Celebrating / visiting time: 15-30 March
First of all Navruz is International day. In September 2009 Navruz was included into the UNESCO representative list of a non-material cultural humanity heritage, and in the end of February 2010 the 64 session of UN General Assembly declared 21 March as «International day of Navruz». The culture of this holiday is based on the values, which constitute fundamental, spirituality of any nation. Just for this reason Navruz became the world, universal holiday on the planet.
Navruz Festival is one of the greatest national holidays of Persian nations, including Tajiks. The word Navruz consists of two roots – «nav» (nay, nav) new and «ruz» (ruch, ruz)- day, that means New Day. The population of the ancient Soghd called this day as «Nav Sart» (Navsart). Various nations pronounce the word Navruz differently: Novruz, Naviyz (Arabs), Navruz (Persians and Tajiks), Nauryz (Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs).
The Holiday takes place in the day of vernal equinox according to Solar calendar, which was composed by Iranian nations seven millenniums ago, long before the origin of Islam According to this calendar, the year started on 20-21 March, in the day of vernal equinox, when the nature revived, and the spring finally started. There is a legend, that even the First Man (Kayumars) was created just in the moment of equilibrium of the day and night.
Navruz is the most ancient New Year holiday on Earth, and its history amounts to 3-4 millenniums. Literary monuments state the legend that origin of Navruz is linked with legendary Persian padishah (king) Djamshed. His great grandfather, Persian king Kayumars, who is considered to be the First Ancestor of the whole humanity, gave names to the days, years and months. Having identified the day and the moment (morning), when the Sun enters the constellation of Aries, he ordered all the priests (mubadam) to start the calendar from this moment.
Different countries celebrate Navruz differently: in Iran - 13 days, in Tajikistan - 15 days. In the end of the holiday they go out to the open nature to join it, and it is called «sezdah ba dar» (thirteen day outside the home, in the nature). Navruz symbolizes revival, peace, merry and victory of kindness over the evil. It has extremely rich ceremony culture.
Navruz is the holiday of revival not only of the nature, but of Spirit as well. The ritual of commemoration of Siovush is observed even now, it is linked with old Tajik version of heathen cult. It reflects the seasonal calendar cycle of the life of plants, annually fading in the autumn, vanishing in winter and blossoming again in spring.
The revival spirit of Navruz culture mostly prominently is expressed in ancient custom, which was reported by Arabic speaking authors. Festal dastarhan for the king should have obligatory seven branches of seven fruit trees. The following tags were attached to the branches, as: «afzud» (increased, enriched), «afzun» (being increased, enriched), «afzoyad» (will increase, enrich), and so on.
In ancient times Navruz was divided into two types: national, universal Navruz, which was celebrated the first 5 days, and special Navruz, Navruz-i hosa, which in original manuscripts is also called Great Navruz Navruz-i buzurg. It starts on the 6th day and was celebrated very widely with luxury. In this day the king’s residence was open for receiving the gifts from citizens. By the end of this day, the imprisoned were released, the convicted were acquitted, and they also joined the celebrations.
The first thing to be done when it became warm «garmo», is «cleaning» of the house from everything which is «dirty», «heavy», and also they rooted out flowers from the greenhouses and planted into the ground, and were very happy. For 2-3 days before Navruz they swept the floor thoroughly, and cleaned homes and yards, even washed ceilings, cleaned carpets, felt mat, utensils, burnt unnecessary things. In many villages the manure, which was stored for winter, was took out to the fields as organic fertilizer.
The Holiday itself started when it was dark, the whole family put new clothes, and gathered at the table, which was called haft-sin. First a mirror was put on the table cloth, which reflected the past and the future, vessels with water and alive fish, which bring happiness; pomegranate or apple and some silver coins, sprayed all with pink water (gulabpash). The holiday table clothes han-i navruzi were decorated by the family with seven dishes, starting with the letter «s». Obligatory on the table there should be seven haft products, their names should start from Arabic letter «syn»: seeds of rue- sipand, apple - seb, black nuts - siyahdane, wild raspberry – sanjid, vinegar - sirke, garlic - sir and sprouted grain - sabzi. It is considered, that seven «syn»(s), have links with Zoroastrianism angels, which are called sipandon sudrason, which means «pure and healing, wholesome».
