave. After, tables refreshed quickly for the new guests. Morning palov usually lasts no more than one and a half to two hours. During the feast artists are performing for the guests with classic songs. In morning palov, for honorable guests gifts are given – usually these are “Chapan” (traditional men’s robes) which is another tradition of hospitable Uzbek people. Memorial palov is a bit different from the holiday palov. In this case, guests are reading the verses from Quran and remember with good words of deceased person, presenting condolences to the family of the deceased person. After palov, again they read the verses from Quran and leave. There are no artist invited for such ceremonies and tables are more modest. It is interesting to note that in both holiday and funeral palov, only men participating.

Mahalla – The Neighborhood

To the traditional forms of social relations in Uzbekistan belongs first of all “Mahalla” – the neighborhood community. Uzbek “Mahalla” has rich and ancient history and is the center of family and religious ceremonies and festivals. Here in “Mahalla” carefully preserved and passed on from one to next generation their holding rituals. Usually, there is a local mosque in each “Mahalla”. It is still alive old tradition of mutual aid – “Hashar”. With this aid “Khashar” community helps build the houses for the inhabitants of local “Mahalla”, improving their district, street, city and etc. In sovereign Uzbekistan “Mahalla” has become the keeper of cultural and moral traditions of the Uzbek people, recognized as self-government mechanism. Today “Mahalla” is a territorial association of families with a goal to co-operation and mutual help in whole territory of Uzbekistan both old districts with old and traditional houses and new parts of cities with high-rise buildings. In “Mahalla” live in peace and harmony people of different nationalities. Network of more than 10,000 “Mahallas” covers the entire territory of the country and are an important element in the strengthening of civil society. The entire population of Uzbekistan will recognize them as an effective form of social life.