Saturday, 24 November 2007

Mugham as a national music of Azerbaijan

Gaval - Tar - Kamancha

There are many different types of music in Azerbaijan. The national music in Azerbaijan is Mugham. The term Mugham is used at least 700 years. Mugham is the general name of the largest genre of traditional Azerbaijan music and is applied to all of its forms. Nevertheless they all carry their own names. Several comon features relate Azerbaijani mugham with Iran destgahs , Uzbek and Tajik shashkoms, Uygur mughams, Indian ragas, Arabian nubas and Turkish tegsims (destgahs, shashkoms, mughams, ragas, nubas,tegsims are one of the kind of national music in the following countries).

From the late nineteenth century the Azeri tradition has also distinguished seven basic mughams, called: Rast, Shyr, Segyakh, Shushmer, Chargyakh, Bayati-Shiraz, Khymayut, plus several accessory ones, including Shakhnar, Saranj, Bayti kyur, Khidzhaz, Gamar, and Makhur. These names go back to figurative attributes. For example, Shur means love or enthusiasm. Other names are numerical: Dugyakh comes from du, meaning two; and others are names of cities and countries, such as Irak and Khijaz. Furthermore, each of the tones is connected to a particular circle of moods and feelings: Shur to the lyrical, Rast to cheer, Segyakh to love, Chargyakh to passion and excitement, Bayati-shiraz to sadness, Shyumer to sorrow, and Khumayon to profound sorrow.

Mugham is performed by the group of performers. The group is composed of a singer – khanende (in azeri language) who plays on gaval (a musical instrument), tar (a musical instrument) and kamancha (a musical instrument). This group of performers is called “trio of mugham”. Because there are participating tree people. The text of mughams which singer songs are usually being the classics of Azerbaijan poetry such as Fizuli, Nizami Ganjavi, Khagani Shirvani and etc. By the way the text of mugham is called gazels. And singer is free to choose the kind of poem, but he should take into consideration the melodic peculiarities of mugham he performs.

Artistic values of Azerbaijani mugham for national culture and the culture of the whole world and its high sense acknowledged by highly authorized international organization UNESCO in 2003. UNESCO appreciated mugham as 'one of the masterpieces of the verbal and non-material heritage of the world.

Author: Rustam Rahimli
Azerbaijan University, the faculty of International Relations
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Mugham in the eyes of Azerbaijani Youth

As a national music mugham is famous in Azerbaijan. But if say true there are differences among the people who listens this type of music. In a concrete way we could say most of youth like to listen pop, rock and etc. music which exists in the world. But it doesn’t mean that there is no one who listens among the youth. For certify this thought I ask an interview from the students who studies at the school named after famous Azerbaijani singer Bulbul.

My first respondent was Shahin who is a singer for more than 7 years. He likes national Azerbaijani music – mugham because it is fundamental part of the Azerbaijani tradition. Continuing his speech Shahin noted that mugham contains the root of many foreign music. In order to proof his idea Shahin he remarked that the famous Austrian composer Iohan Sebastian Bach used in his fuga which calls “Re minor Takkata” the one of the seven main mughams of Azerbaijan which calls “Bayati-Shiraz”. Meanwile, Shahin noted that mugham looks similar azan but Azan is used for calling muslems to pray. The same time Shahin said that he adores Austrian classical music and in order to aquaintance with Austrian and Lithuanian national music he offers to organize a culture night together with Austrian and Lithuanian musicians.

Javad Javadzadeh – he is a tar player. It is already 6 years he plays tar. For Javad mugham is a national wealth of the Azerbaijan nation. The musical instrument which he plays Javad considers special because of its sounds. He specially noted that there are most of children who goes to musical schools are motivated by parents in Azerbaijan. Javad offers to organize mutual concert programs with Austrian and Lithuanian young musicians also. He sure that this suggestion could create and improve multilateral friendship relations among Azerbaijan – Lithuanian – Austrian youth.

Farida Asgerova – she is a Kamancha - player. She plays kamancha for 10 years. Farida said that she adore azerbaijanian national music because of it’s different one. Answering the question about future plans Farida said that she wishes to give a concert in the Europe with national ensemble.

As you have read above all students from the musician school wish to make mutual and multilateral relations with Lithuanian and Austrian youth and want to share theirs culture with other nations. But they need any support to realize theirs wish and may be this project will be more profitable for them or for all youth generation of Azerbaijan in this issue.

The end

Author: Rustam Rahimli
Azerbaijan University, the faculty of International Relations
E-mail address:
Msn address:

Ramadan Holiday: Every person is the same in front of God

The 30 day Islamic holy month of Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayer and celebration.


