This article highlights and analyzes the national traditions of modern Uzbek ethno-culture, in particular — the preparation of the Uzbek national dish «Palov» and all the traditional — cultural aspects, symbolism and rituals associated with this dish.
Keywords: national traditions, customs, «palov» (pilaf), cultural and social aspects, symbolism, rituals.
The variety of national traditions is endless, and the overwhelming majority of them have their own deep social meaning. Ignorance of the traditions of other peoples can lead at best to curiosities, at worst — to serious offense. Therefore, it is very useful to get acquainted with other people's customs, not to mention the fact that it is extremely interesting. Uzbek culture is its national cuisine. Unlike their nomadic neighbors, the Uzbek people had a solid and sedentary civilization for many centuries. In oases and fertile valleys, people cultivated grain and domesticated livestock. The resulting abundance of food has allowed the Uzbek people to express their unique tradition of hospitality. The seasons, especially winter and summer, influence the composition of the main menu. In the summer, fruits, vegetables and nuts are ubiquitous. Fruits in Uzbekistan grow in abundance grapes, melons, watermelons, apricots, pears, apples, quince, persimmons, peaches, cherries, figs, pomegranates and lemons. Vegetables are equally plentiful, including some lesser known varieties of green radish, yellow carrots, and the pumpkin family, in addition to the usual eggplant, peppers, turnips, cucumbers, and succulent tomatoes. The food of the Uzbeks consists of all kinds of vegetable, dairy and meat products. An important place in the diet is occupied by bread baked from wheat flour in the form of cakes (obi non, patir). Baked goods (including dessert ones) are also widespread. The range of dishes is very diverse. Dishes such as noodles, soups and porridge made from rice (shawla) and legumes (mosquitoes) are seasoned with vegetable or cow oil, sauerkraut, red and black pepper, and various herbs (dill, parsley, coriander, raikhan). Dairy products are varied — katyk, kaymak, sour cream, cottage cheese, suzma, pishlok, kurt, etc. The preferred meat is mutton, less often beef, poultry (chicken), horse meat. Pilaf is a national and favorite dish with over 100 varieties. Vegetables, fruits, grapes, watermelons, melons, nuts (walnuts and peanuts) occupy a large place in the diet. The main drink is tea, usually green.The famous and beloved national dish of the Uzbeks is pilaf. If the French have hundreds of varieties of cheese, the Belgians have beer, then the Uzbeks have about the same number of varieties of pilaf. No one knows the exact amount, since each region of Uzbekistan, and even a city, even a district, has its own characteristics of preparing a legendary dish. Perhaps the most famous are Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Fergana and Khorezm pilafs, although each of them has its own variations.
Pilaf is not just delicious and sweet food to the heart of every inhabitant of our country. The procedure of treating a large number of people with specially prepared pilaf — the so-called «morning pilaf» — is an element of the national tradition, an integral part of the wedding ceremony and other family celebrations, as well as memorial ceremonies. Morning pilaf is arranged in many regions of our country, and along with general moments, it has many specific features inherent in a particular area. Morning pilaf has a long history, and its original purpose is charity («ehson»): in connection with this or that event, the organizers, based on noble motives, «give» or «distribute» pilaf («osh berish», «osh tarkatish»). This is the spiritual and moral purpose of the morning pilaf, and this goal should traditionally be pursued by a person first of all, arranging an «event» in connection with the birth or wedding of a child, commemoration of a deceased loved one or for other significant occasions.
Morning pilaf also has a cultural and social dimension. Cultural is associated with the traditions and norms of behavior adopted in society. In this sense, it acts as an element of cultural self-expression, the cultivation of certain values, the preservation of traditions and norms of behavior. Rituals and traditions are collective tools for demonstrating and consolidating the cultural identity of a people. Among the Uzbeks, pilaf has long been established as a ritual meal at weddings and commemorations. The ritual meal has a great emotional impact on people, thereby influencing their sense of national identity, adherence to traditional values, worldview and behavior . The social aspect of the morning pilaf concerns primarily the relationship between people. Close social ties are a characteristic feature of our life. It is customary for us to do business and solve problems together; well-being, career, fate of a person, his position in society to a large extent depend on the structure and effectiveness of his social ties . In this context, the morning pilaf can be considered as a certain component of the regulation of social relations, a special way of social interaction of people and even as a form of self-affirmation of the family or individuals. From this point of view, it is the social interaction that takes place within the framework of the morning pilaf that comes to the fore. Although, of course, all three functions — spiritual, moral, cultural and social — are closely interrelated and interdependent.
