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Traditions and customs of Uzbekistan

The main feature of the Uzbek family is traditionally reverential respect for elders. Uzbeks usually lives in large families consisting of several generations, therefore, preference is given to a large houses on the land. Significant place in family life as element of the hospitality is tea ceremony. Moreover, tea making and pouring it to the guests is exclusive prerogative of the host. It is common to receive invitations to a lunch or dinner and be on time. When planning a visit it is advisable to take souvenirs or sweets for children of the owner of the house. Hand shaking is usually only for the menfolk. Women and people sitting in the background, greeted by putting right hand to your heart, and accompanying this gesture with slight tilt of the head. During hand shaking it is common to ask about health, family, and state of affairs at work and at home. In rural areas in case of the guests, women usually do not sit at same table with the men in order not to interfere their conversation. It is not polite to admire the beauty of the women and pay close attention to them. When entering the living quarters shoes are taken off. Must take place indicated by the host. Moreover, the farther it is form the entrance the more honorable this place is.


Rites of Uzbek people have formed over the centuries as the result of a complex of merging cultural habits and traditions of all tribes and nations that participated in the in the ontogenesis of the Uzbeks. They are quite original, bright and varied, and go back to the tribal patriarch relations. A large number of ceremonies follows the family life and associated with the birth and upbringing of the child, weddings, and funerals. A special role is played by the rituals associated with the birth and upbringing of the children (beshik-Tuyi, khatna-kilish) wedding (fatiha-tui, wedding). Often they are combination of Islamic rituals with more ancient forms related to the mystical practices. With the adoption of Islam, many family and everyday customs have undergone its influence and Muslim religious ceremonies become usual in Uzbek life. Friday is a holiday that is celebrated in the cathedral mosque by public namaz (prayer). Patriarchal attitudes continue to exist in society, which is focused in the mosque, bazaar, tea house, and in which only man population participated.


Beshik-Tuyi (wooden cradle) a ritual celebration related to the first putting the baby in the cradle. This is one of the most ancient and widespread traditional ceremony in Uzbekistan. Typically such event is held on 7th, 9th and 11th day of the birth of the baby. In various regions ritual has its own differences and depends on the family’s income: the rich families usually celebrate this event extensively, and families with low income celebrate it modestly. Beshik (cradle) and necessary things for the baby are provided by the relatives of the baby. In dastarkhan (table-cloth) wrapped cakes, sweets and toys. Gifts are prepared for the baby’s parents and grandparents. Richly decorated beshik, dasturkhans and gifts are loaded into the viechle together with the guests to he sounds of carnay, surnay, and tambourine and drive to the baby’s parent house. Traditionally delivered beshik takes on his right shoulder baby’s grandfather, and then passes on the right shoulder of his son, who then delivers it to the baby’s mother. In past, in order that all intentions of the guests were clean and nice faced daubed with white flour. Guests are invited to the richly decorated dastarkhan (table) and while guests help themselves, listen to music and enjoy, in the next room in the presence of older woman is ceremony of swaddling and putting baby in beshik. At the end of ceremony, guests come to the baby to have a look on him, presents him gifts and roll in on beshik parvarda or sugar. At this point ceremony is over and guests go home...


Khanta kilish - is another ancient Uzbek ceremony, blessed by Islam (Sunnat Tuyi). This ceremony is held with boys at 3, 5, 7, 9 years old, in rare cases in 11-12 years. Carrying sunnat is controlled by the public. Since the birth of the boy, parents start preparations for the Sunnat Tuyi, gradually acquiring all necessary things. A few months before ceremony which is also called ‘wedding’ begin immediate preparations for it. Relatives and neighbors help sew quilts, preparing wedding gifts. All this is entrusted to women with many children.  Before the wedding, the Quran is recited in the presence of the elders of Mahalla, the imam of the mosque and relatives. Table is set, and then read surah form Qoran, and the elders bless the boy. After that the big ‘wedding’ started. Just before the ‘wedding’ in presence of relatives, neighbors, elders, boy wearing gifts. In the past it was customary to give the colt, on which the boy was seated as a sing that form now on he is a man- warrior. All congratulated the boy and give him money and sweets, than all this is going to women’s quarters. On the same day among the women ceremony ‘tahurar’ is held – laying down blankets and pillows on the chest, usually it performs by women with many children. Lavish food including pilaf ends ceremony. According to the tradition in the evening after pilaf, in courtyard people make the bonfire and start dancing around the bonfire, set various games. The next day festival continues.