Fasting means letting nothing pass the lips no food, drink, chewing gum, tobacco smoke or, for the strictly observant, not even licking an envelope or postage stamp from sunrise to sunset. Observant Muslims also refrain from sexual intercourse during daylight in the holy month. Most Muslims, whether strictly observant or not, use the holy month and the stricture of fasting to help the examine their lives, to remind themselves of virtues like charity, compassion and forgiveness, and to avoid vices like cupidity, selfishness and dishonesty.


Ramadan is also a time of celebration and after sunset the feasting begins with a carnival “break fast” light meal called iftar. It always includes freshly-baked flat pide bread and usually soup, pickled vegetables, olives and other easily- prepared edibles. Elaborate dinners are held later in the evening. Strings of colored lights festoon trees and buildings, mosques are illuminated and crowded with worshippers. A carnival atmosphere prevails with temporary booths, selling religious books and paraphernalia, traditional snacks and stuff for the kids. In the middle of the night drummers circulate through towns and villages to wake sleepers so they can prepare Sahur, the big early-morning meal to be eaten before the fast begins again at sunrise. Many restaurants offer special banquet-like Ramadan menus at night. Some restaurants which normally serve alcoholic beverages may refrain from doing so during the holy month, offering fruit juices and other drinks instead. It would be polite for you to observe this stricture if you are in an establishment where others are refraining from school.

Fasting means internal purification of human by refusing to eat and devote the time for praying to God. Ramadan also aims to remind wealthy people that there are poor persons and ……. By fasting. They feel the hunger and can clearly understand the feelings of the poor. Most medical experts agree that fasting is very useful for the health. That is during the fasting, the organism of humans passes into the stage of resting. Thus, internal organs can be purihed from damaging elements. Holy book of Muslim Quran says that ill persons, pregnant women and very old person can avoid the fasting as their health condition can be detorriared without the meals, drinks or drugs. The energy that can be spent the consumption of meal is spent for the strengthen the body, especially the functions of the liver.

LEMAN GAIDOVA- 18 years old, student
- The last day of fasting It's name is Id-al-Fitr holiday. As it is shown from the name of this holiday, the faithful, who was fasting for a month, had to bring fitr (food) to the representative of the clergy. Fitr is a gift. It is usually food or money, and quite often both. During this holiday there are a lot of congratulations, entertainment's and visiting.
Seymour Kazimov

The Holiday of Sacrifices

After gaining the independence in 1991 Azerbaijan got an opportunity to restore its national moral and religious values, the history of which traces back to the ancient times. The restoration of national values means that people return to the old traditions which were forcedly forgotten once. Qurban bayrami was one of the oldest national holidays which was celebrated in all Muslim countries. Being an independent and muslim country, today Azeri people celebrate it as on official holiday. During this holiday wealthy families have to sacrifice a sheep or other animal, such as lamb, chicken, etc., and distributed its meat among seven poor families. It symbolizes the compassion towards all poor. It also calls people to help each other. In the holy Gurban holiday governmental and international organizations give material and moral assistance to many mortar families the handicapped and very old people, refugees and children in orphanages.
Ilkin Hajiyev- 20 years old, student
- This holiday is connected with the Biblical prediction about the prophet Abraham (Ibragim), who wants to sacrifice his son Isaac (Ismail) to God. At the last minute God sends the archangel Gabriel (Jabrail) with a lamb and saves Abraham's son. To commemorate this day, each Moslem must sacrifice (gurban) a sheep or some other animal, while reading prayers and then distribute the meat among the poor.
Seymour Kazimov