Long before the holiday starts, about two weeks prior, the wheat or lentils is sowed on the plates. Their green sprouts should reach 5-7 sm. before the Holiday and become the decoration of the table, the symbol of birth of new life, New Year. Magic seven products on the table become symbolic gift to the Son, which takes this gift, and should take care of rich yield harvest.
Quite opposite the table they set fire, switched lamp and put the vase full with red flowers and green branches of fruit trees, and also put the book «Avesta». After conversion to Islam they started to put on the holiday table cloth the book «Qoran» and until now in Tajikistan they adhere to this tradition.
Besides they burnt candles by the number of family members, they should not be blown down, they should burn to their end. The tables are decorated also with big holiday bread non, the bowl with water with green leave floating, the bowl with pink water, fruits, nuts, almond, fish, cock, milk, thick sour milk, cheese, painted eggs. In ancient time each of this ingredient had its special meaning for the future harvest, for destinies of family members. Now this symbolic meaning is lost, but the tradition remained.
In Central Asia none of the holidays can go without plov, which is cooked on Navruz. In addition gudja (in some nations halim, halisa) and sumalak (sumalyak, samanu) are indispensable decoration of the table. The process of their preparation is time and labour intensive, and takes the whole night starting from evening. Sumalak is prepared only by women, and gudji– by men. Gudji is cooked from seven types of cereals with adding meat, it is mixed until it gets as one mass, sometimes adding peas and vegetables. And sumalak is halavah, prepared from sprouted wheat, which is milled, and then boiled in cotton oil (some people cook in water) adding the flour. This dish gives people physical and spiritual strength, it very wholesome for health, as is rich in vitamins and amino acids.
For preparation of sumalak the women of big family gather round the huge pots, and in cities neighbors gather, they in turn they mix up the wheat to prevent from burning. This night the women gather, with stories, songs and even dances. In the morning sumalak is shared with everybody who participated in its cooking, they treat their relatives and acquaintances, carrying it in drinking bowls (pialah) from house to house. It is believed, that by the image, which will appear on the surface of sumalak, one can define what new year has in store from them.
Such celebration of Navruz took place in those houses, who adhered the tradition of sharing holiday gifts, kisses to cheek, etc. It is important, that some of these traditions still remained until nowadays. In some parts of Tajikistan in the night before Navruz, the neighbors share with each other treating, holiday gifts. Among Tajiks the tradition is widely spread to present gifts to children in holiday days. There is also a custom to visit each other as guests.
Navruz of farmers currently is very popular among Tajiks. As was mentioned earlier, annually on the 7 March in some villages of Tajikistan they celebrate the holiday of beginning of year and custom “juftbararan”. This day in the morning they start to clean ditches, to prepare them for receiving water. Then the whole population gets together in order to perform the ceremony “juftbararan” or “sari jufti” or Navruz of farmers. The most experienced farmer in elderly age collects some wheat grains into the hem of his coat, and then having prayed on increasing the harvests “yak dona hazory az hazor beshumor”, with blessing from those who are present throws them to the earth. Others, following up, bring a pair of bulls to the field and make the first furrow with songs and dances on Navruz day.
Such activity is called by Tajiks as “juft kardan”, and the ceremony itself is called –“juftbararan”. With performance of this ceremony the sowing spring season starts, and the person who was the first who sew wheat is called Bobo Dehkon, “Baba-i dehgon” Since that time Bobo Dehkon becomes the leader of Navruz. This ritual is rather popular and widely recognized in Tajikistan.
In some Pamir places, where they have little cropping land, they considered sacred some home animals, and in the first day of Navruz celebration, they brought a donkey to home, after it the host of house stepped over the threshold, and by this he lifts up the ban for entering the house for all family members. Neither donkey nor bull, whose image was associated with fertility, were sacrificed, never the less, the fact that they were brought into the house and were poured by flour reminds some victim, which may be in ancient time they sacrificed to the Spirits.
