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Sabantuy – festival of plow
It is a very ancient holiday dedicated to the spring and summer field works. The earliest mentions of this feast in written materials refer to the year 1292. However, the roots of the holiday go to the time before Islam acceptance, in some worship ceremonies to the God of the Sun and the Sky -Tengri, in these ceremonies a word or an action were the part of pagan worship. People from near area villages gathered on the maydan (square area specially for this feast, usually on the meadow near the river or on the plough land) for sacrificing in honor of the Infinity God of the Sky -Tengri and asking for a good harvest.
After Islam came into the region (in 922) Sabantuy lost its pagan cult importance and became just the feast of the planting start time. On this day the village people gathered presents from every house, made holiday dishes, got beautifully dressed and went to the maydan. Our holiday has always looked like European spear-running: here people competed in archery, national kind of fighting (kuresh) and others. The atmosphere of the competition is the necessary part of the feast of the plough. Except spear-running there were competitions in dexterity and force: running, breaking the clay pot with eyes closed, fighting on the wooden log, searching the coin in the pot with the sour milk in it, running with shoulder yoke, climbing up a rope and many others. Many of these games before Islam were parts of the worship ceremonies.
Archery competition is one of the most important competitions of Sabantuy. From the old times, Hun conquests, the bow was the necessary part of the horse-riding warriors’ equipment. This competition had requests to show one’s marksmanship — shooting at so called “web” (specially inosculated with threads), it was ceremony how to get rid of the evil (bows were associated with sun rays and spiders and their webs — the evil).
National kind of fighting “Kuresh” — is initially heroic kind of sports. The winners got the honored degree of the batyr (the best and the strongest national hero) and got the best present — national men’s dressing gown and a sheep, which was the symbol of the Sky protecting from the bad things.
Searching for the coin in the sour milk — is national fun which has deep sacral meaning. The Bulgarians and living near them Finno-Urgic tribes had their own legend about world creation. According to the legend, once the world consisted of water, and one day when a duck was swimming on its surface, it sank and picked up some soil from the bottom, from this part of the soil our world came out. Searching for the coin is the symbol of this myth.
Running with shoulder yoke. From the very early times people preferred to celebrate wedding in the best time of the year — summer. And after becoming a settled tribe our ancestors did not forget their traditions. Running with the shoulder yoke was a kind of brides observing, and that one who is the fastest among them and whose water bucket was still full that girl was the winner. But nowadays every person can take part in this funny competition.
Fighting on the wooden log- is the best competition to find the strongest, the most dexterous person. The wooden log was set with the orient North-South and the participants had to fight with bags filled with dried grass.
Breaking down the clay pot with closed eyes is very amazing, earlier it was the part of the worship ceremony. Participant has to break the clay pot with the long stick with closed eyes, once you succeed — the evil has gone.