«KHASHAR» – mutual assistance

Khashar is one of the unique national traditions. It has taken an extremely important place in the life of Uzbek people for many centuries. Khashar is the voluntary public mutual aid of the people in the realization of a labour-intensive work such as the construction of private or public buildings, canals, laying out gardens and so on. It has been a custom for many centuries to finish different type of work in villages, private houses and public places by khashar. Such a hard work like digging, clipping, watering vineyards, mowing, harvesting, digging irrigation canals and their cleaning has always been done by the people together.

The point is that gardens and homestead lands of a single household were large and required much effort from the farmer. It was exactly the time when children, friends, relative came to support. When the house is being constructed, then there were also ordinary men except the builders and masters. Khashar is not only the help of the majority to one person but also that of a person to the group. For instance, it was used to be that every day one person from the village shepherded the cattle of the whole village. This tradition remains till now in many rural areas. For ages necessary help is provided to the poor by khashar. Such good deeds like the building a home for the lonely or orphans, cleaning houses, celebrating weddings was carried out by khashar. Khashar is also used to clean the streets, to plant stocks, to dig irrigation canals, to improve cemeteries and other public places (mosques, schools), to build roads, bridges, hospitals. Improvement of villages and establishment of public amenities were carried out for charitable purposes.

The main distinctive feature of khashar is that gratuitous aid lies on the basis of it. Women usually invite their fellows for khashar to knit a carpet or to sew the dowry of the bride before the wedding. When there is wedding preparations in a family all mahalla (small district) members usually gather to help. Till now many public buildings, bridges, roads, and even small towns have been built by khashar. Construction of various constructions such as Big Fergana, Northern and Southern Fergana, Tashkent and Zarafshan canals, Kattakurgan reservoir were realized by nation-wide khashar. National khashar was held also after the earthquake in Tashkent in 1966.

The people, who work in a khashar are always given praises. For example, in the construction of a house the most difficult part is considered to be bricklaying of the corner of a wall. Four men from the four sides of the wall begin building it. The man who finishes first is given a chopon (national overcoat) as a present and is regarded to be the most skilled and reliable assistant. The wives, mothers and children of the workers usually cook various dishes and bring them to khashar. And for the men it remains only to appraise their art of cookery.



Traditions of Uzbekistan.