Culture. Uzbekistan has one of the brightest and original cultures of the Orient. It is inimitable national music, dances and painting, unique national kitchen and clothes. The Uzbek national music is characterized as variety of subjects and genres. The songs and tool plays according to their functions and forms of usage can be divided into two groups: performed in the certain time and under the certain circumstances and performed at any time. The songs connected with customs and traditions, labor processes, various ceremonies, dramatized entertainment representations and games belong to the first group.
The Uzbek people is well-known for its songs. "Qoshiq" - household song with a small diapason melody, covering one or two rows of the poetic text. The dancing character of a melody of this genre provides their performance in support of comic dances. "Lapar" is a dialogue-song. In some areas the term - lapar is applied to wedding songs "Ulan" (which is performed as a dialogue of man and women). Genre "yalla" includes two kinds of songs: a melody of a narrow range, and solo simultaneously with dance. National and professional poems of the poets of East are used as the texts for the songs. The special place in the Uzbek musical heritage occupy "dastans" (epic legends with lyric-heroic content). Also "Maqoms"- are the basic classical fund of professional music of oral tradition.
The dances of Uzbeks distinguish softness, smoothness and expressiveness of movements, easy sliding step, original movements on a place and on a circle.
The development of national painting began many centuries ago. At 16-17 centuries art of the manuscript and binding in Bukhara and some other urban centers has achieved significant success. The decorating of manuscript included refined calligraphy, performance by water paints and thin ornaments on fields. In Samarkand and especially in Bukhara the Central Asian school of a miniature has achieved a great success and were developed many different style directions. One of them, for example is connected with traditions of Behzod, which characterized with its gentle style of writing the letter and architectural elements.
National clothes. The Uzbek national clothes of the end of XIX century partially remain up these days. The men in that time carried a direct cover shirts, bottom and top dressing gowns. The dressing gowns were very light and made from cotton wool. There were cuts on each side of dressing gown for convenience at walking. The trousers were made wide, of direct breed lent from top to bottom. Female clothes were: dressing gowns, dress, "parandja" - also of wide breed.
Crafts. Culture, handicrafts and tourism are rapidly becoming inseparable partners. Local crafts are important elements of culture, and people travel to see and experience other cultures, traditions and ways of living. Crafts products form an important element of the purchases made by tourists, providing an important economic input to the local economy.
Applied art of Uzbeks has a wealth of variety when it comes to style, materials and ornamentation. Silk, ceramics and cotton weaving, stone and wood carving, metal engraving, leather stamping, calligraphy and miniature painting are some genres passed down from ancient times. Back in the past, each region had its own cultural and ethnic traditions the unique features of which were established by local guilds that have strengthened these characteristics through their art.
Uzbek craftsmen nowadays still practice ancient jewellery making techniques for cutting gemstones, grain filigree, granular work, engraving and enamelling, also they are trying to take into account fashion demands and styles.
Embroidery is one of the most popular trends of applied arts in Uzbekistan. Every city of Uzbekistan has its own unique features such as ornamentation, composition, colour range and stitching. The finest kind of embroidery, gold embroidery is still practised in Bukhara.
The art of carpet weaving is also a very ancient form of art throughout Asia, and nowadays it can be found in some of the cities of Uzbekistan today. The art of wood carving is used and adapted in modern interior design. Carved and painted tables, stools, caskets, pencil boxes and bookstands are popular pieces of furniture among local people and tourists. The art of Miniature painting and calligraphy has been revived again in its traditional form as well as some modern variants. For example miniatures stamped on leather, painted on paper miniatures, small lacquered boxes, framed pictures, pencil boxes and many other ideas skilfully painted by masters can be found in Uzbekistan.
Cuisine. Uzbek cuisine is one of the most colourful of Oriental cuisines. You will get astounded to find some of Uzbek recipes to be centuries-old. They even have different traditional rituals and ways of cooking. There are about 1,000 different dishes including national drinks, cakes and confectionary products.
Uzbek "Pilaf" is a very solemn food. It can be considered as an everyday dish as well as a dish for solemn and great events like weddings, parties and holidays. Rice is the most important ingredient of pilaf and special spices, raisins, or peas will be added to give it extra flavour. However, locals believe that the best pilaf is always prepared by a man! Salads are also served along with pilaf.
