Uzbek childbirth traditions

Childbirth customs in Uzbekistan

Wooden cradle (Beshik-Tuyi)

Beshik-tuyi is a ritual celebration, where the 40th day of life of the newcomer is celebrated and the baby is placed to the traditional Central Asian cradle for the first time. This event is the most ancient and widespread childbirth related rite in Uzbekistan like in other Central Asian countries as well. 

Normally such an event takes place on the 7th, 9th, 11th day after the birthday of the infant. All relatives, neighbors and family friends are involved in the preparation of the beshik-tui. Each region of Uzbekistan celebrates this ritual differently with minor variations. Furthermore, the ritual differs by the income level of the family: usually, rich families celebrate it with great splendor, and average-income families celebrate it modestly. 

Beshik (cradle) and all necessary things required for the infant are given by the infant mother’s relatives.  Cakes, sweets and toys are wrapped up in a tablecloth. Guests make gifts for the parents of the infant, as well as grandparents.

Circumcision Ceremony (Khatna Kilish)

The circumcision in Uzbekistan known as “Khatnaa-Kilish or Sunnatt-Toi” is ordained by Islam. And it is a celebration almost as big as a wedding. This ceremony is commonly celebrated in relation to boys at the age of 3, 5, or 7, years old. The celebration is controlled by representatives of the community Mahalla (local community). 

From the moment of a boy’s birth, the parents start making arrangements for sunnat-tuyi (ceremony of circumcision), gradually buying all necessary things. The relatives and neighbors help them to sew quilts, pillows, festal garments for a boy, prepare the presents. Before the ritual, the Imam read the Koran (the code of prayers) in the presence of old men coming from Mahalla. They set the table after they read Koran, and old men give their blessing to a boy. The boy is dressed in new clothes, brought by relatives and neighbors. 

The actual circumcision used to be performed at home in bed by a local medicine man however today they prefer to do it in the hospitals. After the procedure, family members are said to present the boy with gifts. In earlier generations, boys could expect to receive gifts to signal their assent to adulthood, such as their own horse. However today the gifts are generally more simple like a combination of candy and money, followed by a party with food and dancing.

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