Fatiha-tui (engagement)

The wedding takes place with the permission and blessing of parents and carried out in several stages. When son becomes an adult, parents start looking for suitable girl for him. In this process involved close relatives, neighbors, and friends. When they have found the girl, maternal aunt or father come to the girl’s house under any pretext, to look at her, to met her parents, and take a look on a home décor of potential bride. After that family and friends make inquiries about family of the chosen girl. In case of positive feedback the matchmakers are sent off. One of the main procedures in Brokage is “Fatiha-tui” (engagement or betrothal). Matchmakers designated day of wedding. On this day known in the district old people, chairman of Mahalla and girls are gathering in the bride’s house.  After intermediaries explain the purpose of their visit, the ceremony “non sindirish” (literally “to break the cake”) begins. From that moment the young people deemed engaged. “Fatiha tui” ends with the appointment of the wedding day. Each intermediary is given dasturkhon with two cakes, sweets, as well as presents form the girl to the groom and his parents. When intermidiaries returns to the groom’s house they bring trays of gifts and begin the riot of “sarpo curare” (examining of presents). Dastarkhan typically deployed by a woman with many children. All enjoys with the sweets and biscuits that were brought form the bride’s house. This ceremony completes the ritual of betrothal. Since the “Fatiha tui” and up to the wedding the parents resolve issues related to dowry and organizational issues related to the wedding ceremony. A few days before the wedding, fiancée invite her relatives and close friends to “Keyes mis” (Hen-party).


Wedding ceremony traditionally plays essential role Uzbeks life, and celebrates as an important event.  In the presence of common features this ceremony has its own characteristics different areas. The highlight of weeding cycle is the transition of the bride from her parents' house to the groom’s house.  On the day of the wedding in the house of the bride arranged wedding pilaf, which is prepared in the house of the groom and then sent to the bride. The same palov ceremony serving in the house of the groom. On the wedding day the imam of the mosque reads "Hutbai Nikoh" (prayer for marriage), after which the young are declared husband and wife before God. Imam explains the rights and duties of husband and wife. Usually after the nikoh the young go to the registry office for registration of their civil marriage. On the day of the wedding at the bride's groom wear sarpo (clothes and shoes, a gift for the wedding), after which the groom goes to the bride's parents for the welcome. After the return of the groom, the bride arrives.

Morning pilaf

Ceremony of the morning pilaf held during the wedding ("Sunnat Tuyi" or marriage ceremony) and funeral (after 20 days and one year after the date of death). Organizers of the wedding prescribe date and time for the morning pilaf, beforehand agreeing with the mahalla community or quarterly committee. On this day are sent invitations to relatives, neighbors and friends. In the evening is held the rite of "Sabzi tugrar" - chopping carrots, which is usually visited by neighbors and close relatives. After the end of "Sabzi tugrar" all participants are invited to the table. Usually artists are invited on “Sabzi tugrar”. At the table during the feasting elders distribute duties among those who are present. Morning pilaf should be ready by the end of the Morning Prayer - "bomdod namozi" because the first guests should be its participant. By the end of the Morning Prayer sounds of carnay, surnay and tambourine announce the morning palov. Guests are seated at tables, and after reading the fotiha (wishes) scones and tea are served. Just then the pilaf in lagans (large dishes) - one for two is serving. After the meal lyagans removed, and guests once again make a fotiha and thanking the host, after that they leave. After they left, the tables quickly put in order to receive its new guests. Morning pilaf usually lasts no more than one and a half or two hours.


The most important national holiday is Independence Day, celebrated on September 1st. Every year on December 8 Constitution Day is celebrated to commemorate the adoption of the new Constitution of independent Uzbekistan in 1992. As in many other countries, 9 May is celebrated Memorial Day. Widely celebrated Holidays that associated with the end of fasting – Ramazan Khayit and Kurban Khayit. Kurban Khayit is one of the most important Muslim holidays. On this day, after rituals believers pay visits or receive guests at home, helping the sick, lonely, and show mercy to others. Lovely holiday "Ramadan Khayit" is a holiday of spiritual and moral purification. It begins at the end of 30 days of fasting, which according to Islamic law falls on the 9th month of the Muslim Hijri year. On this day traditionally people commemorate the dead, visit the sick, the elderly, engage in charity and other good works.


Ancient popular holiday Nowruz ("Nowruz bayrami"), celebrated on March 21, the day of vernal equinox. It is a celebration of nature awakening and beginning of planting, preserved in its rituals features of Zoroastrianism. In the agricultural oasis of ancient Uzbekistan were held every spring the big festivals, holiday bazaars. According to tradition, even today people bake "baursak" and prepare the ritual meal - sumalyak. After the celebrations usually begin field work, which in the past were also accompanied by the implementation of various rites before going into the field and horns of oxen and bulls neck smeared with oil.  After the celebrations usually begins field work, which in the past were also accompanied by the implementation of various rites, for example before going into the field horns and neck of oxen and bulls smeared with oil. The first furrow performed by the most respected and oldest member of the community. During the years of independence celebration of Nowruz has acquired a new dimension and depth. It became a national holiday of friendship, unity, brotherhood of all peoples. The colorful, theatrical performances reveal the philosophical and poetic reflection of Nowruz, its place in people's stories.