Bread is holy for Uzbek people. This traditional belief started with a legend. As it goes, each new Governor would mint his own coins but the payment for local people who minted new coins were not the coins that were minted but…bread!
Traditionally Uzbek breads are baked inside the stoves made of clay called "Tandyr". These fragrant breads are known to be crispy and tasty. Even the greatest scientist of medicine, Avicenna used Uzbek bread to cure people of diseases.
A special importance is placed on soups. Uzbek soup is rich in vegetables and seasonings and contains lots of carrots, turnips, onions and greens. Two popular soups are Mastava and Shurpa.
ION Nowadays, there are more than 2,2 thousand religious organizations representing 16 denominations that have the legal registration in Uzbekistan.
Naturally, the overwhelming majority - 2042 or 92% of total - are Muslim organizations, as approximately 88% of population in Uzbekistan consider themselves as followers of Islam.
Besides, 164 Christian organizations, 8 Jewish communities, 6 Bahai communities, 1 Krishna society and 1 Buddhist temple are also represented in the country.
In mutual relation with religious organizations, the state, being secular, adheres to the following principles:
-Respectful attitude to religious feelings of the believers;
-Recognition of religious views as a private affair of the citizens or their associations;
- Providing warranty for the equal rights and inadmissibility of prosecution of the citizens for, both professing religious views, and not professing them;
- Necessity of search for dialogue with various religious associations for utilization of their opportunities in the sphere of spiritual revival, strengthening of universal moral values;
- Recognition of inadmissibility of usage of religion in destructive purposes.
According to the requirements of the Vienna Declaration, guarantees of the Constitution of the Republic Uzbekistan, with a view of ensuring of the interethnic consent and interconfessional solidarity, one of the main priorities for reforming of our society was maintenance and protection of the rights and freedom of citizens, their legal equality irrespective of race, sex, nationality, language, social origin, belief, religion, personal or social status, as fixed in our Constitution.
Believers of Uzbekistan freely celebrate all religious holidays. That is why, year-by-year and in a wide scale, Muslims celebrate Idul Adha and Idul Fitri, Christians - Easter and Christmas, Jews – Pesach, Purim and Hanukkah. By the decrees of President of Uzbekistan, Idul Adha and Idul Fitri are announced as the national holidays.
Apart from this, every year with all-round help of the leadership of the Republic of Uzbekistan, believers make pilgrimage to sacred places – Muslims to the Kingdome of Saudi Arabia for carrying out ceremonies of Hajj and Umrah, Christians - to Russia, Greece and Israel, Jews - to Israel.
In total, during independence years, more than 50 thousand citizens of Uzbekistan have had the opportunity to carry out Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and more than 150 citizens were supported to visit sacred places for Christians and Jews in Russia, Greece and Israel.
Pilgrims have been provided with comprehensive help - organization of special flights, rendering of medical services, free exchange of foreign currency, reduced price of air tickets, fast and unobstructed registration of visa documents.
During the years of independence, Sacred Koran, 16 books of the Old Testament, as well as the whole New Testament were translated into the Uzbek language and published in the republic are.
Hundreds of mosques, churches and meeting-houses, including orthodox temples in Tashkent, Samarkand and Navoi, a Catholic church in Tashkent, the Armenian apostolic church in Samarkand were constructed and restored.
According the Governmental Decree of 22 August 2003, 15 objects - religious complexes, places of pilgrimage and mausoleums will be managed by the Administration of Muslims of Uzbekistan.
At the end of 2004, Administration of Muslims of Uzbekistan together with the Republican Blinds Society had presented the Sacred Koran printed on Brail script. Uzbekistan became the third state in the world which has carried out this good deed. Nowadays, around 24 thousand citizens, deprived of possibility to see the world with their eyes, reside in our country. From now on, special boarding schools, public libraries of the republic, as well as all interested persons will be provided with copies of the Koran on Brail script. It was noted during the event that the edition of the Sacred Koran for blinds, organization of gesture-translation for deaf-mutes at two Friday mosques of Tashkent, and the decision to introduce this experience in other regions of the republic, will be invaluable gift for our fellow disabled citizens.
