Woody Packard

Words + Pictures


Imagine Thanksgiving lasting for three days. Add the suggestion that you eat at many different homes during that time, and the requirement to cook for visitors who are all trying to do the same thing, during the times they are not eating. This pretty much describes the complicated logistical and social side of Nauriz, the Muslim holiday that marks the beginning of Spring. It is celebrated in Khovd by the many Khazaks who live here and work and go to classes side by side with Mongolians. Unlike Tsagaan Sar, it is not a national holiday, but for Khazaks that doesn't matter. There is too much preparation to do and too many homes to visit, so many take the day off anyway.

We spent the first day, Friday, traveling to Khovd Suum, (a suum is a small village) twenty miles west of the our city with the same name. There we were introduced to Nauriz by visiting the home of one of Judy's students. It was the first of three families we would visit in Khovd Suum, in addition to another five the following day. Besides feeding us extensively, we listened to dombor music and received gifts of traditional Khazak clothing—a ger-shaped hat for me, and an embroidered vest for Judy.

From all we could see and hear, Nauriz is about family and friends and food. It's a time to celebrate having made it through a difficult winter, and to look forward to the year ahead.

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Koje, Kitchen

~ 2130322-072

Low coal stove provides both heat and a cooking surface for huge pots.