Sabantuy (translated from Tatar as Plough feast) is an ancient rite of the Turkic peoples. Traditionally, it was held before the sowing campaign, nowadays it is a cheerful feat held after the sowing campaign, with national songs and dances, comic contests and sports. It is even customary for Tatars to jokingly call «Sabantuy» any jolly event, for example, wedding or any other feast.
The Sabantuy festival has more than a thousand-year history. Back in 921, it was described in papers of famous scholar Ibn Fadlan, an ambassador from Baghdad who had visited Bolgar. Since old times Tatars considered Sabantuy a great event and made preparations for it in advance. Festive events were conducted by the elders, who established the order of competitions. To this day, not only in Kazan, but all over Russia and even abroad, the Tatars cheerfully celebrate the Plough feast.
Traditions and ceremonies has changed over time, some of them disappeared, giving place to new ones. Today, traditionally district or city mayor opens Sabantuy with a welcoming speech, and the President of Tatarstan opens the main Sabantuy in Kazan. After the opening ceremony, the entertainment begins: performances of singers, dancers — both amateur and professional. Performances are replaced by a cascade of comic competitions for sportsmanship and strength, for example, various foot-races: sack-racing, race with water buckets on shoulder-yoke, racing with a spoon in the mouth, with an egg in spoon. Guests fight on a slippery log with sacks filled with hay; participate in a contest when competitors should break blindfolded a clay pot set on the ground, with a stick. Other popular games are tug-of-war, stick pulling, climbing on a high smooth post for the prize, which is fixed at the top. The prize may be a live rooster in a cage, boots and something else.
The most significant competition on Sabantuy was and still is a national wrestling on the belts «Koresh». The winner traditionally gets the most valuable prize of Sabantuy. Previously, the winner was given a live sheep, nowadays it can be a car or expensive home electronics.
Contests of singers, dancers and reciters are held on Maidan — the area of the feast, master classes in national crafts are held there, too. Usual time of Maidan is from 10-11 a.m. till 2-3 p.m. One can buy sweets and treats there, including national sweets, have tea from samovars.
Sabantuy in Tatarstan has the status of a national holiday and is held in every municipal district and settlement of the republic. Edicts and decisions on the preparation, terms and locations are issued, and organizing committees are appointed from top-ranking officials. Annually hundreds of thousands of residents and guests of the republic take part in the festival as organizers, artists, athletes and spectators.
As a rule, high-ranking officials take part in celebrating Sabantuy. So, once Boris Yeltsin broke a pot at the holiday at the first stroke, Vladimir Putin managed to get a coin from a bowl with «Katyk» sore cream, and Dmitry Medvedev forged part of a phrase «The architect of people's happiness» on a horseshoe.
Sabantuy is included in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Official tourist Portal of the Republic of Tatarstan / http://visit-tatarstan.com