Navruz was people’s holiday. People made simple and unsophisticated craft ware, the whole population was involved in creating the craft ware –from craftsmen to simple ordinary people. They tried to prepare for long expected celebration the ancient images of animals and birds, forerunner of spring, by legend, they bring prosperity and wealth. On the eve on Navruz in Bukhara they manufactured statuettes from burnt mud and wood. They were purchased at once by local citizens. Such practice is preserved in Pamir, where women from model or shape animals from dough with the hope for rich harvest year and prosperity in the new year. In Karatag and Istravshan for holidays the potters manufactured the penny wistle hushtak from burnt mud in the form of birds, horses, sheep, fantastic animal (lion) or aspaki. In Karatag ritual figures sometimes were coated by green glaze or painted after baking in yellow color with red strips and spots on it, in Istravshan they were decorated with white paint with red, blue strips, spots. Very rare they remained even unburnt.
The reproduction of the certain images inside home was considered as magic way to attract the forces of kindness and God’s divine grace. In Khatlon on the walls they painted flowers, horn of the sheep or the branch of cypress, in Pamir women left the impress of their tight hand palm, besmeared with leguminous flour, on the central main post, which personified the God creator Murtazo Ali, and pronounced new year celebrations, set hopes for God’s trade.
The moment when Navruz comes is the most important in the annual cycle, that is why all ritual actions were performed during New Year celebration with special assiduity, they had important, and as considered, critical meaning. Before the New Year (holiday comes, early spring (about 10-15 March) when new flowers started to blossom 10-20 boys, aged 8-15 years visited houses. One of them carried a pole with the length a meter and a half, at the end of this pole the bunch of various spring flowers was fixed: snowdrops, iris, etc). Everyone was carrying flowers in their hands or the flowers were stuck behind ears. The boy, who carried the pole, stopped near every house of his neighborhood, sang songs, different in different regions of Tajikistan: «Gulgardoni-«Calling spring» in the southern parts of Tajikistan, «Boychechak» ‘snowdrops” in the northern parts of Tajikistan, «Hil Hil-i bulbul- Tender nightingale») in Shahrisabz, «Boikandak»- (Picked much flowers») in Zerafshan valley, «Bahor omad-«The spring came») – in Sary-Assiyo district of Uzbekistan, where Tajiks were living.
During Navruz days Tajiks arranged various games: wrestling, poiga – horses race, buzkashi - fight on houses for taking the goat carcass, the fights of animals - hurusjang -cockfight, budanajang-quail, fight, sagchangak - dogs fight and other games. In Ishkashim and Vahan young men played polo, in the plains they organized running in sacks.
The creativity, linked with a holiday of a vernal equinox, is not exhausted even until now in Tajikistan. These days here they recollect ancient symbols, images, trying to recreate the forgotten or disappearing signs of Navruz. Girls sew dresses for the holiday, combining together modern and traditional design of the dress. Demonstration of models take place in many stages in the regions of Tajikistan.
08:00 - starting of tour. Visit the Statue of Ismoili Somoni, Maydani Azadi (Freedom Square) in the Rudaki Avenue.
Admire a landmark of the capital city-Dushanbe at Statue of Ismoil Somoni, an impressive bronze statue of the national 10th century hero. The statues stands on a huge red marble stairway pedestal flanked by two cross-legged lions. Standing in front of a monumental arch topped by a large gilt crown, Ismail ibn Ahmed-founder of the Samanid dynasty who renounced Zoroastrianism, embraced Islam, and even gave name to national currency--holds a gold-leafed coat of arms of the country. Erected in 1999, this 25 m (82 ft) tall monument honors the 1,100 anniversary of the Samanid Empire. Climb the pedestal to get a nice view behind the monument.
National Library of Tajikistan
The National Library - located in Dushanbe, Tajikistan is the main library of the country, specializing in preserving cultural heritage of the peoples of the Republic of Tajikistan. While the original library state library in Dushanbe was founded in 1933 and named after Persian-Tajik author Ferdowsi, the new national library building opened in March, 2012 alongside its new official name. The new nine-story building features 15 reading halls as well as over 20 departments.
The STATE FLAG SQUARE is located in the center of Dushanbe, to the left of the Nation Palace. This Flagpole entered in the Guinness Book of records as the Highest Flagpole in the world. The height of the flagpole is 165 meters, area 1800 m2, width 30 meters and length 60 meters.
The Palace of the Nation (Tajik: Қасри Миллат, romanized: Qasri Millat; Russian: Дворец Нации) is the official residence of the President of Tajikistan. It is located on Shirinshoh Shohtemur Street in central Dushanbe. The Presidential Palace is surrounded by Dushanbe Flagpole to the north, Rudaki Park to the east, Independence Monument to the south and Varzob River to the west.
