Following the school celebrations
and the start of the holiday we have been enjoying the Nauruz (New Year) celebrations around the
city. Yesterday we took a walk with
friends along the Ishim River to have lunch at one of our favourite cafes. After a few hours at home we then walked
around the corner to the Baiterek to enjoy the light show that has been put on
there for Nauruz.
|The Baiterek, Astana|
The Baiterek is a national monument in the center of Nurzhol Boulevard
– the axis of the new city. It
represents a poplar tree in which Samruk, a magic bird, laid an egg. You enter the structure underground where
there is a souvenir shop, a ticket booth and a small aquatic display. Tickets are not expensive – 500 tenge (about
£2) and children below the age of five go free.
Two fast lifts take visitors up into the egg at the top of the tree to
floor 97m above ground level. This
number is significant because 1997 was the year Astana became the capital city
of Kazakhstan. The observation deck has
a 360 degree view of Astana and is the best place for new visitors to come to
get their bearings. There is a café on
this level which serves soft drinks, beer and ice-cream. We come up here regularly to enjoy a pre dinner drink and watch the sun go down behind the Khan Shatyr. The staff here know us well and are always friendly and welcoming. On this visit our children were given a bar of 'Kazakhstan' chocolate as a gift to celebrate the New Year.
|'USSR' Russian Icecream at the Baiterek|
A flight of steps bring visitors up to the top floor where
there is a wooden sculpture commemorating the Congress of leaders of the World
and Traditional Religions which is held in Astana on a regular basis. Next to this there is a plaque with a
handprint of President Nazarbaev – the first president of independent Kazakhstan. Visitors are invited to put their hand into
the handprint and make a wish. This is particularly busy in the summer months when tours of visitors from all over Kazakhstan come to see and enjoy the capital.
|Visitors make a wish by placing their hand in the handprint of the President.|
In the last week the park around the Baiterek has been
surrounded by tall pillars with lights on top and along the side. In the evening the Baiterek is lit up with
the lights which change colour and pattern in time to music. The show is a repeating loop of tracks and
patterns. I am not usually a fan of
these types of shows because the music is typically over-loud and very
intrusive but this was very well done indeed.
We arrived a little early so we decided to go up to the top
of the Baiterek. We let the children
make a new year’s wish before going to the café to enjoy a drink while watching
the sunset behind the Khan Shatyr. When
the show started we took the lift back down to enjoy the display.
All last week we have not been able to drive in front of the
, our usual route to school as the road has been closed off with preparations for the Nauruz
fair. A number of stages and Yurts had
been constructed to house displays and produce from eight different regions of
Kazakhstan – Akmola (our local region), Kostany, Almaty, North and South
Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, Kyzlorda and Karaganda.
|The Pyramid and roads being prepared for the Nauruz fair.|
We had arranged to meet up with some friends who live close
by and walk over to the fair. Unfortunately
the weather took a turn for the worse today and it was bitterly cold (think midwinter levels of cold in most other places). Everybody looked to have been caught out –
all the Shubas (furs) and down coats
have been put away because of the recent warm spell and most people were
wearing woollen spring/autumn coats.
|Nauruz Fair -Astana|
We stayed for a while to watch some wrestling – we were
lucky enough to catch a bout in which one of the national team members was
competing (it was very short and extremely decisive) but it was too cold to
stay and watch the displays much longer as the children were starting to shiver and even the adults were getting numb fingers. The fair itself was a little bit of a let down. We were expecting artisanal products, beautifully arrayed but the regional tents held nothing more than could be bought in a supermarket, all piled rather inelegantly on the tables.
|Traditional wrestling match|
We went back to our friend’s house to let the
children thaw a little and enjoy a New Year’s lunch. A little later we went to one of the malls to
pick up some passport photographs (one of the lovely things about Astana is
that nothing closes on public holidays).
It was very sweet to see that the mall had arranged for a traditional Nauruz swing to be
put up for children to enjoy and that some people had a horse and pony outside
for children to have rides.
|Children enjoy a Nauruz ride|
Click on the picture for more posts on life in Kazakhstan.
It was chilly xx We very much enjoyed the Baiterek light show also.ReplyDelete
Fab photos - another super post Mrs. EE.
Many thanks DD. The light show seems to be on-going for some days so hopefully there will be a chance to enjoy it in warmer weather.ReplyDelete
It was very interesting to read for me - although, Kazakhstan was a part of USSR, as Ukraine (where I am from), still the traditions are very different. Thanks for sharing :) #ExpatTuesdayReplyDelete
So pleased that you enjoyed it. I would love to explore Ukraine. During the USSR a lot of the Kazakh traditions (and the language) were, we were told, quite suppressed so there is quite an effort to rebuild and re-establish some distinctively Kazakh celebrations and ensure that people learn the Kazakh language. Was it the same in Ukraine? Unlike there, however, Kazakh society pre USSR was, while ancient, predominantly nomadic so very easy to suppress.Delete