«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev

Few Thoughts on Kazakh value systems and traditions: are they maintained enough?

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Few Thoughts on Kazakh value systems and traditions: are they maintained enough?
President Nursultan Nazarbyev has stressed the role of traditions and values in 'Rukhani zhangyru' program and this should be taken into account by providing decent materials on the topic.

Modern sovereign Kazakhstan is experiencing a period of its national revival. The growing interest in the history of its people, in its national culture, in the origins of the formation of the ethnos and its evolution in the system of universal civilization, are realities typical for the entire post-Soviet space at the turn of the century, called by individual researchers the time of "rebellious ethnicity" or "new national revival". 

This process fully applies to the Kazakh ethnos, as previously the destruction of national sense of pride and destruction of cultural traditions took place throughout the twentieth century. During the seventy-year Soviet period in Kazakhstan, they fought with traditions as "remnants of the past". However, no socio-political processes were able to gloss over the ethnic individuality and national self-expression of the Kazakh people.

In this regard, a positive appeal to religion and the history of its people, its own national and cultural roots can serve to address the most pressing problems of modern society in the field of marriage and family, such as an increase in the number of divorces, a low number of marriages and a fall in the birth rate, families, etc. Therefore, there is no doubt in the importance and urgency of raising the issue of the cultural traditions and values of the modern Kazakh family through the lenses of social and psychological analysis.

Taking into account the fact that the problems of marriage and family are interdisciplinary, I consider it necessary and only possible in our case to conduct a comprehensive (interdisciplinary) analysis of historical ethnographic and cultural literature, as well as empirical research in the psychological and sociological sciences.

In the Kazakh history, for marriage it was necessary to observe certain restrictions related to exogamous, social, class, national and religious norms. The Kazakh exogamous barrier is mainly limited to the seventh generation. Modern Kazakhs use this norm today, as it serves to regulate the birth of physically and mentally healthy offspring and the continuation of the genus.

It should also be noted that at the conclusion of marriage unions, the social belonging of the parties played an important role among the Kazakhs. From the point of view of the present, the socioeconomic factor of marriage is of great importance at the present time. Since the difference in the social and material and economic status of partners is not the least of the reasons for divorce. Equality of the bride and groom in the social and economic terms (level of education, similarity of the socialization environment, level of income) gives a feeling of psychological equality.

In general, the modern family life of the Kazakh people, according to the scientist, having absorbed all the best from the centuries-old experience and traditions of the people, at the same time qualitatively differs from the pre-revolutionary. It clearly reflects the fundamental changes in the socio-economic, socio-political and cultural life of the Kazakh nation. It has substantially changed the way of thinking of Kazakh men and women, and their relationship. Many elements of folk traditions, customs and rituals were transformed and simplified, and some even disappeared altogether.

Principal changes, according to the scientists’ comments, occurred in the relations of members of the Kazakh family. In fact, the dependent position of the daughter-in-law (kelin) has been completely overcome in relation not only to the husband, but also to the parents and relatives of the husband, up to the norms of treatment and behavior in the family. Already a stereotype of the modern family was the friendly, unconstrained relationship of the daughter-in-law with her husband's parents. Father-in-law (qayin ata) and especially mother-in-law (qaiyn-ene) render all possible assistance in housekeeping, in the upbringing of children and thereby create normal conditions for the self-realization and career growth of the daughter-in-law.

Mutual relations of husband and wife in the modern Kazakh family, as a rule, are based on mutual love, respect, mutual help and support.

And the main condition for marriage is voluntariness, mutual feeling and an independent solution of the problem by young people. Of the traditional customs, such as the bride's bridegrooms, the bridegrooms of the dowry, the shedding of the young (shashu), the pouring of oil into the fire by the bride (otqa mai quyu), the groom's offering of the dish with the brisket (tos), and the matchmakers meat from the back of the animal (zhambas), the performance of everyday ritual songs (jar-jar and bet-ashar), mutual gifting of matchmakers, etc.

The institute of kalym and surviving forms of marriage, as is known, has now disappeared. But the custom was preserved to give the bride a dowry. However, the modern dowry differs significantly in its purpose and content, and serves exclusively the interests of the young family as a one-time material and economic aid and the basis for their joint life on the part of the bride's family. Thus, it is obvious that the socio-economic transformations influence the whole course of history, the history of culture and the psychology of the people, including the marriage and family relations of the Kazakhs.