Park Navruzgoh build in 10 km square in the center of the Dushanbe in close of Dushanbe river. In Navruzgoh every year conducting more culture actions including Navruz festival with more cultural programs. This park every year involves thousands tourist for participating in the Navruz celebration. If the visit days coincidences to the last decade of March we will spend hall day in this object with participating in the Navruz festival.
18:00 - endinig of day
08:00 - breakfast in hotel; Dushanbe tour
The complex building begun in 2009 and completed in September 2014. From the very beginning the complex – “Kohi Navruz” was planned as the biggest national tea house in Central Asia, but in the process of building it turned into a real museum of national handicrafts of Tajik people. The whole territory of the complex including fountains, summer pavilions and garden – takes more than four hectares. Approximately four thousands of craftsmen from all parts of Tajikistan were involved in the process of building. Generally, the handicrafts of the complex are about forty thousand sq. m., they are: decorative wood carving of colon and ceilings, wall decorations: woodcarving, Florentine mosaic in colored mirrors, painted ceilings. Height of the biggest cupola is forty meters. The complex has seven lifts, including panorama elevator, bowling, billiard, movie theater 3D, night club, shop art gallery and a small national teahouse, but the most breathtaking side of the building is its halls.
National Museum of Tajikistan
The museum has a total area of 24 000 m2, of which over 15 000 m2 are exhibition halls. It is composed of four exhibition departments—Department of Natural History, Department of Ancient and Medieval History, Department of Modern and Contemporary History, and Department of Fine and Applied Arts. The National Museum of Tajikistan (Tajik. Osorkhonai Milli Tojikiston) is located in the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe.
The museum consists of 22 large and small exhibition halls. These are the exposition departments of nature, antiquity and the Middle Ages, modern and recent history, visual and applied arts.
The exposition area of the National Museum of Tajikistan is 15 thousand m². In 1934, the museum had a total of 530 exhibits. The new exposition of the National Museum of Tajikistan collected objects of material heritage, flora and fauna from all museums in the country. The number of exhibits exceeded 50,000
Walking tour through Rudaki Avenue. Rudaki Avenue runs from North to South in a roundabout kind of way, as it cuts through the heart of the city. The street is home to many government buildings responsible for the running of the country; it also has shops, city squares, universities, apartments and restaurants dotted along its path. The Avenue shaded by beautiful trees incorporates a central tree-lined boulevard perfect for cover on those hot summer days.
17:00 - end of day
08:00 - breakfast in hotel; travel to Hissar city, from Dushanbe
Hisor Fortress, Hisor Tajikistan
Hisor (Tajik: Ҳисор, Persian: حصار) is a city in western Tajikistan, about 15 km west of Dushanbe. The city was the seat of the former Hisor District, and is part of the Districts of Republican Subordination. It lies at an altitude of 799–824 m, surrounded by high mountains (Gissar Range to the north, Babatag and Aktau ranges to the south). The river Khanaka, a tributary to the Kofarnihon, flows through the town. Its population is estimated at 29,100 for the city proper and 308,100 for the city with the outlying communities (2020). As of 2002, its population was composed 81.6% of Tajiks, 12.3% Uzbeks, 3.6% Russians, and 2.5% others.
It was once an independent Khanate, and then the winter residence of the governor of East Bukhara. The large fort is said to date back to Cyrus the Great and to have been captured twenty one times.
Lunch time: 1 hour
Hisor HIstorical and Cultural Preserve
TEAHOUSE KHARBUZA is unique in the world, it was built in the form of a melon (the Taj: - kharbuza). The teahouse, with a height of 43 meters, length 100 meters, width of 55 meters, is designed to receive 2.3 thousand visitors at a time
17:00 - end of day, back way to Dushanbe
08:00 - breakfast in hotel. Travel to Bokhtar city, Khatlon region, south part of Tajikistan
Bokhtar (Tajik: Бохтар), previously known as Qurghonteppa or Kurganteppa, is a city in southwestern Tajikistan, which serves as the capital of the Khatlon region. Bokhtar is the largest city of southern Tajikistan, and is located 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Dushanbe.
