Accommodating guests is an important part of Kazakh culture and it contains a specific ceremony and rule for hosts as well as for guests that you should follow. WE would like to present you these rules which Kazakhs keep following from generation to generation.
First thing first, the guests should take off his shoes on entering a new home but hosts will help you to put off your outer clothing. Hosts will warmly welcome you and all your family when men shake hands, give a hug and say “As-salamaleikum!” (“In Arabic, Peace be with you!”). The person to whom it was said should respond with “Ua-alaikum as-salam!”. When it comes to women in exchanging greetings, they kiss cheeks to each other as Italians or French people. Or, you can say in a formal way “Salemetsizbe!” or informal “Salem!” Depending on the time of the day, you can say “Kairly kun!” (“Good day!”), “Kairly kesh” (“Good evening!”).
It would be better if you take something as a present
It could be some fruits, box of chocolate and tea, and you shouldn’t forget about the kids. The host will be very glad if you take something for their lovely child or children! Generally, if the baby is very very young, a nice dress for the baby brightens the face of the hosts.
Generally speaking, the present depends on the occasion when you are invited. If the occasion is connected with children such as birthday or 40th day ceremony, you are advised to bring cloths, or other necessary things, or money. Here you can see more on the reasons of giving money and their notions.
After coming to the house, you and other guests are invited to one room where everyone may welcome each other, acquaint with people you don’t know, and just have a small conversation to break the ice and to let the good vibe fly around. You can ask others about how they are doing, and how their life, family, job etc. is.
Everyone loves when their house is clean and Kazakhs are no exception.
You won’t be waiting long to be invited to the dining table or “dastarkhan”. First of all, the host invites old people or in Kazakh “zhasy ulken” (literally means “with a high age”), whereas the most respectful person is invited to the “tor” which is the farthest place from the door and while all guests have a sit, the host stands up, looks around to make sure that people feel comfortable, and helps everyone if it is necessary.
Usually, men and women sit around one table but in some cases, such as in Kurban aid, they sit separately.
There will be generally two types of sitting arrangements in Kazakhstan. There could be European style sitting when you have a full served table and people sit on the chair around it. The other one is traditional way of sitting in Central Asia countries when you sit on the “korpe” (handmade patchwork) or on “kilem” (carpet) which is laid on the floor around the table.
You shouldn’t be surprised with the amount of food on the table because Kazakhs try to decorate table with good and qualitative products and they love to serve it to their guests. First of all, , you will have different kinds of salads, fish, baursaks, vegetable mix, cheese, sausages, juice, water and so on. The second part is beshbarmak or “et beru” (“bringing meat”). Kids are also can be invited to have a dinner with adults but usually they eat fast and then leave the table and play with other kids in another room.
Usually, the themes for the conversation are different, beginning with the discussion about health, personal information and ending with worldwide news.
After having different delicious foods, the oldest man says blessing words (“as kaitaru”) and then you will have a break and women have a chance to clean the table and serve all necessary items for tea: cakes, cupcakes, candies, fruits, raisons, nuts and others. You will be offered to have a black or white tea with milk. In this small break, men may engage in cards games in small groups and recount their earlier experiences and laugh heartily.
The size of Piala (Tea Cups) and tea volume may differ in the regions of Kazakhstan, for example in the South Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda, Atyrau, Mangystau, Aktobe regions, people pour tea in small cups whereas in the North part of Kazakhstan, the size is generally a little bigger. This difference is mainly because of the weather. Nomads were used to consume hot drinks in big sizes in the North because of the cold and windy weather whereas in the South and West Kazakhstan, the weather is much warmer and people are used to drinking less amount of tea. Additionally you can have a green tea as a guest in the West regions.
You will never leave the house without some presents from the
It is a traditionally accepted that every guest have a bag with fruits, meat, nuts, baursaks, i.e. with the food served on the table and a piece of fabric.