Muslim's New Year

This Azerbaijani tradition is one of the most interesting. Novruz is a feast of spring, coming of New Year. Before Novruz Azerbaijanis celebrate a number of previous days saying good bye to the Old year and welcoming the New year. These days are the four pre-holiday Wednesdays: Su Chershenbe (Water Wednesday),Odlu Chershenbe (Fire Wednesday), Torpag Chershenbe (Earth Wednesday) and Akhyr Chershenbe (Last Wednesday). According to the traditional beliefs the water is reborn on the first Wednesday: still waters come to motion; The fire does on the second one, the earth - on the third. On the fourth Wednesday the wind opens tree buds and spring begins. Many ceremonies and devotions are dedicated to this day. For example in the evening each family should light the number of torches on their house's roof corresponding to the number of the family members. Everyone should jump over the burning fire saying a kind of a spell. After the fire dies out girls and young men collect the remaining ash and pour it somewhere in the outskirts of the village or a road. It means that the hardships of those who have jumped over the fire are destroyed and thrown out far beyond their homes. In order to find the happy match unmarried girls throw black coins, a sign of bad luck, to a water-filled jug during the daytime and in the evening before sunset they pour this water out together with the coins outside. On "Akhyr Cheshenbe" before dark there comes the time of fortune telling. Azerbaijani girls and young men sneak to doors of their neighbors and "overheard" their conversation; then on the basis of the first words they have heard they try to tell their fortune and guess if their wishes will come true. On this day many families also tell fortunes using Khafiz book. Among holiday ceremonies the most important one is the cooking of samani (millet porridge) which is a symbol of nature and human fertility and has a cult value. The ceremony of the cooking of samani is accompanied by ceremonial songs and dances. The last day of the old year is considered a special feast by Azerbaijanis. On the holiday eve entire family gather at home. For the head of the family a special mat is laid. He says prayers; no one is allowed to eat without his permission. As soon as the gun shot sounds signaling the beginning of the meal, the mistress brings in milk pilau. If the gate is open on this day it means that the host is at home. If visitors come to the house they are welcomed by the eldest son or the nephew of the host. The guest is then offered rose water for hand washing and invited into the house. The head of the family gives a sign and the tea is immediately served for the guest. Such visits are paid for three days. Then there comes the women's turn to celebrate Novruz for a week. On the last night of the old year all family members spray each other with water before going to bed "to wash off" all hardships of the old year.

Finally the holiday starts. Everyone puts on new clothes and begins partying. Nobody works on this day. Today in Azerbaijan the official celebration of Novruz comes on March 21st. On the first day of the New year it is a tradition to rise early in the morning. If it is possible people go where water is -to a river or a spring: wash themselves, splash water on each other. Water is a symbol of cleanliness and freshness. Right there they treat each other with sweets. On this morning it is obligatory to eat something sweet for example honey or sugar. Then it is necessary to smell a fragrant smoke that is the way of getting rid of "evil spirits". The holiday table on this day is very special. It is essential on this day to have seven dishes whose names begin with the letter "s". They are sumakh, skad (milk), sirke (vinegar), samani (aspecial millet porridge), sabzi (greens) etc . Except for the listed dishes there should be a mirror, a candle and a painted egg on the table. All these have a symbolical significance: a candle means light or fire protecting a person from evil spirits. An egg and a mirror are necessary to mark the end of the old year and beginning of the first day of the new. Azerbaijanis put the painted egg on the mirror. As soon as the egg moves the New Year begins. Everyone sitting at the table starts wishing a happy new year to each other. As a rule during holidays the doors are not locked. It means that the family is home and glad to welcome guests. Children visit their friends and relatives with little bags for holiday presents. On the first day of the New Year the houses should be lit all night long. Putting the light off is a bad omen. New Year celebrations are finished on the 13th day of Novruz. On this day in the city outskirts are held mass parties with traditional games and contests like horse or camel races in which both men and women take part. The ancient spring holiday - Novruz bairamy - is one of the oldest and most beautiful Azerbaijani traditions.

Elmin Hasanli- 19 years old, student-journalist
Novruz is an ancient and evergreen holiday. It has been always celebrated with special warm feelings. For every Azeri Novruz is an image of spring the nature awakening from a winter sleep associated with generous fertility of Land and purity of Water. The traditions and customs connected with Novruz Holiday came from the depth of centuries.

- LEMAN GAIDOVA- 18 years old, student.
I think that all inAzerbaijan love this holiday. Especially, young boys and girls.Most of all boys. Because before Novruz holiday four weeksevery Tuesday- fire, water, air and place Tuesday they burnfires in yards. They jump over fire. Then there are many gamesthat boys can play. I can name "Kosa- Kosa" and others. Butregretfully that I cant say how they play in this games. Womenbefore Novruz holiday clean rooms, cook manysweets,cooookies and others. Young girls help their mothers.Then when Novrus comes all nature awaks from winter sleping.Tr ees, flovers, blossoms. Many birds fly from hot countries.They sing their songs, build their nests among trees. I think thatthis holiday is Azerbaijan but also in all muselman countries. Ilike Novruz!

Ilkin Hajiyev- 20 years old, student
- Novruz is a family holiday. In the evening before the holiday the whole family gathers around the holiday table laid with the various dishes to make the New Year rich. The holiday goes on for several days and ends with festive public dancing and other entertainment of folk bands, contests of national sports. In rural areas crop holidays are marked.