In the Kazakh society, which is now under conditions of intensive economic, socio-political and cultural transformation, along with the tendency of ever increasing freedom of choice of an individual style of life behavior, "the Kazakh people" enter the everyday life of national values ​​associated with the ethnic tradition. Especially distinctly, in the opinion of modern Kazakhstan historian and ethnographer S. Shalginbaeva, it is manifested today in the urbanized urban environment of the titular ethnos of the republic. In her thesis she studied the traditions, customs and ceremonies of the wedding, maternity and children's cycle, which are currently observed by urban Kazakhs. These include the following: "kindik sheshe" - i.e. the umbilical mother or midwife, "at qoyu" - the name of the naming, "shildehana" - the holiday on the occasion of the birth of the child, "besikku salu" - cradle, "kyrkanan shygaru" - the withdrawal of the child from the forties, "tusau kesu" - cutting the put, " sundetke otyrgyzu "- the custom of ritual circumcision, associated with the religion of Islam.

According to the results of ethno-sociological research, it is revealed that the most stable rites and customs of the maternity and children's cycle in the life of the modern Kazakh family are rites - "kyrkanan shygaru", "tusau kesu", "sundetke otyrgyzu".

The modern wedding complex of urban Kazakhs, according to the researcher, breaks up into a series of ritual cycles: 1) matchmaking; 2) "seeing off" by the parents of the bride ("kyz uzatu toyi") at will and material possibilities; 3) solemn registration of marriage and religious ritual of marriage ("neke qyu") at the request of the young and their parents; 4) the main celebration ("uilenu toyi"); 5) "quda shaqyru", "kyit kigyzu" - the meeting of parents and relatives of the bride (after the main celebration) first at the groom's parents' home, later at the bride's parents and exchange of gifts; 6) visits of young people to the bride's parents, as well as to the relatives of the bride and groom, who can be classified as family-related.

At the same time, it has been established that in the modern wedding ritual of urban Kazakhs the revived rite "neke qyu" is not yet fully an organic part of the Kazakh wedding ceremony.

In the pre-wedding period, the Kazakhs observe a number of rituals, rituals and customs - "oli-tiri" ("dead alive"), "qorzhyn" (a sachet made of homespun or carpet), "syrga salu", "alqa salu", "mandayga tiyn tagu" (gifts to the bride), "ananyn suti" (payment for mother's milk), "kiyt" (literally "dress"), unchanged is the eating of the ritual dish "quyryq bauyr" (liver with a piece of fatty fat) toast "(lamb brisket) and payment of "kade" (gift), it is obligatory to receive a blessing - "bata alu" (blessing) from reputable and wise people. The performance of the traditional wedding song "jar-jar", "shashu" - ritual of showering the newlyweds with various sweets and coins, "bet ashar" (opening the bride's face), "salem beru" (bowing), "toi bastar" (dish with gifts) all these rites are associated with the arrangement and conduct of the wedding.

The post-wedding ceremonialism includes the "otqa mai quyu" (pouring oil into the fire), "kelin shai" - ritual of spilling tea to the relatives of the husband, "jasau" - dowry of the bride, "quda shaqyru", "esik-tor korsetu", "kelin shaqyru", "ui korsetu".

At the same time, it is noted that according to the rite "otqa mai quyu", only such an element of this ritual as the bride crossing the threshold of the apartment or the house of the groom's parents with the right foot has survived in the urban environment. This rite is mainly observed only by the rural population due to the fact that the urban population, living in residential high-rise buildings, is not able to perform this rite, and is less informed.

As a result of the analysis, the characteristic features of the modern institution of marriage among Kazakhs, such as the wide sphere of pre-marital acquaintance and the independent choice of a marriage partner, are also revealed. Nevertheless, the scientist notes, the existing importance of the parents' influence on the marriage choice among the urban Kazakhs has been preserved.

Thus, the analysis of modern wedding rituals of urban Kazakhs allows us to conclude that the elements of traditional culture are preserved in it. However, it should be noted that a number of traditions and rituals are highlighted, to which an ambiguous attitude is manifested.

For example, Kazakhs have such an interesting belief: since ancient times, according to the rules of marriage, a woman should not have been older than her husband for more than eight years, and a man is older than a woman for twenty five years. There is a direct psychological explanation that the relationship between men and women with a large age difference may have inconsistency, and, consequently, friction and tension in many aspects of marriage and family relations due to the socio-psychological and psychophysiological characteristics of the spouses manifested in different preferences and interests, representations about family roles, values ​​and the way of family life. Experience and empirical research in the field of family psychology show that socially unequal marriages are generally fragile and not stable. Nevertheless, such marriages became not rare for Kazakhstan.

