Friday, December 29, 2023

The 'torture' of forced festivities for young Turkmeni on New Year's Eve

Flag of Turkmenistan - Photo #8369 - motosha | Free Stock Photos

The New Year celebrations in Turkmenistan are causing a series of inconveniences, given the activism of Muslim imams who contest the date which they believe is incompatible with the Islamic faith.

The State instead supports public demonstrations, in a mixture of Soviet heritage and local tradition; New Year's Eve was celebrated in the times of the USSR to counteract the religious holidays and the folklore of various peoples was used to make it particularly sumptuous and sparkling.

Rehearsals for the choreographies to be performed at the end of the year are therefore taking place these days, forcing boys and girls from primary school to university to sacrifice time and energy for the success of the various events.

In the city of Mari, the young people were called to film one of these scenes to be done in advance, in order to be able to broadcast it on public television during the night of the last year on a deferred basis, without risking the possible stumbles of the live broadcast.

Hundreds of high school and university students were summoned to the Bagt Košgi Palace to record a three-hour festive choreography, forcing them to sit in national costume amid decorated plants and fruits and glasses of soft drinks. Those present applauded the musical and other performances on command, smiling and expressing their "spontaneous joy" with carefully prepared gestures in advance.

The students were positively surprised that the event lasted so short this year, given that in the past it always lasted longer than five hours, but the greatest inconvenience was due to the forced fasting they were subjected to.

As one of them told Radio Azatlyk, "the teachers informed us of the gathering at the end of the morning lessons, making us leave our backpacks in the classroom and warning that anyone who didn't show up would be suspended... they didn't even allow us to eat a sandwich , or drink a cup of tea."

Many had fasted since the previous evening, given that to reach school they have to get up very early and travel a long way.

Remaining seated among fruit and juices that could not be touched was a real mockery for the hungry young people, "even more so having to continually smile and demonstrate their happiness, otherwise they would make us repeat the scene", says another student anonymously .

No comments came from the local authorities and school management, to the timid attempts at clarification requested by journalists.

In the meantime, other repetitions were held outdoors, always with groups of boys and girls selected for their attractiveness, accompanied by state employees responsible for organizing a demonstration to be held at the new Merv stadium.

Just as the gathering was taking place, heavy rain began to fall and the boys tried to take shelter; however, the representatives of the local authorities forced everyone to remain on the field, with their sports costumes and green flags, paid for with forced withdrawals from the salaries of public offices.

The boys didn't even understand what scene they had to witness: their task was only to clap and move synchronically on command, expressing joy even under the downpours of rain. The "party torture" in Turkmenistan is a tradition increasingly practiced in the thirty post-Soviet period to exalt the national spirit, and the repetitions are imposed with obsessive care to show grandiose and flawless scenography on television.

It doesn't matter whether with the scorching sun in summer or with frost, rain and snow in winter; there is something for everyone, children, young and old, and cases of hospitalization after hours of testing without eating or drinking, but always with big smiles, are not uncommon.