Samir Kazimov- 20 years old, security
- As a tribute to fire-worshiping every Tuesday during four weeks before the holiday kids jump over small bonfires and candles are lit. On the holiday eve the graves of relatives are visited and tended.

Aysel Azadxanova- 17 years old, pupil
- Preparations for Novruz start long before the holiday. People do house cleaning, plant trees, make new dresses, paint eggs, make national pastries such as shakarbura, pakhlava and a great variety of the national cuisine. Wheat is fried with kishmish (raisins) and nuts (govurga). It is essential for every house to have "semeni" - sprouts of wheat.

Seymour Kazimov, Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Managment, independent journalist

Lost paradise

Today drug abuse has became misfortune of more than 18.000 family in Azerbaijan. This is official statistic. If we mean non-official figures, it will be be clear that how many families are suffering. This disease is created by the help of dependence pills or medicines. Of course. It influences physics and psychological moods of man. Nowadays drug addiction has spread among the young’s. First of all it depends on environment. Second, these people interested in matters, that they “friends” use. This tendency goes on sometimes. To be unconscious, to be stupefied. This fact involves young’s to drug. Afterwards they could not be free. And treatment such illness is very difficult. Our hero ( his conditional name is Mamed) who wants to hide his personality denotes that he is sacrifice of drug.


One day we went to my friend’s birthday. After dinner my friend called us to his garden and showed us ine bush and told. This is cannabis Then put out his match box from his pocket. It was dired, dessicated cathana. Some of our friends denied. But I wanted to try, so I accepted suggestion. This feeling was very interesting for me. As through I was unweightly. After sometimes I wanted to live in this situation repeatedly. Being in this situation I also smelled glues. I felt that these don’t compensate my needs. So I tried to sit on injection. My parents were so wealthy. I could get a lot of money as I want. Certainly, they did not know anything about it. One day me and my friend began to feel ourselves very bad after injection. Both of us were in overdose. When I opened my eyes I saw myself in hospital. In spite of I was alive, but doctors could not save my friend’s life. The words of doctor “If u don’t give up this poison ur faith will be like ur friend’s life” on this time I began to struggle with myself. I called: “Enough”. But without injection my mood was getting bad. I could not answer my behaviors, conducts. I beat my head to the wall. And I applied to the narcological centre.


Mamed’s situation was very bad when we found him. We tired so much for his life. I remember that place, where we found him. This place is still in front of my eyes. It looked like car garage. There were two beds. Into was bad smell. There were empty vodka bottles and many syringes on the table…


We did not know that Mamed is drug addicted. After this we had a problem in our family. His father did not endure and died. It is very difficult to me struggle again this alone. I spent all our property for treatment my son. I feel myself so bad while visiting him. I can not sleep at nights. My nervous has got bad. I am afraid of. I don’t want to lose my son in front of my eyes.

Here are the ideas of young azeri people about the drug abuse

Elmin Hasanli- 19 years old, student-journalist

Drug abuse has a wide range of definitions related to taking a psychoactive drug or performance enhancing drug for a non-therapeutic or non-medical effect. Some of the most commonly abused drugs include alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine,
and opium alkaloids.

Samir Kazimov-20 years old, security

Use of drugs may lead to criminal penalty in addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, both strongly depending on local jurisdiction.

Vafa Jafarova- 23 years old, journalist

Although being addicted implies drug dependence, it is possible to be dependent on a drug without being addicted. People that take drugs to treat diseases and disorders, which interfere with their ability to function, may experience improvement of their condition.

Unknown person

Such persons are dependent on the drug, but are not addicted. One is addicted, rather than merely dependent, if one exhibits compulsive behavior towards the drug and has difficulty quitting it.

Seymour Kazimov, Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Managment, independent journalist.

Heroic or erotic characteristics?

Have you ever danced national azeri dances?
Most Azerbaijani youth like to spend their spare time in the clubs. Here they want to get together and do some fun. One of these fun things is dances. In the clubs the young people learn national azeri and foreign (modern) dances.

Azerbaijani dances, like literature and music, are well-known all over the world. Azerbaijani national dances play an important role among world dances. . Well-known Azerbaijani dances include Uzundere, Vagzali, Terekeme (Nomadic Man), Papaq, Innabi, Cutcu, Yalli, etc. The men’s dance brightly symbolizes courage, bravery and youthful enthusiasm.

The Yalli propagates unanimity, unity and collectiveness. This dance is performed by a group of people and whoever doesn’t dance properly is “fined” by the chieftain who makes him sing a song or dance another dance. Vagzali is played when the bride is seen off from her family’s house to the house of the bridegroom and her departure is reflected in this dance.