Also there was a custom - after the birth of the child the mother of the woman in childbirth had to visit her first, and only then the young mother could visit other relatives. Now this custom is called "suyindir". It is based on the deep psychological meaning of the daughter's meeting in a new social status and a new role - the mother; preparation for meeting with relatives from the side of the husband, greeting his grandson or granddaughter ("zhien"), the implementation of moral and emotional support, the approval and blessing of their children and much more. All the actions of the mother of a young woman in labor can be designated as an aid in the social and psychological adaptation of the daughter to a new stage in the family life associated with the birth of a child.

Even in old times, a daughter-in-law was forbidden to cut hair or eat camel meat during pregnancy. More than once the consequences of neglecting this rule were proved: in a pregnant woman who had eaten camel meat, the baby's appearance could last up to twelve months. And the use of a maternity pawn in the food of hare's meat often led to the fact that the baby had a "hare's lip" at birth. From the point of view of socio-psychological analysis, these phenomena are something other than ethnic prejudices and social attitudes that serve as psychological mechanisms for regulating the unconscious and conscious activity of women and exert a general influence on the entire sphere of marriage and family relations among Kazakhs. It should be noted that similar beliefs-installations are also found in family life "related" to culture, religion, language, and ethnic groups. These include the ethnic groups and peoples of the Turkic group, which generally belong to the Altai family: Turks, Turkmens, Tatars, Bashkirs, Kirghiz, Karakalpaks, Uzbeks, Uighurs, Altaians, etc., who try not to violate centuries-old customs.

There are also other rituals, which are not inferior in their unusualness. For example, "zharysqazan" is a rite performed during the birth of a woman. In anticipation of a joyful event, close relatives begin to cook meat in the cauldron, trying to get ahead of the baby's appearance. It was believed that the child is included in this "race" and will be born faster. In this rite, a positive attitude to the meeting between the relatives of the mother and her baby is read, the collective activity of the female half of a large family, during which women confer and solve various questions on the preparation of a child's dowry, its cradle (besik). Given the wishes of the young mother and older women in the family, determine the mother's cross mother (kіndіk sheshe). Allocate the duties of holding a festive toja (shildehana) on the occasion of the birth of the baby and the appearance of a new member of the family.

There are also customs that have lost their relevance nowadays. These include "amengerlik": the widow had to marry one of the brothers of her deceased husband. Compliance with this custom made it possible to resolve the issue of fatherlessness.

There is a rite that has been completely forgotten, which is called "dert koshiru" ("getting rid of an illness"). Rural residents gathered together and said "Qosh!" ("Go away!"), in an attempt to recover. This action was accompanied by a composed quatrain. The belief in the power of collective energy was so great that it chased even skin diseases. This ritual emphasizes the ethnic and socio-psychological originality of the Kazakh culture, which manifests itself in the cooperativeness of the spirit of the people, and the desire to help relatives.

Separately, we should consider the traditions associated with the nature of the upbringing of children in the Kazakh family. So, within the framework of the dissertation research, the Kazakh psychologist A. Davletova studied psychological features of personality development in large families of Kazakh families. Particular attention was paid to the analysis of the problem of the Kazakh family as a variant of the traditional type and functions of children of different birth orders.

Traditionally, Kazakhs, in relation to older children, use the custom, similar to some other nations, which consists in the initiation of the older child into the family of "older parents" (grandfather), as a result of which the status of this child psychologically changes. With the education of grandparents in the family, the child develops special personal qualities that he needs as a senior to perform the role of coordinator and allow more critical and reflective attitude to the family members of his direct parents. After all, the elder child in the family is responsible for the upbringing and social support of his younger brothers and sisters.

Also in the family relations of the Kazakhs, the right to inheritance of the father (ake murasy) is very interesting and important. According to tradition, the younger son does not build an independent household, but remains the heir to the father's hearth - qara shanyrak. Usually the inheritance bequeathed verbally, with witnesses. At the same time, the youngest son is also responsible for the elderly parents. Before the execution of this custom was strictly observed.

The social and psychological analysis of the values ​​of the life of the Kazakh ethnos, carried out here revealed that for contemporary Kazakhs, as before, the most important values ​​remain the family, children, health and well-being of relatives and friends. At the same time, the study of family values ​​of modern urban and rural Kazakhs, as well as families of servicemen and oralmans (Kazakh returnees who returned to their historical homeland) showed that in the family life, love, children, mutual love respect and mutual understanding between husband and wife. The foregoing points to the family-centered orientation of the Kazakhs, and proves once again the importance and significance of the family, family-related relations in the life of the Kazakh ethnos.

Thus, the analysis of thisve on this problem allows us to conclude that representatives of the modern Kazakh ethnos are characterized by veneration of family values, the revival of their ethno-cultural traditions and their observance in the process of family life.

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