Nauryz is a new year celebration for Mongolia’s Kazakhs, many of whom live in the Bayan Ulgii province. Kazakhs call the month of March ‘Nauryz’ – this is the time of renewed life which comes with the spring. The non-religious Nauryz celebrations take place on 21-22 March, the day of the spring equinox. People believe the more generous the celebration of Nauryz, the happier the year would be. A time to settle rivalries and disagreements, clear debts then fill all the vessels in the house with milk, airan (plain yogurt), grain, and spring water to bring good yields, fortune and plenty of rain during the coming year.
Mongolia’s western province of Bayan Ulgii is home to a Kazakh majority; they have a unique cultural heritage – music, handicrafts and, of course, the traditional Nauryz festival.
The festival is not just unique to Mongolia’s Kazakh community, Nowruz – as it also known – it is celebrated by an estimated 300 million people in Turkey, Albania, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran and by communities in India and around the world. In 2010, the United Nations declared 21 March as International Nowruz Day.