In 1999, the museum Bibikhonum was organized by the decision of the city government, and its exposition is located in the city center in a building built on the site of an ancient city fortress. A round building with a tower in the middle is the architectural dominant of the city. The collections number about 1,600 exhibits on the history of the city of Kurgan-Tube and the culture of its inhabitants. Some of the exhibits were transferred from the Kurgan-Tube Regional Museum of Local Lore.
Lunch time: 1 hour and travel to Vakhsh district
Buddhist Monastery Ajina-Tepa
Ajina tepe (Tajik: Аҷинатеппа) is an ancient Buddhist cloister situated at a distance of 12 km east from the city of Bokhtar, Tajikistan. The site is being considered to be put on the World Heritage list of sites that have "outstanding universal value" to the world. Buddhism in Tokharistan is said to have enjoyed a revival under the Western Turks. Several monasteries dated to the 7th-8th centuries display beautiful Buddhist works of art, such as Kalai Kafirnigan, Ajina Tepe, Khisht Tepe or Kafyr Kala, around which Turkic nobility and populations followed Hinayana Buddhism. 13 meter-long sleeping Buddha (Buddha in Nirvana)
17:00- end of day, back way to Dushanbe
08:00 - breakfast in hotel. Travel to Khujand city, Sugd region, North part of Tajikistan
Khujand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, dating back about 2,500 years to the Persian Empire. Situated on the Syr Darya river at the mouth of the Fergana Valley, Khujand was a major city along the ancient Silk Road. After being captured by Alexander the Great in 329 BC, it was renamed Alexandria Eschate and has since been part of various empires in history, including the Umayyad Caliphate (8th century), the Mongol Empire (13th century) and the Russian empire (19th century). Today, the majority of its population are ethnic Tajiks and the city is close to the present borders of both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Lunch time: 1 hour
Khujand Fortress was founded in VI-V centuries BC. According to the data obtained by the North Tajik archaeological complex expedition (STAKE), Khujand Fortress was first surrounded by an embankment, later by a wall of considerable thickness of raw material. The city and the citadel-components of ancient Khujand, had separate fortress walls surrounded by a wide and deep moat filled with water. The remains of these fortifications were found under the Central part of the left Bank of Khujand and surround the territory of the ancient city with an area of 20 hectares.
Walking tour in Khujand central Park.
18:00 - end of day. Staying at Sugd Hotel or other suitable hotel in Khujand
08:00 - breakfast in hotel. Continue tour in Khujand, Sugd region
Visit the Arbob Cultural Palace
The Arbob Cultural Palace is a building in Khujand, Tajikistan. The centre was built in the 1950s under the leadership of Urukhojaev, the head of the collective farm. Urukhojaev was a significant Tajik who sat on Soviet committees and was well known in the area around Khujand and in Tajikistan generally. The building had particular significance in 1992, when it was the site for the meeting of the Tajik Soviet which officially declared independence from the Soviet Union. It was the site where the Tajik flag was chosen. More recently, in the late 1990s it was also the site where peace conferences following the Tajik civil war were held. In particular, Tajik President Emomalii Rahmon first came to prominence speaking at the Palace, and it was the site for a "plov of peace" which celebrated successful negotiations towards an agreed end to the Tajik civil war.
Lunch time: 1 hour
Panjshanbe Market, Sharq street Panjshanbe Bazaar
Covered market Panjshanbe is one of the most colorful sights of Khujand. Its name sounds similar to the name of the capital city – Dushanbe for a reason. Both names mean days of the week: Dushanbe – Monday, Panjshanbe – Thursday. They used to have trade on Mondays in Dushanbe, and on Thursdays in Khujand. Panjshanbe Market or, bazaar, is located in the center of Khujand, opposite Sheikh Muslihiddin mausoleum. The bazaar consists of the main pavilion and many stalls, tents and shops adjust to it. It is always noisy there since not only residents of the city but also neighboring villages flock there for shopping.
17:00 - end of day
08:00 - breakfast in hotel. Continue tour to Sugd region
Visiting Navruz festival in Khujand or other district of Sugd region
Visit Navruz celebration places in Khujand or in the districts around Khujand city as B.Ghafurov, Buston, Guliston.
Participation in Navruz festival and national tradition concerts.
18:00 - end of tour, way back to Khujand (hotel)
08:00 - breakfast in hotel and shoping
10:00 - end of tour, way back to Dushanbe