Social psychology and symbolism
The Uzbek people are famous for their hospitality, many families treat weddings and lavish celebrations as «orzu-havas» — for them it is a certain «social dream». At the same time, many times visiting the morning pilaf, people perceive such hospitality as a kind of social good that must be returned to society. In other words, in social terms, morning pilaf can appear in two forms: a desired event and a duty, an obligation. An important practical function of the morning pilaf is the gathering by the event organizer of his relatives, friends and colleagues, contributing to their rallying.
It is known that a joint meal serves the psychological rapprochement of people, strengthening their social and interpersonal relations [5, 414- 419]. Morning pilaf often provides an opportunity to see those with whom it is difficult to meet otherwise. In this regard, it can be perceived as a kind of platform for business communication, where people can briefly discuss matters. Morning pilaf is an excellent communicative field for those who like to be among people, to show themselves and to look at others, to communicate with friends and strangers.
Morning pilaf is full of symbolism, has so many unwritten laws and hidden codes that inexperienced observers may simply not notice them. Morning pilaf demonstrates which social networks a person is included in, allows you to check the state of these social networks, identify and show others their main elements, as well as maintain and expand the system of interpersonal relationships. Participating in the morning pilaf, people will find out who is in which social networks, and this is necessary for orientation and functioning in society as a complex system of human ties and relationships [3, p. 1228 -1230]. Morning pilaf also serves as an indicator of the social status of both the hosts and guests. It is used to judge the connections and material resources of the organizers. The appearance on the morning pilaf of a large number of people, as well as persons with a high social status, adds weight to the owner in society.
A large and well-organized morning pilaf with many guests brings him «obru», i.e. public respect, recognition, increases status. Guests can also receive certain social dividends. Sometimes you can hear how one person boasts to another that he was on the morning pilaf with some famous person. In a fit of vanity, another may even declare that «this morning I ate pilaf with Eshmat Eshmatovich Eshmatov himself!», Although a certain famous Eshmatov may have only sat at the next table. Or, as if by chance, a person says to his acquaintance: «Something you weren’t seen today on Toshmatak’s morning pilaf...» This phrase, quite harmless at first glance, may actually mean a banal attempt to raise his own importance and reduce the importance of the interlocutor. Oh, these little human weaknesses...
Certain indicators testify to the success of the morning pilaf: where the event took place, how many people came, how much rice was put in the cauldron, what kind of rice it was, which famous people came, who met the guests, what was on the table besides pilaf, what singers and the musicians served the feast, was there any pilaf left after the guests, which of the famous chefs prepared pilaf — these and other moments are important from the point of view of «obru».
According to the unwritten law of morning pilaf, a large remainder of pilaf in a cauldron is a minus for the organizer's image. And when a lot of pilaf is cooked and yet it was not enough, it means that the owner is a respected person with many social connections in the person of friends and acquaintances. The serving cook, feeling a possible shortage of pilaf, begins to use little tricks. Putting pilaf in lagan, he makes the reduced portion look ordinary. Although it takes almost a whole night to prepare a large cauldron pilaf, sometimes, when it is needed, master chefs can perform a miracle by creating what is required in a very short time using express technologies — the power of social relations is above all. The quality of the pilaf itself is of fundamental importance: God forbid, if it turns out not tasty enough! For the owner, this is akin to losing face, public humiliation. Therefore, chefs who specialize in morning pilaf are always well-paid, skillful, famous and respected people. No wonder they are called «mouth» — master. The quality of the tea and cakes served during the morning pilaf is very important. According to experts, pilaf goes better with green tea. Many people do this, especially on hot days, but black tea is traditionally consumed in Tashkent.
