Intangible Cultural Heritage of Asia and the Pacific

Taking off the bride’s headscarf in the yuz ochdi ceremony © Sayidafzal Mallakhanov

Wedding Ceremonies of the Ferghana Valley

Wedding ceremonies play an important role in social life of the Uzbek people. Embodying various traditions, rituals, and celebrations, weddings are important lifetime events since they mark the birth of a new family. But a wedding is not only a union of two young people and launching of a new life but also a solemn rite of entry into important social norms and a continuation of the family legacy.

Uzbek wedding ceremonies consist of three stages—pre-wedding ceremonies, the wedding, and post-wedding ceremonies. These ceremonies have different incarnations across Uzbekistan, based on historical, religious, and social factors. This article focuses on wedding ceremonies of the Ferghana Valley.

Pre-Wedding Ceremonies

The bride is usually chosen by the groom or his parents. In either case, the bride’s family will be comprehensively studied before the engagement. Three or four matchmakers, headed by the most respected member of the groom’s family, visit the bride’s house. They announce their consent after receiving the consent from the bride and an elder member of her family. After this, a breakingbread ceremony is held. The groom delivers the special flatbread, breaks two together, and distributes the bread with sweets to neighbors and relatives. After the ceremony, the parties agree on the dates of engagement and wedding ceremonies and discuss the expenditures and shares.

The groom sends food to the bride’s house for the engagement ceremony, which is mainly attended by the girl’s relatives, who assess the collected dowry and, if necessary, provide financial assistance to overcome any shortage.

Wedding Ceremonies

A wedding ceremony in the bride’s house (the bride’s party) and a wedding ceremony are held on the same day. At the latter, bride and groom conclude the formal marriage and religious marriage and hold a banquet at the bride’s house. Later, the bride, accompanied by her relatives and close friends, goes to the groom’s house, where the groom is waiting to enter with her. The people accompanying the bride sing a wedding song called “Yor- Yor.” When the bride and groom enter, the celebrations continue with music and dance, and relatives, friends, and neighbors offer kind words of greetings.

Post-Wedding Ceremonies

The morning after the wedding, the yuz ochdi rite is held, in which the bride meets with the groom’s relatives. During this ceremony, a young boy, one to eight years old, uses a tree branch to take off the bride’s headscarf. Afterwards, the kelin salom rite (bride’s greetings) starts, and the women sing “Kelin Salom” accompanied by a doira, a traditional percussion instrument. During this symbolic rite, the bride bows and addresses God, prophets, and saints and then close relatives of the groom. Giving a greeting bow, the bride receives gifts, and at the same time, she gives gifts to the guests.

In the evening, the groom gathers with his closest friends at a traditional tea-house and hold osh/pilav, at which the groom feeds his unmarried friends with his hands, wishing them to create a family and marry soon.

After the wedding, the bride returns to her parents’ house with other women to hold a ceremony called chorlar, where mainly women take part.

The final event is quda chaqiriq (reception for the bride’s parents). Men of both families (and sometimes women) gather in the groom’s house on a previously agreed day to get acquainted with one another.

Generally, Uzbek wedding traditions have a variety of rites and rituals. They may differ from region to region or even from community to community. But the basis of all these rites is to move the bride from her house to her groom’s house.

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