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Kazakh customs associated with the birth of a child

Published: 14 december 2012

There are many wonderful and wise traditions in Kazakhstan. From early years the nomads have been keeping the human life, guided by the signs of Great Steppe. Every generation, not depending on the epoch and conditions, in which it lived, performed the instructions of remote ancestors. In Kazakhstan people treat the traditions seriously.
So, the customs connecting to child’s birth in the Kazakh family have old roots. Some customs in a rather changed view remained till our days.
Naming a child
When a baby is born in a young family, grandmother, grandfather or the eldest relative gives the name to a child. He or she bends forward the child and three times utters: Your name…!
When the child is several days, he or she is put to the cradle, which is presented by mother’s relative. She is trusted for the first time to lay the child. At first she exorcizes the devils over the cradle with the help of the candle. Then she makes the bed. Then she swaddles the child and bents the child in three places with special ribbons. Then she covers the child with a shapan (head dress), coat in order the child become a good rider, fixes tumar (talisman) in order not to bewitch, ties the nails of golden eagle in order to have an eagle eye.
Child is 40 days
This day the adults bathe the child in the sink with coins and rings. The eldest woman pours 40 spoons of water on the child and says: “Let your backbone be strong, let your ribs get stronger”. Then women who bathe the child take rings and coins. This day the cut hair is put into the small duster and sewed on the shoulder of the clothes. And the nails are buried in the secret place, where nobody walks. Sweets are packed in the shirt of the child, then the shirt is tied to the dog’s neck and it is left. The children run down the dog, untie the shirt and divide sweets between each other.
Cutting fetters
The child who just taught to walk is tied the feet with the striped cord. A man with a nice walk and kind soul cut this cord. It is done so that the child adopts for himself these qualities.
Initiation into the riders
When the boy is 405 years he is initiated into the rider. The special wooden saddle (ashamay-er) is made for him. The most easy-tempered three-year-old foal is selected, and the boy is seated on it. Father leads the horse around the village, and the boy welcomes all people. Women throw shasha (gifts and sweets). Having overridden his first horse, the boy can consider himself a man.
Circumcision (Sundet toy)
This ritual firstly appeared in the Arab countries, and then it was spread in all Muslim countries. Circumcision is made, when the boy is 5-7 or 9 years, usually in spring or autumn. Sundet toy is an important and joy event in the boy’s life. The most close relatives and friends are invited to this festival. Various competitions and games are held. The circumcised boy is presented gifts and sweets.
Initiation into education
When the child is 7 years, he enters school. This is a great and joy event in child’s life. In honor of this holiday, his parents arrange toy (festival). The invited guests congratulate the parents, wish good luck to their child, and give presents. For this case parents cut the ram, and organize a great feast for the guests. Elders give their blessing to a child because he goes to school for the first time in his life.
Custom of age determining
Kozy jasy (lamb’s age 10-13 years). At 10 boys pasture lambs. That is why this age is the age of a lamb. Koy jasy (sheep’s age 13-20 years). After 13 boys are trusted to pasture sheep. Jylky jasy (horse’s age 25-40 years). At 25-40 horsemen pasture horses. Patsha jasy (tsar's age – 40 years). The Kazakh think that at this age a man can rule the people. Usually at this age courage, wisdom and eloquence, which are needed for a ruler, are fully distinguished.
Tokum kagu
When the boy learns to ride on his own, he leaves home for the first time. This day respectable people are invited. Guests play dombra, sing songs and play different games. This festival is held in honor of the first departure of the son and his successful arrival.









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