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Cultural Traces Around the World

The Spirited Art and Culture of Azerbaijan, Part 2 of 2

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The people of Azerbaijan are known for their hospitality. People greet each other with warm, open gestures. Serving deliciously brewed tea to is one of the ways Azerbaijani people welcome their guests.

The Azerbaijani people take pride in their colorful and elegant national clothes which they often wear for special occasions. Usually young girls opt for bright colors while married women wear more subdued colors. Men’s outfits are less elaborate than women’s, but an Azerbaijani man doesn’t go out without headwear called a “Papaq” and it’s considered a disgrace to lose it. On women’s kelaghayis, rugs, textiles or wall decorations, it’s common to find a motif in the shape of an almond with a curved upper end. It’s called a “Buta” and considered to be a symbol of Azerbaijan.

The happy and fortunate Azerbaijani people are blessed with a rich cultural heritage. This includes many traditional and modern dances, with each region having its own style. The traditional Vagzali dance is performed at weddings, to send the bride from her house to the house of the groom. For people in the Caucasus Mountains, the Lezginka is a very popular dance. It showcases the elegance of women and strength of men.

There are various fruit festivals like the Grape Festival, the Hazelnut Festival, the Persimmon Festival, the Apple Festival, and the most popular one of all, the Pomegranate Festival.

Pomegranate is also regarded as an auspicious symbol of fertility, prosperity, productivity, and abundance. For the people of Azerbaijan and surrounding countries, the first day of spring is called the “new day,” or Novruz, and is celebrated as a holiday in many countries along the Silk Road. The incoming spring symbolizes good being triumphant over evil and joy over sorrow. Prior to the celebration of Novruz, four Tuesdays in winter (Ilaxir cersenbe) are cheerfully celebrated with traditional rituals. On each of these Tuesdays, a ceremony is held to pay respect to one of nature’s four divine elements, water (su), fire (od), wind (yel) and earth (torpaq). On September 30, 2009, Novruz was inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The following year the United Nations declared March 21 as the International Day of Novruz.
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