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    Religion, Art, Kulture
The spread of Islam in the Kyrgyz environment is tightly connected with its ethnic history of the IX-XII century. The confession of Islam among the Kyrgyz people became more active during Kokand Khanat. In the most important strategic places they built strengthening and as a rule mosques inside, where Kokand mullahs settled down. But the role of the mosque in the religious life was limited, as it was built up in the strengthening that Kyrgyz tried to escape. Islam's ideology propagation from the Kokand side and then from Russian authorities didn't reach the desirable results. From five so-called "pillars of Muslim religion", they celebrated only Muslim holidays that also interlaced the early religion remainders. So, after a thirty-fife-day fast they celebrated "Orozo Ait" praying for the spirit of ancestor and dead. In their honor they baked borsoks, lit candles (sham), read Koran. "Kurman Ait" was celebrated as the holiday for alive and was accompanied with sacrifice. Along with Islam, and sometimes mixed with it, the preislam traditions existed. One of the tribes in Northern Kyrgyzstan is called "bugu"(deer), a number of superstition legends evidence of the totem deer reverence by Kyrgyz. This can be connected with widely spread superstitions of eagle, wolf and mountain goat reverence. Apart from this there was zoroastrical animal worship. The object of warship was a white young of camel, snake, eagle owl and a bear. In the religious conceptions of the Kyrgyz people, the important place was given the to nature cult, and the most ancient among them - heaven. Being in difficult situation, Kyrgyz appealed to the sky with the words: "Heaven help me". When blessing young or to gratify - "Heaven bless you ". They also connected sky with damnation "Heaven curse you". In the nature cult great attention was given to the earth and water warship, as they are the bearers of the life origin. One of the most ancient rituals was "Jer-suutau", when the Kyrgyz people sacrificed animals for the deity. In the premuslim system of conceptions one of the most important was ancestors cult. Ancestors' spirits protected alive and guarded them from various troubles. Shamanism and connected with it concepts and ways of treatment were very important in the Kyrgyz philosophy. The shamans were black and white. The most powerful were black ones. Their main function was to treat "nervous" diseases and soothsaying. They "treated" and "prophesied" with the help of evil spirits. The shaman spirit considered to be inherited. Premuslim beliefs happened to be more stable than Islam. Nowadays, when the prices for treatments are very high and it's difficult to find a good doctor in the village, more and more common people use the modern sorcerer's services. Almost in all markets you can meet shamans offering their services (fortune telling, amulet production and treatment). A lot of family traditions tightly interlaced with the religious-magic rituals. So, when the child was born, along with "Jetibek toi" (birthday feast), "Tushoo kesuu" (hobble cut in the first child's anniversary), when parents organized celebration with entertaining and jolly games there also were rituals dealt with supernatural powers beliefs. For example, when putting to cradle ("Beshikke saluu") and cutting child's hair ("Chach aldyruu). One of the most important family event was wedding. It included kalym payment, various clothes exchange between the bride's parents, expensive dowry, farewell wailing, and animal sacrifice for the couple. We can also call the New Year holiday "Nooruz" - that is on the 21 of March - the traditional holiday of the past.
    National games
Oodarysh is a national game. Fight on horses that demands strength and adroitness combined with the skillful horse control. The goal is to drag down from horse his opponent. One of the most favorite among the Kyrgyz people sport is horse race, as they are natural horsemen. The competitions are held at a 50 meters distance. The riders sometimes were 10 - 13 year old boys, without a saddle. The racers should be fast and hardy and the rider - has skillful control. Kyz-Kuumai (catch the girl). In past times this game was a wedding ritual. Its participants were the bride, the bridegroom and a sister in law - jene that tried to help the girl to escape from the bridegroom. The bride and bridegroom's friends also took part in the game. According to the rules the bride was given the best horse and she began racing first, having the additional 20 meters distance. The bridegroom had to catch the girl and kiss her or touch her with his hat at tilt. Thus, he proved his love and secured the right to marry her. Due to worse horse the bridegroom sometimes failed to catch up the girl. The wrestling between riders for a goat carcass (Ulak Tyrtysh, Kok Beru) - is a very popular Central Asian horse game. The words kok beru mean "grey wolf". The game's history goes back to the distant past, it was originated when the herds of cattle grazed all year round in the steppes and people suffered from wolves those attacked cattle. Due to the lack of firearms, the cattle-breeders couldn't deal with the wolf just in the act. Steadfast jigits (horse riders) on fast and hardy horses chased the wolf to death, beat it with sticks and kamchas (lash), picked it up from the ground taking it away from each other. Later, leading more settled way of life, people replaced "kok beru" by "ulak tartysh" - wrestling for a goat's carcass. There are 2 teams of 2-4 people in the game. The playing ground is 200x150 meters. The opposite sides are marked with flags (10 meters) and are called "the gates". In the center of the playing ground a 6-meters in diameter circle is placed, where before the competition they put a goat's carcass weighting 30-40 kg, without a head and limbs cut to the wrists (ulak). With the signal, the team captains ride to the center and begin wrestling for the goat's carcass. As soon as the ulak is picked up, the rest members of the teams begin to participate in wrestling. The winner of this game is the team that threw ulak into the opponent's gates more times.
