Yakutsk New Year

Travelling to Yakuts is not simple and it needs to be organized on time.So we now present Isijah, Yakuts’s New Year, which is celebrated in this cold far east Russian republic in June with shamans, yurts and horses, with prayers to Upper divinities and celebration of the majesty of Nature, all with enormous qualities of mare’s milk, kumis.

In longest summer days in Yakuts the celebration is held the holiday Isijah where people from whole Siberia gather.For Isijah is also said that it is Yakuts’ New year, celebration of new cycle, revival, greenery and blooming. Isijah is celebrated at the beginning of summer, but trip to Yakuts should be planned much earlier because the expenses of all visits , tickets and stays will be significantly smaller.

Yakut’s Isijah ( plenty) is connected to the cult of the sun god and fertility, and it really is the echo of previous pagan cults. The biggest celebration is organized in capital of Yakuta, where more than 150 thousand people gather. Elements of Yakut’s holidays have the similarities with summer holidays of Mongol Turkic peoples. In Yakut’s the old tradition is preserved characteristic for cattleman nations to divide year on two halves, and Isijah was some kind of border between old and new, between past and future.

The holiday begins with old ritual of spreading the fire and ground with koumis, the blessing of present people and plea to Upper divinities for blessings for all. All this is done by main shaman on the holiday. Few young men help him to spread the fire above which the shaman says greetings for gods, giving them the sacrifice of horsehair, fritters and koumiss- all this is given as a gift to the fire. Isijah is a family holiday . Every family prepare themselves in advance for festive, make new clothes and prepare their national speciality: salamat ( kind of polenta made of rye, barley or wheat flour), koumiss and bipah ( drinks made of sour milk). Then everybody dance a national dance Osuohaj , hold their hands and transfer positive energy one to each other and become soul mates in spirit. In songs they sing with festive dance the power of nature is magnified, its beauty and magnificence, as well as arrival of summer blessing and abundance. By the dance the main part of holiday finishes and the games begin on the meadow.

But, Isijah is not only cultural acts and prayers, but games , competition as well. In plenty of games the most important part has horse racing, because with Yakut’s the horse breediing is spread a lot. Since everything is connected to horses it represents the significant element in their lives. Many details of their rituals for example burning of horse hair or their tying the rope.

Koumiss is a drink made of mare’s milk, which is drank here for long time.For them koumiss is holy, heroic drink. By its sacrificing in Yakut they worship deities on holiday of Isijah. During the whole holiday from sacral cup, which is called “čoron” only koumiss is drank and alcohol drinks are not allowed.If somebody has never tried koumiss, the one should be overdoing because the body is not used on it and it could have indigestion problems.

The peak point of the holiday is the meeting of Sun. People in the evening gather on the big meadow. In the centre of the ritual is giving the gifts to the deities, and shaman says prayers. Only after the ritual everybody is allowed to enter the meadow where the dawn is awaited for.

Yakuts and guests who want to come on a holiday start with gathering in the town few days before in order to do last preparations and earlier come on the place of celebration. From Yakuts to the place of celebration the buses and mini buses traffic regularly . The one who doesn’t want to spend the whole days in the car line should arrive on the destination earlier. Some guest arrive a day earlier and put up their tents right in front of big tents.

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