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Tajikistan: ‘Halloween is not for Patriots’

There are not many people in Tajikistan who know anything about Halloween, let alone mark it. Yet even rare celebrations of the holiday in the country make some people uneasy.

‘Alien’ holiday

On October 31, blogger Bachai Sako set the tone for the discussion on blogiston.tj. Disturbed by his son's willingness to celebrate the festival with friends, he wrote [tj] that the holiday had its roots in paganism and western culture. Bachai Sako then suggested:

Ба фикри ман, мо бояд аз таъриху решахои ин урфу одат хеч вакт фаромуш накунем. “Хэллоуин” асосан иди бутпарастону исавиён буда, ба арзишхову анъанахои миллии точик ва чамьияти исломи хеч тааллук надорад. Мо бояд насли наврасро омузонем, ки “хэллоуин” ба точикон ва ахли ислом бегона мебошад. Точикписарону точикдухтарони сарбаланд ва миллатдуст хеч вакт набояд идхои бегонаро чашн гиранд.

I think we should never forget about the history and origins of this tradition. Halloween is essentially a holiday of pagans and Christians, and as such it has nothing to do with the values and traditions of the Tajik nation and Islamic society. We should teach the younger generation that Halloween is alien to Tajiks and all Muslims. Proud Tajik boys and girls who love their nation should never celebrate alien holidays.

Christian Mark Bleur took this photo at a Halloween party this week in Qurghonteppa, southern Tajikistan. Used with permission.

Commenting on Bachai Sako's post, another Tajik blogger, Teocrat, agreed [tj]:

100% бо Шумо розиям! Ман низ мутмаинам, ки аз чунин “идхо” имони чавонони мо заиф мегардад [...] Наход дар хамин олам дигар идхои милли ва мусалмонии худамон набошад? [...] Миллат ва халке, ки арзишхои худро пос намедорад ва онхоро риоя намекунад зуд туъмаи душманон мегардад!

I [fully] agree with you! I am confident that because of such “holidays” our young people weaken in their faith. Don't we have our own national and Muslim holidays? [...] A nation or a people that doesn't preserve its values and doesn't act upon them quickly falls victim to enemies!

‘Innocent prank’

Some bloggers, however, thought that Bachai Sako went too far in criticizing the holiday. Mustafo wrote [ru]:

Не нужно перегибать палку. Во-первых, те ОЧЕНЬ НЕМНОГИЕ жители Таджикистана, которые “празднуют” хэллоуин, на самом деле никаким праздником его не считают. Это просто еще один повод разнообразить свою жизнь, устроить что-нибудь весёлое и интересное. Хэллоуин, о котором большинство наших граждан даже и не слышало, это просто НЕВИННАЯ ШАЛОСТЬ, а не “чуждый” праздник.

Don't go too far. First of all, those FEW Tajikistanis who “celebrate” Halloween don't actually view it as a holiday. [For them] it is just another occasion to diversify their lives, organize something fun and interesting. Halloween, which most of our fellow-citizens have not even heard of, is just an INNOCENT PRANK, rather than an “alien” holiday.

Similarly, underneath Bachai Sako's post, Dil commented [ru]:

мне кажется что этот праздник еще один повод для людей собраться и весело провести время, какая разница чей это праздник? самое главное это ПРАЗДНИК!!!

I think that this holiday is another occasion when people can get together and have fun. Why should it matter whose holiday it is? The most important thing is that it is a HOLIDAY!!!

Christian Mark Bleur took this photo at a Halloween party this week in Qurghonteppa, southern Tajikistan. Used with permission.

These attempts to defend Halloween have been criticized. Under Mustafo's post, Parvona contended [ru]:

невинная шалость? ага, сегодня мы начнем праздновать хэллоуин вместе с днем свитого валентана, а завтра забудем свой родной язык и потеряем свою культуру.

an innocent prank? well, today we will celebrate Halloween and St. Valentine's Day and tomorrow we will forget our mother tongue and lose our culture.

A bit later Parvona added [ru]: “Halloween is not for patriots”.

‘National’ holidays

Bachai Sako's assertion that Halloween should not be celebrated because it is ‘alien’ to national and Islamic traditions has led some users on blogiston.tj to argue that many other holidays marked in Tajikistan have little to do with Islam or ‘national’ traditions.

Jahongir wrote [tj]:

In tavr boshad, idi Nawruzam idi musalmoni nest. Shoyad Nawruzro jashn kardan bas kunem? Man rozi bo on sukhanhoi ki “halloween” idi mardumi Tojik nest, lekin agar sukhan dar borai idhoi musalmoni boshad mo in chunin boyad 8 Martu digar idhoi Sovetiro qa'd kardanashro ma'n kunem, yo ne?

If this is how we look at things, Navruz [aka 'Persian New Yer'] is also not a Muslim holiday. Should we stop celebrating Navruz as well? I agree that Halloween is not the Tajik people's holiday, but if we talk about Muslim holidays, we should also stop celebrating March 8 [Women's Day] and other Soviet holidays, or not?

And Ruslan suggested [ru] that what is considered a ‘national’ holiday changes with time.

[П]онятие “национальный” праздник меняется со временем. В начале 9-го века, например, Иди Курбон и Иди Рамазон были “чуждыми” для наших предков праздниками. А еще 100 лет назад таджики и не думали о том, чтобы справлять Новый Год, дни рожденья, 8 марта. 23 февраля и т.д. Откуда мы начинаем отсчет того, насколько какой-то праздник является “национальным” или “чуждым”?

What is considered a “national” holiday changes over time. In the early ninth century, for example, Idi Kurbon [Eid al-Adha] and Idi Ramazon [Eid al-Fitr] were ‘alien’ holidays to our ancestors. And 100 years ago, Tajiks did not celebrate the New Year, birthdays, March 8, February 23 [Army Day], etc. From when do we start counting to see which holiday is ‘national’ or ‘alien'?

In many ways, this discussion reflects wider disagreements within Tajik society about what should be considered ‘national’ and what is to be regarded as ‘foreign'. Some people in the country believe that Tajiks should return to their ‘roots', either pre-Soviet or pre-Islamic. Other people argue that Tajiks should retain their post-Soviet culture.

Still, it appears that most people in the country find all these discussions useless. As Ismoili Yorigi put it [ru]:

что вы тут развели дискуссию? хеллоун – не хэллоуин, национальный – не национальный… мне лично никакой разницы нет. лишь бы в стране всем жилось хорошо!

What are you discussing here? Halloween or no Halloween, national or not national… I personally don't care. The most important thing is to make sure that we all live well in the country!

  • Bakhrom

    Interesting discussion, contrast of ideas and values, different points of view

  • Kirill T.

    We always celebrated Halloween at out high school (‘English’ school No. 20 in Dushanbe), between 2003 and 2009. I wonder why there is all this fuss about the holiday now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/asodiqov Alexander Sodiqov

    It was a blogger who suggested that Halloween has Christian roots.

  • Pingback: Noć veštica u Tadžikistanu: Obožavanje đavola ili nevina zabava? · Global Voices na srpskom

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