Navruz in Kyrgyzstan

Marking the beginning of spring, Navruz (meaning March equinox) is one of the largest traditional holidays in Central Asia. Located in the heart of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan has been celebrating Navruz (Nooruz in Kyrgyz) for a long time as its national holiday. When the Navruz holiday comes, Kyrgyz families gather to make holiday desserts: sumolok and boorsok.

In the old times, sumolok was a ritual dish prepared before the start of spring sowing. Sumolok is a sweet paste made from germinated wheat and stir cooked in a kazan, a large traditional pot in Central Asia. Sumolok has become an important cuisine in Kyrgyz culture since almost all of Kyrgyzstan celebrates the holiday by making it. In villages and towns, families gather around a kazan full of sumolok and take turns to stirring the sumolok. Usually it takes a whole day and night to finish the cuisine, which is why a typical Navruz scene in Kyrgyzstan is pictured as a group of families sitting around a Kazan while singing and stirring sumolok.

Boorsok, on the other hand, is cooked faster than sumolok. Also a traditional sweet in Central Asia, boorsok is a type of fried dough in various shapes. Kyrgyz boorsok is typically shaped like a pressed doughnut.

This year, Boorsok National Record was held in the Arashan village near the capital city, Bishkek. The event was organized by Ethnographic Complex Kyrgyz Aiyli (meaning Kyrgyz village), successfully attracting an estimated 1,500 local residents and tourists. The main programs included making boorsok, singing songs, and competing in horse riding and other national games. The participants in the boorsok cooking competition used about a ton of flour and made more than 800 kg of boorsok. Later, boxes of boorsok were sent to nearby orphanages and the elderly in Arashan Village.

More information about Navruz is available in ICHCAP’s e-Knowledge Center.

Watch Other Navruz Videos

Navruz is celebrated throughout Central Asia, with each ethnic group having its own take on the holiday. The videos of Tajik and Uzbek celebrations below are from ICHCAP’s Central Asia ICH Collection.