By Ilse Cirtautas
Uzbekistan follows a now well-established custom since its independence in 1991. Every year on December 8, the Day of the Constitution, the guiding theme for the coming year is announced. For example, 2014 was the year of the “Healthy Child”, 2004 the “Year of Love and Compassion.”
The Uzbekistan government has declared 2015 to be “The Year of Attention and Care for Elder People.”
Such declarations are not empty words. On the contrary, the government spends a considerable amount on accomplishing the set goals of a given year.
The plans for 2015 will highlight the traditional respect Uzbeks pay to their elders, generally referred to as nuroniy keksalarimiz “our elders with faces shining with light”. Indeed, growing old means to grow wise.
A few lines of a hymn-like poem “To the Old” (Keksalarga), composed by the poet Erkin Vohid(ov), will give us an understanding of the status of the elders among Uzbeks:
Keksalik uy doim nurafshon, “Light fills the house where an Elder resides,
Keksalarga jonimiz qurbon. For the Old we sacrifice our lives,
Uyimizning to’rida bo’ling, Do take the seat of honor in our homes,
Tashlab ketmang bizni beomon. Don’t leave us without your concern.”
Dr. Ilse Cirtautas is a professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She has been active in Central Inner-Asian studies at the UW since 1968