The originality of clothing of indigenous peoples has always been determined by climatic, living conditions and tribal traditions. Back in the 19th century clothing (gowns, dresses, shirts) continued to keep the archaic features: a wide, long, it freely flows down, hiding the shape of the human body. Clothing different similarity: winter and summer, men, women and children, they were close in form and design. The traditional national men's costume consists of a warm quilted robe - chopon tied with scarf or scarves, head cap and boots made of fine leather. Men wore shirts straight cut, inner and outer robes. Robe might be light or warm, quilted padded. On the sides of the robe there were sections for the convenience of walking and sitting on the floor. Robe - chapan is usually tied by scarf or scarves. Holiday clothes differ from the everyday by its beauty and luxury fabrics, embroidery, etc. Women's costume consists of a robe, functional dress simple cut of khan-atlas, and trousers - wide thin pants narrow at the bottom. Women’s headdress women consisted of three main elements: the cap, scarf and turban. Holiday women's suit is different from the everyday clothes by its quality factor and the beauty of fabrics, from which it is run. Children's clothes repeated clothes of adults. In addition to the common features of each garment district or tribe had its own uniqueness expressed in fabric, shape, etc.

Headdress (skullcap)

One of the most popular and widespread forms of applied art of Uzbekistan has always been a skullcap - hard or soft cap with lining. Skullcap is an integral part of Uzbek national costume, came into the life and traditions of Uzbek people. Skullcap (from the Turkic "Tube"- top) is the national headdress not only Uzbeks, but also other Central Asian nations. Skullcaps are classified by types: men's, women's, children's, for old people. Elder women do not wear it. Children's skullcap (kulohcha, kalpakcha, duppi, kallapush) are varied by colorful fabrics, tassels and beads, embroidery, sequins and lots of charms. The most common forms of Uzbek skullcaps - square, slightly tapered. Skullcap made of two or more layers of fabric quilted and fixed silk or cotton thread. Ready skullcap embroidered with silk thread, gold or silver thread. Embroidery art of skullcaps mostly owned to women. The most popular patterns of embroidery are floral motif, almond-shaped motif "baud" - a symbol of life and fertility. Widespread ornament in skullcaps pattern is "Ilon izi" (snakes) that serves as a talisman. Geometric ornament was also popular. Skucllcaps created in different areas, different shape, and ornament by color scheme.The most popular skullcap in Uzbekistan is Chust skullcap. Duppi - the most common type of tyubeteykas of Chust - is characterized by a black background and white pattern of four peppers - "kalampir;" which are embroidered and located in a number of arcs in. There are three types of duppi - rounded, square, round and long hat. Chist duppi (black background and white embroidered pattern) differ by "coolness" of ornament (complete with almonds with a short and sharply rounded ends) and has significantly high sides. Other species skullcaps of Ferghana Valley - "Sandals", "Akka ikki sum", "Chimboy", "Surkachekma" etc., their ornaments are simple. There are other types of headwear - Urgut skullcap "kalpok", Bukhara gold-embroidered skullcap, skullcap Shakhrisabz "gilam duppi" Kitab and Shakhrisabz skullcaps "Sanam" and "chizma", "wear takhja", "Taihu", "chumakli", "Snatch" - men's and women's Khorezm skullcaps. The most common patterns on skullcaps were pepper shaped pattern (a symbol of purity and detachment from all earthly things), crosses, tufts of feathers, nightingale, bird (the symbol of supreme wisdom), rose (symbol of peace and beauty), sacred inscriptions in Arabic script, etc.


Traditional forms of social relations in Uzbekistan are, above all, the Mahalla - neighborhood community, associations of Men "jura" and craft union of craftsmen. Uzbek mahalla has a thousand-year history and is the center of family and religious rituals and holidays. Here are carefully preserved rituals and their conducts by passed on from one generation. As a rule, there is mosque in traditional mahalla. There is ancient tradition of mutual aid - hashar. Khashar method helps pople to build a house with the help of relatives or, improve their district, street, city. In sovereign Uzbekistan mahalla has become the keeper of cultural and moral traditions of the Uzbek people and was legally recognized as mechanism of self-government. Today Mahalla is a territorial association of families with a view to cooperation and mutual assistance in the areas of both individual buildings and traditional parts of cities, and high-rise buildings and streets of industrial cities. In Mahalla live in peace people from different nationalities. A network of more than 10,000 Mahallas covers the entire territory of the country and are an important element in the strengthening of civil society. The entire population of Uzbekistan will recognize them as an effective form of social organization. Act of September 2, 1992 specifies that the bodies of self-government in the community are gatherings. They elect the chairman of 2.5 years (elder) and his advisers. Coordinating body is a public non-governmental fund "Mahalla".