The best flatbread is not just fresh, but hot. In addition to the traditional flatbread («yepgan non»), there may be other local varieties of bread on the table («patir», «screen non», jizzzali non», «gushtli non»). As a matter of fact, pilaf, tea and flatbread form the most important gastronomic component of the morning pilaf. But other elements of the treat also play a role, demonstrating the hospitality and capabilities of the host. For example, sugar, raisins and halva traditionally symbolize good aspirations and hopes. Fresh fruit, being a good dessert, is also designed to decorate the table. At the same time, according to some observers, pilaf, as a very high-calorie dish, does not particularly need to be served with other treats such as samsa, salads, pistachios, almonds, cakes, chocolate, sweets and the like. It turns out that a rich table on the morning pilaf is not intended to saturate the guests, but rather to enhance the social effect of the event. Quite simply, many additional treats are actually only needed to impress those present. However, they gradually become a kind of indicator of the prestige of the ritual treat [4, p. 627–631].
At the entrance to the building where the «dastarkhan» (dinner table) is served, guests usually greet those who meet them at some distance, but when parting, as a rule, they come close, shake hands with the main host and have the opportunity to have a short conversation. Morning pilaf is a sphere of oriental subtlety, sensitivity, politeness, signs of attention and respect. In addition to the spoken words, non-verbal signs are of great importance: posture, facial expression, movements, gestures, intonation of the voice... Clothes, gait, posture of each participant in the action can tell a lot about his personality, character, mental and physical condition — fortunately, the morning pilaf site gives a great opportunity for that. Quite similar psychological — identity descriptional approach can be observed within the Renaissance’s writers poetic works .
The culture of the East encourages group cohesion and loyalty, so many people agree in advance to meet at a certain time near the pilaf venue, or wait for a group to join. If this is pilaf in honor of the wedding, given, say, by the bride's side, then the groom's side comes in a separate group at a pre-agreed time. Such a group is seated in a specially allocated place of honor and served at the highest level. The group is always led by a person with a special status. As a rule, this is the oldest person in age. In our culture, as in many others, a person's position largely determines his social status, but in the ceremony of welcoming guests when they enter the hall, priority is given to age, just like in English culture of Renaissance period . A person, even in a higher position, follows the older one, regardless of the latter's position. Young people everywhere and in everything try to show respect to their elders. Since one lagan pilaf can be designed for two guests, it is customary for the young to grind the meat in it — this is a kind of service for the elders. Tea is also poured by those who are younger. It is not customary to get up from the table until everyone has finished their meal. With especially unperturbed patience, people wait while an elderly person, at times very leisurely, eats up pilaf.
It is preferable to cover tables during morning pilaf with white tablecloths. Usually 10–12 people sit at each table. Hot tea and fresh flatbreads are served before pilaf is brought. Teapots are brought after pilaf. People gathered around the same table form an integral mini-cell of morning pilaf as a social action. Everything that happens at the table should be coordinated: you should start and end the meal at the same time. This is assisted by the chief master of the ceremony, or «dispatcher» in charge of a particular table. He, as a rule, regulates ritual thanksgiving, blessings of heroes of the occasion or commemoration of the dead («fotiha»). On the memorial pilaf, it is customary to read a surah from the Koran («tilovat»); a specially invited person or one of the guests can do this for the whole hall. The rest join the ceremony.
The increased attention of the hosts to guests who occupy a prominent position in society due primarily to their positions can be expressed in the fact that they are often given a special room and served with special honor. Such a ranking, of course, cannot but arouse criticism in certain circles of modern society, but the tradition lives on [6, p. 95–97].
Performing various kinds of ritual actions, many people themselves do not fully realize or do not at all realize their meaning. Meanwhile, rituals and ceremonies, including the morning pilaf, have such a meaning — in particular, it consists in the consolidation and cultivation of certain social relations.
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