Gangi (martial music) calls all people to unity, friendship and invincibility.

Uzundere is a kind of a long dance, which traditionally used to be performed when the bride and bridegroom were on the road.

The dancer performing the Banovsha (Violet) lives with his feelings, showing how the violet grows from the ground, blooms and fades. This dance shows the gazelle’s (lyrical poem ) gracefulness and elegance. It is performed by men and women.

Mirzabeyi is traditionally played at wedding parties and performed by men and women with handkerchiefs in their hands.

Innabi is the name of a fruit. It is a girl’s dance and performed by one or two girls. The dancers show reflects the spirit of a woman and graces as well as coquetry.

Tarakame is a dance of a nomadic people. Those who are dancing extend their arms and go forward with their heads up. This dance is filled with the feelings of freedom and expansiveness. Both men and women perform it.

Azerbaijan’s national dance shows the characteristics of the azeri nation. These dances differ from other dances with its quick temp and optimism. And this talks about nation’s braveness. It is shown in our national dances as well. And national clothes were saved only in our national dances. For example, we can see it in girls or boys dances. Girls dance very gracefully and boys bravely.

Azeri youth shows our national dances in the wedding. Even azeri youth held competitions in the parties to define who could dance best and more than others. And at the end winner gets prize as awards. Actually, it is not easy to be winner in the competitions, as our dance requires to be quick and flexible. If you want to learn azeri national dances you should try harder. But it must not discourage you from dance. Because, by learning these dances you could feel like a real Caucasian. And it should stimulate you.

I interviewed several azeri young people concerning the differences between national and modern dances. One of my respondents was 19 years old. Agil prefers modern dances. About differences, he noted that our national music was created on hero shepherd who feeds the sheep. And there are more erotic characteristics in modern dances. Another respondent Fidan, 21 year old, noted that Caucasian dances differ from other nations. This difference connected with their lifestyle.

Traditionally the common part of Azerbaijani dances is that they mainly about friendship, invincibility and courage. And so our dance is quick, graceful and emotional.

We are going to hold a party today. Everybody expects this party impatiently. I think this party will be more interesting because we are going to show our national dances in this party. Meanwhile, it is expected to have modern dances as well. I wanted to know the thought of people who will present in this event. The first respondent was Giedre who is from Lithuania. At first I asked from Giedre what she expected from this party. Giedre answered that she expected much fun and good atmosphere. The second question of mine was that whether she saw or ever danced Azerbaijani national dances. She answered that she wanted to use the advantages of this party and dance Azerbaijani dance. I asked from her what national dance Lithuanian had. And she answered that “Kepurine” was a national dance of Lithuanian. It is danced with a hat. Continuing her speech she noted that at the parties usually prefers modern dances.

My other respondent was Ilkin and he shortly said that the party would perfect and all would enjoy of it. And finally Ilkin promised that he would show Azerbaijani national dance to the guests from Lithuania and Austria.

I think this party is a good opportunity for us to show Azerbaijani national dances to foreigners.
Be ready!!! We will show and teach you our national dances soon. Meanwhile, we expect from you that you will teach us your national dances.

Lamia Mammadova
E-mail address:

Is it possible to live the same schedule in different ways?

To wake up at seven o’clock, have breakfast, go to school, and return from school … Is it familiar to you? It is a daily schedule of Azeri school children. It is possible that he or she could not wake up at seven o’clock, or push the button “off” of the alarm clock or throw it out of the window and fall asleep again. But ... usually we don’t like to be late for the school. I usually prefer to sleep more instead of having my breakfast. As soon as my parents call me, I wake up, quickly dress up and run to my school.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the concept of traditional school uniforms disappeared in Azeri schools. But beginning from this year, with the decision of our Minister of Education, we go to school in school uniforms.

Although our daily schedule may seem the same, we spend it differently referring to our interests and traditions.

For example, Togrul Huseynov, the student of piano class in Musical School named after Bulbul, likes classical music, especially enjoys listening to works of Beethoven. He works hard on his studies. At the same time, he is going in for swimming. He reads a lot and likes to read the pieces from Djalil Mammadguluzade, prominent Azeri write, and Lev Tolstoy from foreign literature. He thinks that it would be better for school children to be engaged with sport, music and modern technology, rather than computer games.

Shahin Yagubzade is the singer of national music and wants to represent Azerbaijan mugam (national music) in the world. He also learns the skills of music composing and even composes short pieces. After school, he goes to play football. Shahin does not like drawing and labor subjects. He thinks that there should be an opportunity for them to make an individual choice between these subjects. So that everybody could go to the creative clubs which they prefer.