Wrestling on horseback for a goats carcass A very widespread game of the Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tadjik, Uzbek and Kara-Kalpak peoples. The words "kok-boru" mean "grey wolf. The origin of this original game is very ancient. There are good reasons for believing that it originated in those remote times when herds of cattle graized in the steppes and mountains all year round without a shelter or top dressing exposed to the attacks of wolves. Having no firearms the shepherds could not deal with wolves on the spot. Brave djigits chased after the wolves until the beasts of pray ran off their feet, then began beating them with slicks and lashes, trying to snatch them away from each other. Later "kok-boru" was replaced by "ulak tartysh''. At present time this game is played on green meadows of high mountain pastures as well as on racecourses. To seize a goats carcass in the centre of the field and deliver it into the gates of the contesting team is the objective of the game.
Wrestling on horseback It is one of the most popular game. Two riders try to pull each other off the horseback. It is allowed to throw the rival together with his horse. The time given for wrestling is 10 minutes. The rider who manages to pull the rival off his horse or throw him down together with the horse wins the competition. The rules allow the player to seize the rival by his sash or arms, by his torso, to press his knees or feet against the trunk of the rival's horse.
Picking up coins from the ground while galloping Each contestant is allowed to make three heats. The athlete who picks the coin off the largest number of times wins the game.
Chasing after the bride In bygone days the game was a part of the wedding ritual. The bride, the bridegroom and a sister-in-law - with the friends took part in the game. The bride did her best to gallop away from her fiance, the sister-in-law assisted her in this. The bride w''as given the best racer and she entitled to begin the races, so the bridegroom was given a handicap in distance. The bridegroom set out in pursuit, he had to catch up with her in this way proving his love for her and his right to marry her. Being at a disadvantage the bridegroom sometimes failed to catch up the girl. Yet she did not reject him and the wedding was not abrogated. Following the tradition the man rider is given a 20 meters handicap. The young man has to catch up with the girl and kiss her while galloping or at least touch her with his headdress. Galloping back it is the girl who chases the young man and in case she catches him up she takes off his headdress. This is regarded as the sign of her victory.
    Central Asian literature
has traditionally been popularised in the form of songs, poems and stories by itinerant minstrels, called akyn. But the Kyrgyz are also associated with something rather more complex - an entire cycle of oral legends, 20 times longer than the Odyssey, about a hero-of-heroes called Manas. The stories are part of a wider, older tradition, but have come to be associated with the Kyrgyz people and culture partly because Soviet scholars 'gave' Manas to them in efforts to create separate cultures for the various Central Asian peoples. Although the oral tradition is pretty much dead, Manas is still a figure for the Kyrgyz to hang their dreams on. Kyrgyzstan has two well-known living authors - Chinghiz Aitmatov and Kazat Akmatov.
    Central Asian food
resembles that of the Middle East or the Mediterranean in its use of rice, savoury seasonings, vegetables and legumes, yoghurt and grilled meats. The food eaten in Kyrgyzstan has developed from the subsistence diet of the nomads - mainly meat (including entrails), milk products and bread. Kyrgyz cuisine is not particularly subtle - a bland meal of meat and potatoes may be livened up with a spicy side dish likely to burn a hole in your mouth. Tea is ubiquitous, usually served without milk. Despite their Muslim heritage, most Kyrgyz drink alcohol, at least with guests. If you don't enjoy hard booze (commonly vodka), make your excuses early. You may come across kumys, fermented mare's milk, a mildly alcoholic drink available only in spring and summer when mares are foaling. Bozo, a thick, yeasty concoction made from fermented millet, is available year-round.
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