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Cultural assertion

The Uzbek model

 

Uzbekistan has led the way in Central Asia in reclaiming the rich and diverse national heritage that had been kept on a tight leash during the Soviet era
SALIKH R. INAGAMOV, CAREER DIPLOMAT FROM UZBEKISTAN AND AN AUTHORITY ON CULTURAL REVIVAL IN CENTRAL ASIA | Issue Dated: December 4, 2011, New Delhi
Tags : ussr | usa | second worl war | soviet union | geopolitical hegemony | TSI | 20 years since soviet union |
 

No nation can survive unless it preserves its language, religion, culture, traditions and literature. Understanding of this factor has been at the core of Uzbekistan’s cultural policy over the years of Independence. Uzbekistan, with its magnificent ancient cities like Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent and Khiva and unique culture, customs and traditions as well as strong yet tolerant religiousness, has always been considered the cultural, religious and spiritual centre of Central Asia. It was so even in the era of the Soviet Union, which hardly tolerated anything related to national uniqueness or religion. The Uzbek language formally gained the status of state language on October 21, 1989 while the Soviet Union still existed but was seriously ill. This kicked off an irreversible process of cultural, religious and spiritual revival in Uzbekistan.


After Independence, Uzbekistan started opening itself to the world from which it had been isolated for centuries. This process included not only pursuing independent domestic and foreign policy, but also reviving once banned customs and traditions, spiritual and religious values, and the names of great ancestors – scientists, writers and statesmen. It allowed Uzbekistan to declare such holidays as Ramazon Hayit (Eid-al-Fitr), Qurbon Hayit (Eid-al-Adha) and Navruz as state holidays. Suddenly, Uzbeks could observe religious rites with no fear of persecution by the authorities. Moreover, they could now make a Hajj or Umra pilgrimage which was out of the question in Soviet times.


The names of great ancestors of the Uzbek nation – Amir Temur, theologians Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Tirmizi, Sufi leader, thinker and theologian Bakhouddin Naqshband, Akhmad Yassaviy, Al-Khorezmi, scientist Al-Ferghani and Abu Ali Ibn Sina, poet and statesman Alisher Navoi, ruler and poet Zakhiriddin Mukhammad Babur, ruler and astronomer Mirzo Ulugbek and many others were rehabilitated and became known to the world. Many of their works have been translated into different languages and published, thus contributing to the enrichment of knowledge on historical heritage.


On the occasion of 660th anniversary of Amir Temur, the year 1996 was declared as the Year of Amir Temur and cultural events dedicated to him were held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and other 50 countries. The monument of Amir Temur was unveiled in Samarkand.


In 1993, another monument was installed in the very heart of Tashkent thus becoming the symbol of the country’s independence. Wide celebration of anniversaries of great ancestors of Uzbek people has become a tradition.


Among many other important events was the memorable moment when the capital Tashkent was declared the Capital of Islamic Culture by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) in 2007.


Post-independence, thousands of historical places, monuments and mausoleums throughout the country have been renovated and restored.

Now many of them have turned into the places of pilgrimage and attract tourists as well as scientists and theologians from all over the world.


The years not only saw the revival of national consciousness but active development and promotion of national culture and art, which have always been diverse and yet unique. This has been based on the understanding that culture plays a crucial role in shaping the minds of the people, nurturing national consciousness and moral values, as well as promoting the newly independent country in the global arena.


With this view, Uzbekistan has carried out enormous work which resulted in the burst of interest to Uzbek music and dance in the world. Uzbek musicians, singers and dancers began performing in the most prestigious festivals and concert halls.


As a result of this extensive work “Sharq Taronalari” (Melodies of the Orient) international music festival came into being in 1997 in Samarkand.

Held biennially since then, the festival is an important platform to promote national music as well as showcase the latest trends of world musical art.

      


Yet another important cultural event is the Style.Uz Art Week which is held in Tashkent since 2007 and organised by The Forum of Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan Foundation. It is the most high-profile fashion and art event in the Central Asian region, which has been recognised as one of the best events showcasing the entire diversity of traditional and contemporary Central Asian art, culture, music and fashion. Traditionally, the week is attended by prominent fashion designers, brand owners, music and movie stars from various countries and continents.


While “Sharq Taronalari” music festival and Style.Uz Art Week are more like international events where one can see the whole diversity of cultural trends, “Asrlar sadosi” (Echo of ages) Festival of Traditional Culture is the unique platform representing the diversity of national traditions and customs, handicrafts and cuisine, unique folklore and oral and non-material heritage of the Uzbek nation. Every year, “Asrlar sadosi” is held in different regions of Uzbekistan in historical or cultural centres as an outdoor fete with participation of experts, scientists and foreign guests.


In this context one cannot but mention the role of the Forum of Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan Foundation in reviving the spiritual legacy, customs and traditions of Uzbek nation. Established in February 2004, the Fund Forum has done enormous work to promote Uzbekistan’s unique traditional and contemporary culture, rich historical legacy and cultural potential.


So far, the Fund Forum has established its offices in Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, Paris, Vienna, Geneva, Madrid, New York and Berlin.


It can be confidently said that Uzbekistan has now shed the memories of cultural repression and has reclaimed its position as the cultural capital of Central Asia.  

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017