Shahin says that if he had a chance to meet with Austrian and Lithuanian students, he would like to show then national cuisine of Azerbaijan. He would present them national meals such as, plov, dolma, piti and sweets like shakarbura, pakhlava, gogal. “Probably, they haven’t tasted these wonderful meals. It is true that I am not familiar with their national cuisine and culture as well, but mutual acquaintance would be useful for both sides”, he says.

Turkan Musayeva studies in the class of musical theory. Turkan would like to know whether the Europe has public schools which provide the education in music and common school subjects at the same time.

Turkan is not satisfied with the level of education which she receives in her school. She thinks that this is the reason why school students spend most of their times to the preparation courses or private tutors.

Farida Asgarova is also a school student and likes to read book and play volleyball in her leisure times. She is worried about why the Russian language is not taught in current school. Playing chess is one of favorite hobbies of Nigar Suleymanova. Nigar likes the gymnastics as well.

Besides, she is interested in rock music. But she also says that she respects mugam, jazz and other genres of music.

After school, Nuray Rahanli spends her time with her friends. She enjoys walking in beautiful places, especially in seashore together with her friends. She thinks that the Caspian Sea gives special beauty to Baku. She likes shopping a lot. “I do not miss the discount season in Baku and closely aware of such places where large discounts are offered”, she says. She wants to see more dance, music and drawing clubs in Baku. Nuray thinks that it becomes more difficult to enter to universities and the number of young people without high education increases. She is also concerned about the few number of newspapers and magazines for the young people in Azerbaijan.

Nicat Macidov thinks that the interest to private and paid schools has increased in our country. To provide their children with high quality education, parents put their children to paid schools in which the main language is not native language but for example, English or Turkish. She would like to know whether European schools have such problems and what measures are taken to avoid such cases.

The eleventh year student Leyla Muradzade likes to obtain information from different sources, analyze and make conclusions out of it. She has interest to write stories, although it is hard for her to find time for it. She wants to become a designer and learns new computer programs.
School student Murad Masimov likes to play the guitar, billiard and create web sites. He would like to see more computers in schools and modern equipments in gyms of schools.

The editor in chief of the wall paper of her school, Nazrin Rahimli likes the history very much. Because in this subject, she learns about interesting historical events and monuments, as well as follows the development stage of music and literature. She reads many newspapers and magazines and wants to become a journalist in the future.

The student of the eighth grade Shafiga Hasanli is a member of dancing group in the Child Theater. She says that she made her first performance when she was only 2. At that time, the stage was very cold and there was a big audience. “At first, I was afraid to go to the stage, but later I got used to it. Now, I do not get so much nervous and it seems very interesting to me”, she says.

Although Azeri school students get the education in accordance with the same curriculum and program, they have their own interests, talents, hobbies and habits. They would like to show the history, traditions, mugam, dances and cuisine of Azerbaijan to their peers living in Lithania and Austria. They would like to discuss problems, how to solve them and share experience with them.

What about you? What would you like to share with us?

Arzu Hasanli,
11th year student in Baku Ataturk Lyceum

MAGIC WINDOW: Historical monuments once built for one mission, acquires another mission today

We know that Austria and Lithuania have many historical monuments which the youth of this country often visit. For example, Lithuania has Trakai Island Castle located in Trakai Island on the Lake Galve which was built in 14th century and Austria has Stephasplatr, a square at the geographical centre of Vienna which was built in 13th century. And we also have historical monuments which Azeri youth visit constantly. One of these places is Maiden Tower which is situated in Baku city.
The Old City is one of the most ancient places of Baku city. Old City has many historical monuments which are famous in the world, such as the Shirvanshahlar Palace, mosque, bath house (hamam) and karvansaray which were inhabited by merchants in ancient times. Another important and famous historical monument is the Maiden Tower. For its structure and form, the Maiden Tower is a unique monument in the whole East. There exist different versions and legends on how this castle was built. But I would like to find out what the Azeri youth know about the origin of this historical monument and what versions they do have about its construction.