The system of religious training consists of the Tashkent Islamic Institute, 10 madrasas, Orthodox and Protestant seminaries. In 2006-2007 academic year, 124 students are being trained in the Tashkent Islamic Institute, 900 – in madrasas, 49 - in Orthodox seminary, and 33 - in Protestant seminary.
The Tashkent Islamic University was established in September 1999 on the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan. The first bachelors of the University graduated in 2003 and the MAs in 2005. The Academic Lyceum and Gymnasium-School are functioning within the University.
Adoption of the new edition of the Law of the 1 May 1998 became the next step in the construction of highly democratic society. It defines in detail the role and status of the religious organizations and unions, and their complete mutual understanding and relations with state bodies.
Registration of religious organizations is carried out in accordance with the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers on “Regulation for state registration of the religious organizations in the Republic of Uzbekistan” dated 20 June 1998. During 2006 – 8 religious organization have been registered, including 7 mosques and 1 Christian church.
Uzbekistan is a secular state, and the Government does not differentiate between religious organisations due their size or popularity in the country. All religious organisations – whether they are larger organisation like Administration of Muslims of Uzbekistan and the Tashkent and Middle East Diocese of Russian Orthodox Church, or the small single religious organisations – have similar rights and obligations.
The Council of Congregations was established under the Committee for Religious Affairs to promote close cooperation with the religious organizations, provide assistance and support for the different religious communities in their activities and in mutual development of proposals and measures for ensuring inter-religious and interethnic peace and harmony of society.
The Council of Congregations is made of the leaders of Muslim’s Administration, the Tashkent and Middle East Diocese of Russian Orthodox Church, the Union of Evangelical-Christians Churches, the Centre of Churches of Christians of full Evangeline, the Evangelic-Lutheran Church, and the Tashkent Jewish religious society.
The state maintains the inter-religious peace and harmony in Uzbekistan. Rich intellectual heritage of the nations in Uzbekistan, ancient cultures and religions become a subject of interest for the international society.
The state promotes increase of foreign visits to Uzbekistan, so the guest of our country could personally be convinced of its prosperity, as well as see that the government not in words, but in practice carries out its obligations.
For example, in 1995 in Tashkent, there was the Christian-Muslim Conference "To live together under the one sky". Representatives of the World Council of Churches and some other foreign churches took part in this forum.
There were marked two significant dates in 1996:
- In November, the 125th anniversary of the Tashkent and Central Asian Diocese of Russian Orthodox Church. In honour of celebration of this date, for the first time in the history of Church, the Moscow and All-Russia Patriarch Alexi II arrived to Central Asia;
- in December, the Evangelic-Lutheran community of Uzbekistan celebrated 100-years anniversary of the only Lutheran Kirha in Central Asia.
In 2001 Tashkent and Central Asian Diocese celebrated its 130th anniversary.
In 2002 the Tashkent Catholic Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the revival of Catholicism in the Central Asia.
Samarkand held events on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Apostolic Church in October 2003.
There is preparations are going on occasion of the 135th anniversary of the Tashkent and Central Asian Diocese of Russian Orthodox church in current year.
It is great to note, that the representatives of various faiths are participating in these events.
Looking back at the historic path that has been passed by our people, it is necessary to note, that from day one of Independence a huge work is done in the country. The essence of the state itself has undergone essential transformations and radical changes. Adoption in December 1992of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is the base for formation of legislative and legal foundation of the sovereign state, became the important political event in the life of our country.
Article 18 of the Constitution fixed that all citizens of Uzbekistan have the same rights and freedoms, and are legally equal without distinction by gender, race, nationality, language, religion, origin, belief, personal and a social status.
The Constitution guarantees the rights of citizens for freedom of conscience. Everyone has the right to profess any religion or not profess any. Forced propagation of religious views is inadmissible (Article 31).
Therefore, we are proud that today representatives of over 120 ethnicities live and work in the territory of Republic.
Uzbekistan has established official diplomatic relations with more than 130 countries of the world. Process of democratization of our society is recognized abroad.
Uzbekistan, being the full member of the international community, bears the full responsibility on support of different faiths. But it is especially necessary to notice, that it does not give the reason for using the religion in political or other purposes.