The Ace of Kazakhs

I have long wanted to start writing about Kazakh customs and traditions. Someone will say that this is nonsense, a waste of time and nerves and a hobby of grandparents. I admit, I thought so for some time. My understanding of traditions and customs started when my parents needed to me to take them to various kinds of events, where they were invited to visit. And since it was not convenient for me to leave and then to comeback for them again, I stayed and sat at the table with the "adults." Today I want to tell you about the "Ace", which is a reception given a year after a person leaves this world and for the next three years and for round dates. It seems to be a sad excuse, but as it turns out nothing sad, but more light and emotional, when relatives and friends remember their close one. Guests tell funny stories about him and everyone laughs. Rarely, one lets a light tear. Ace is a semi-religious semi-traditional event. Since this is the worship of ancestors, it is forbidden in Islam, where only Allah is worshiped. Conducting the Ace proceeds from paganism, before the Arabs in the 7th century AD conquered the territory of modern Kazakhstan and imposed their religion on people lived there back then. But the Kazakhs, like many Turk people, have not forgotten their customs and continue to worship the spirits of their ancestors, while inviting Mullah from the mosque, that is, the representative of Islam. Kazakhs in general are very good "opportunists". The "program" of the Ace looks like this: If the Ace is held in a restaurant, the guests will gather at the appointed time and place. To be late for the Ace is not very good. This is the only event where Kazakhs are not late. A Mullah is always invited to the Ace, which begins with a prayer. Guests open their palms and read a prayer together with him. I want to say that representatives of other nationalities and religions are often invited to the Kazakh Aces. But all without exception are honorable guests and pray in their own way. Immediately after the prayer they proceed to the very "Ace", that is, to the meal. Ace is translated from Kazakh as "cook", "dish". An important part of the Ace is sacrifice (not in front of guests, of course). It's a ram or a cattle. Their meat is boiled and treated to guests. This leads to the exact translation: "to give Ace" - to cook and hand out meat. During the Ace guests speak not by invitation, but at will. This is not a toast. The speaker usually talks about what the person was, about his merits, where he was born and worked, who his children are. Friends, comrades talk about his achievements at work, funny stories, about how they spent their youth together. Mostly adults speak, young people keep quiet and listen. Interesting part of the Ace for me is the instruction of the mullah. He talks about surahs, the Koran, about the right and wrong. Mullah never calls for radical religiosity. More to the right way of life and thanksgiving to the Almighty. He explains things that are not obvious for not as much religious person as me. It is very interesting to listen to Mullah if the Ace is held at home in a narrow circle in a simple way. Usually it is called "tamak beru", which translates literally "to give a meal." So in this situation Mullah is more talkative and talks a lot about interesting things. Once the Mullah began his instructions and guests who listened attentively began to ask questions and a dispute arose between the guests and the Mullah. The guests are adults and naturally experienced and also know a lot about religious matters. Mullah was young and seeing that one cannot argue with "much knowing" guests decided to leave politely such a friendly company, referring to business. On some features of the Ace: women cover their heads (never faces) with a scarf, for men it is not obligatory. Guests are handed out small gifts: this is usually a shirt for men, young women are given handkerchiefs, and those who are older - cuts of material and a beautiful scarf. Particularly honorable guests leave the Ace with a jackets or chapan (Kazakh traditional outwear). Food on the tables must be distributed. It is believed that good wishes are distributed through handed out food, so the more is given the better. Well, this is my not very experienced vision of the Ace and I hope that it has brought to you a little piece of Kazakh culture.

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