Asef is a student of the secondary school № 82 in Baku city. He said that today they have different opinions about Maiden Tower. “We see this tower as a symbol of unity. After finishing the high school, our class planed to come here regularly and remember previous times. And we have already chosen the day on which we will come here. We decided to meet here on 22 December every year after the graduation.” When I asked the reason of such choice they replied that recently they have invented a very interesting fact. On 22 December it is possible to see the coming winter through the windows of the Tower. That is why its all Magic window.
This fact was also confirmed by the guide in Maiden Tower. In addition, she told me that Maiden Tower was built in the shape of Buta. In old times, Buta symbolized love and unity in the Eastern countries.
Today, every year on May 31, many young people from Baku and surroundings come to this tower because it is the graduation day of all Azeri schools. Young people play, dance, sing and song and show the theater and organize other games.
Traditionally, newlyweds come and visit the Maiden Tower on a wedding day.
All this process happens around Maiden Tower. And this time also Maiden Tower symbolizes love and unity.
To sum up, I want to say that we want to visit Austrian and Lithuanian historical monuments and know about from they and we want receive youth from Austrian and Lithuanian and show our historical monuments.

Ayaz Abushov

MY SISTER’S WEDDING: Wonders of Azerbaijani National Weddings (Part I)

Family is the first and crucial column of the society. In different countries, families are formulated for the same purposes but in different ways. How is it created in Azerbaijan? How Azeri people formulate their families? And the main question, how Azeri people “get married”?

Well, it is rather a long, complicated, multi-leveled, but very enjoyable process. Azerbaijan National Wedding is not just a celebration, it is a ritual performance. Tying the family knot in our country is a matter of huge importance or even the cause of life. A traditional wedding with its inalienable attributes is some kind of a symbol for an Azerbaijan, because it turns an unexplored but the most important page in the book of life and branded in memory as the most unforgettable event. I am going to speak about the wedding traditions of Azerbaijan which recently I have closely witnessed. The thing is that a week ago my sister got married and I will try to elucidate every stage of this marriage which is the wedding reality of today.

Stage of Acquaintance and Preliminary Preparation

In one of sunny days, my sister came home and told us, my Mom and me, that there was somebody in her life who had serious intentions towards her and his family would like to come and know our family. We were happy because she was the first girl among our close relatives who was going to marry and everybody around us constantly was asking when the expected wedding would be. So my mother had a private conversation with my father and our parents agreed to their visit. So, the first stage, getting to know each other, started. In this part, only female relatives come to the bride’s house and get official consent to send their leaders that is men of the family for official agreement. After it, the “agsaggals” that is the oldest relatives from guy’s family visits the house of the girl candidate. This visit is called in Azerbaijan as “elchilik” that is wooing when groom side explains its intentions and asks the parents of the girl whether they are agree to give their daughter to marry. If girl’s family do not agree to this, or need more time to know the guy’s family, they serve tea without sugar which will mean “no”. If they are agree, they ask to bring cups of tea mixed with sugar. As my sister told us that he was the exact person she was looking for, my family did not resist to her decision and we naturally served a tea with sugar. Traditionally dinner is served by the sister or other close relatives of the bride and accordingly I played an important role in this ceremony.

After such successful visit to the bride’s house, the engagement process is arranged. During the engagement ceremony, groom’s family brings a wedding ring and wears it to the finger of the bride. It symbolizes that this girl already belongs to that person. The period of engagement can vary in different regions of Azerbaijan and it mainly depends on the financial conditions of both sides. If they have such opportunity, they try to make the period of engagement as short as possible and even skip it sometimes, passing to the wedding directly. So, both of our families agreed to organize the wedding after three months. Thus, most difficult stage started…

Aynura Alakbarova,
Master student of Azerbaijan University of Languages

MY SISTER’S WEDDING: Wonders of Azerbaijani National Weddings (Part II)

Wedding Preparations

After the engagement, the preparation for the wedding starts. One of the interesting and difficult parts of it is connected with a dowry. Traditionally, the dowry of the bride given by her family shall include all necessary items of life, such as, furniture, sofa, bed, fridge, television set, etc. It is the duty of the girl’s family to provide all of these, but in some cases, groom’s side also may help in the purchase of some items. But the main duty of the groom’s side is to arrange the wedding and buy a house for young couple which is quite expensive now. So, the endless visits to different shops have started. It was really tiresome and complicated process for us, as you have to buy everything, with high quality and at least the most necessary ones.

Traditionally, two or three days before the wedding ceremony, we arrange another ceremony which is called “khina yakhdi”(painting hands with khina) during which all women from both families, including the bride, paint their hands with special substance called “khina”. Khina is a greenish powder which is mixed with water and then spread over the hands in different shapes which acquires orange color on the hands, after washing it. It symbolizes that soon these families are going to have a wedding. I have never been before to this ceremony as it includes very close relatives of both sides and it was quite exciting to see everybody with colorful hands.

