At the height of summer, on July 15, in Baku, Tatars celebrated their national festival Sabantuy. Milyausha Gumerova, the responsible official of the World Congress of Tatars, visited Baku and shared the joy of the festival with theTatars living there. The festival, being interrupted by an unexpected downpour, then continued in the hall.
– Milyausha Khanum, let’s start our conversation with the most urgent problem. Have the Baku Tatars saved their Tatar spirit?
– Tatars living abroad, outside Tatarstan, tend to maintain the Tatar spirit in their souls. In another country, among the other peoples, in a situation where it is quite difficult to maintain one`s “national identity”, Tatars are forming their own cultural societies. Tatars are maintaining their national customs and traditions. In Baku, I met different people, they proudly talked about the meeting with the President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov recently in Baku.
– What is the history of the formation of the Tatar community in Baku? When and from where Tatars came there?
– With the exception of a couple of people, the community is made up of indigenous people living in the city for generations.
– Where Baku Sabantuy took place?
– Tatars are wonderful and hard-working people. Here in Baku, the city officials treat with respect to the Tartars. So, the place for Sabantuy was chosen in the center of the city, in the Officers’ Park. Hundreds of people gathered for the festival. Mostly it was Tatars, but there were also many other nationalities. There I met with the head of the Ukrainian Center, and the deputy chairman of the Kazakh Association. People of different ethnic groups come to the events devoted to Gabdulla Tukay, Salikh Saydashev, Musa Jalil. The Tatar organizations in Baku are working closely with the Russian Embassy in Azerbaijan. The Russian diplomats were invited to Sabantuy, the Embassy councilors Alexander Gladkov and Svetlana Kosinchikova congratulated all the participants with such a wonderful holiday. The celebration was attended by many distinguished guests.
One more thing I would like to add. This is not my first Sabantuy abroad. And everywhere people treat with the deepest respect to all the customs, traditions, culture of Tatars, and always enjoy visiting Sabantuy.
– Did you get acquainted with the activities of the Baku Tatar organizations in general?
– Young people are very active. I think this is a positive effect of our forums of Tatar Youth.
– Probably young Tatars from Baku also will take part in the current forum of Tatar youth, will they?
– Yes, of course, 10 people.
Young people hold weekly Tatar disco parties. It is not just a place of rest for them, here they get to know each other, communicate, create families. They say that it is the only place where they can find so many young Tatars.
Tatars also celebrate their religious holidays. Tatars use to come here to meet each other, sit and talk. They say, about one hundred people come to such gatherings.
– In what language do they communicate?
– In Tartar! After all, their leader speaks only in Tartar.
– And do they speak purely Tatar?
– In Baku, the descendants of so-called Penza Tatars live. They speak in Penza dialect. Though their Tatar language is quite pure, but the Azerbaijani influence in their mentality is felt. Several generations of Tatars had lived there. And they are living very amicably.
– Tatars are assimilated with other peoples, is it so in Baku?
– Yes. But it should be noted that the process is not so painful. Azerbaijanis are Muslims too, and their language is close to our language. However, the problem exists.
– Do the Baku Tatars speak Azeri?
– Yes they do. All of them. They learn the language in school.
– How do they teach children the Tatar language?
– There is a Sunday school. The only thing on which they complained about is the lack of teaching books. They typed the Tatar ABC book on the computer, and children learn from these books printed on the printer. I think, when the online teaching resource on the “Tatar Ile” website starts, it will help them.
They complained that in Baku, the concerts and performances of the Tatar artists are very rare. Their thirst for the Tatar culture is so much. They are trying to organize their own Tatar concerts. They are quite able to conduct a full three-hour concert. In “Tugan Tel” Society they have two amateur groups, both for veterans and for youth. And there is also an ensemble in the “Yashlek” Organization. They dance, sing, and chant.
I came with the most pleasant impressions of an active and busy life of the Tatars in Baku.