At the same time, during this process, the women from the side of groom bring presents for the bride, her parents and other close relatives. In some regions of Azerbaijan, all presents for the bride are publicly demonstrated to show how they value their new bride. The more the number of the presents is the more prestigious the family of the bride groom will be accepted. Besides, in some parts, a very special presents like diamond rings or other valuable things are introduced to the mother of the bride as a symbol of gratefulness for the bringing up of a good daughter. So it was positively surprising for me when I have learnt that there was a present for me as well. It was a very nice flower bowl which is an integral part of Azeri girl’s dowry. I guess it was another hint for me.

Aynura Alakbarova,
Master student of Azerbaijan University of Languages

MY SISTER’S WEDDING: Wonders of Azerbaijani National Weddings (Part III)

Wedding Ceremony

Today, the wedding ceremony in Azerbaijan is organized in a huge building called “shadlig sarayi” (palace of happiness) which may fit three of four hundreds of guests. I must mention that our old weddings, took place in a special tent, called “Palatka”. It was a large tent where large tables and chairs were set for all guests. There was also a special place for musicians and a singer. Today, this tradition is preserved in some regions of Azerbaijan.

The number of guests can vary, mainly depending on financial conditions of the parents and how much they have friends, relatives, etc. Sometimes if the number of relatives from both sides is very big, then two separate weddings are arranged. The first one is arranged for the relatives of the bride and the second for the relatives of the groom, approximately 250-300 persons in each. Today the number of unique weddings increases, because the prices are very high and most young people would like to wear wedding dress only once. After a long discussions, both of our families agreed to make the wedding together, with approximately three hundred persons.

Before going to the wedding place, in the accompany of musicians, the groom together with his close relatives come to the house of the bride to take her to the “shadlig sarayi”. When they arrive to the house, the first step is to tide a red silken belt around the wedding dress of the bride. It should be done either by the brother of other close male relative of the groom. Red belt symbolizes the purity of the bride. As our groom did not have a brother, this responsible duty was handled to his cousin. The person who do this belt tiding, receive a present from the bride’s side. So, his cousin got a very nice skirt which by the way was chosen by me. Then, my parents gave their blessings to their daughter, in other words gave their recommendations on how to become a good wife and mother in her future family. Then my father took her by the hand and they circled around the lit lamp three times. It symbolizes the eternal fire which brings the happiness to the family. During this ceremony, most of bride’s family, including the bride, may cry. It is accepted as normal and we were not an exception. Because it is always a bit sad when a member of your family leaves you and starts the independent life. The bride and groom leave the house in the accompany of a traditional song called “vagzali”. So, after this ceremony, our bride and groom headed to the wedding place in luxurious white Chrysler, although there were times when the bride was brought to the wedding place in a horse coach.

Till very recent times, our national weddings traditionally were conducted by a person called “tamada”. He controlled the wedding and arranged the sequence of guests who were going to say a toast in the wedding. The speech of tamada was occasionally accompanied with lyrical poems, which transferred the atmosphere of the wedding to sad notes. But today, tamadas are not widely used, as people think that it takes more time for the talk. They want to hear music and have fun rather than making long speeches. Also, another specific parts of our weddings was “shabash”. It was the money which was thrown above the dancing guests in dancing floor. After the end of the dance, this money was collected and presented to the families of the couple. Today instead of it, the guests coming into wedding gives money gift as a present so that new couple could arrange the expenditure of it for themselves.

It can be interesting for you to know that there was a time in Azerbaijan when the newlyweds could not dance in their weddings. It would not be accepted by the society. Although, we live in modern society, there still some old and middle aged people who still do not like when the bride and groom dance a lot in weddings. But today modern couples dance as much as they want, referring to the point that the rules are established to break them. In our wedding, the newlyweds danced as much as they wanted, and actively invited other guests to dance with them. It should be so, as it was their day. We had a great wedding that I will never forget.

After the end of the wedding, on arrival to the new house, the bride has to break a saucer which means that she will be the leader of the family. Although in most Azeri families, it is not always the case that is men remain as a leader of the family.

In the end, I just want to say that no matter our tradition is, the main goal is to achieve the eternal happiness and peace with the one you have chosen to live your life with.

Aynura Alakbarova,
Master student of Azerbaijan University of Languages

Friday, 23 November 2007


This is the blog that was created by young people on 23 November on the seashore of the Caspian sea near Baku city. Young people from Azerbaijan gathered for the educational workshop of the project "South Caucasus - a part of Europe" where they learned how to use different kind of medias. This blog was created by the print group during this workshop.

You will be able to find articles written by the print group on this blog and we hope this blog will be used frequently and we will establish a contact among young people from Azerbaijan, their friends from South Caucasus, Lithuania and Austria.