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May 1, 2022
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Chechen traditions

Chechens are the most numerous ethnic group in the North Caucasus. The first mention of it dates back to the 13th century: it was then that the ancestors of this proud people began their journey along the Main Caucasian Range. The traditions and customs of the Chechens are closely connected with their history: forced to move several times at considerable distances from their home, they adopted the culture of the people with whom they lived in the neighborhood.

Chechen traditions

Hospitality

From time immemorial people in Chechnya have been living on the principle of respect for a person. It is enough to turn to the folklore of this ethnic group, as it immediately becomes clear how much guests are valued here. Folk wisdom says: “Where the guest does not come, grace does not come there either.” This explains the cultural tradition of the Chechen people to receive everyone who crossed the threshold of the house widely and with special respect. Hospitality is not just politeness of people of this nationality. This tradition has evolved over the centuries: given the hard-to-reach places of residence of the Chechens, every traveler who passed from aul to aul in the Caucasus mountains, without an overnight stay or a short respite under the roof of the house, simply could not survive.

Guests are honored here more than the owner of the house. They are seated in the best places at the table away from the front door. The owner of the dwelling, on the contrary, sits closer to the exit, in the most uncomfortable place, thereby showing how pleasant it is for him to host guests. An interesting tradition of the Chechens is to please those who come to you with an open heart as much as possible. If the visitor likes some thing in the house, the owner should immediately give it to him. At the same time, cases when people abuse this custom are extremely rare, since mutual respect is a national trait of this people.

Chechen hospitality

The explanation of such an attitude towards people can be the principle of equality in society for many centuries. The Chechens have never had a social division: they treated the poor and the rich, representatives of a noble family and people from small teips with equal respect. The main thing was how a person relates to others and honors the cultural foundations of his people.

The concept of honor

Morality is the highest concept in the culture of the Chechen people. To lose honor here is akin to murder. In most cases, immoral acts are punished. They atone for guilt with blood, while everyone is responsible not only for himself, but also for seven generations of his relatives. It is considered a great shame for any Chechen to discredit a person, not only physically, but also verbally. A man here can be punished for a rude word in relation to elders, for touching a woman.

At the same time, blood feuds can be avoided. Interesting in this regard are the traditions of the Chechen people living in remote mountainous regions. For example, if a person has committed a murder (the most terrible crime), then his numerous relatives gather all together, go to the house of the “blood lord”, bare their heads and stand in front of him in forgiveness. The criminal himself is carried in a white shroud on a funeral stretcher, which symbolizes deep repentance and death of the soul because of the deed. In this case, the injured party may refuse revenge and set the price of “blood”. Usually it is a herd of cows.

Reconciliation of bloodlines

If the murder of a woman was committed, then the ritual of universal forgiveness will not do. In this case, according to tradition, two men were killed. This is due to the perception of any woman as a mother, and any violence against her is a great sin.

Attitude towards women

According to the tradition of the Chechen people, a woman has a special status. She has fewer rights than men in society, but when it comes to the house, then within her walls she is considered a mistress on a par with her husband and older men. A special honor is given to the mother who raised her son. For Chechens, the most terrible wish is “that the fire in your house goes out.” It is understood as a personal insult to the hostess. Hearing these words from someone, one could even declare blood feud.

But just as enmity over women could flare up at one moment, it could also subside overnight, because according to the Chechen folk tradition, only a woman can stop blood feuds with her word. It is enough for her to appear at the scene of the skirmish and remove the scarf from her head, throwing it at the feet of the combatants, and all strife ends. Also, the blood enemy himself can ask for protection from a woman from a family who has taken up arms against him. To do this, touch the hem of her skirt: the custom symbolizes adoption. To stop the fight, the mother gives the younger children a mirror to carry to the scene of the strife. This is a signal that it is necessary to sheathe the weapon and stop the civil strife.

Woman stops the bloodlines

A woman is always held in high esteem, despite the fact that she never sits at the same table with men, even if it is a family dinner. If the hostess enters the room where the guests have gathered, everyone stands up to greet her. If a man meets an elderly lady on the street, he always greets her first and only while standing. An interesting Chechen tradition is that a man always goes ahead of his companion. This is not a sign of disrespect. On the contrary, this is how he protects the lady. The custom developed a long time ago, when the majority of the population lived in the mountains and had to overcome distances along narrow mountain paths. If there was danger on the way, the first blow was taken by the man.

Chechen wedding traditions

In Chechnya, quite democratic views on marriage have developed. This is one of the few peoples who profess Islam, which does nothing against the will of the girl. It has long been customary that couples are created only by mutual sympathy. Previously, in some areas, the custom of stealing a bride was relevant, but in our time, the current head of the republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, canceled it by his order, since a family should be built on mutual respect and love. If someone nevertheless decides to steal his beloved, he faces punishment according to the Criminal Code.

Acquaintance

Today, young people can meet in a common company or at parties, and in the past, one of the opportunities to look after a groom or a bride was belkhi, or collective work. Chechens are very responsive to the requests of others and often do everything together. All relatives and neighbors always gather for belkhi: they harvest together, do house improvement. After that, the host sets the table and arranges a labor festival with dancing.

Chechen dances

Marriage in Chechnya is possible only after the approval of the couple by parents on both sides. After the young people decide to get married, the guy brings his mother or grandmother a ring or a scarf, which the chosen one had previously presented to him as a sign of consent. If in response he receives disapproval, then he immediately abandons the idea of ​​​​marrying. If everyone agrees, then further wedding traditions of the Chechens involve contracts. To do this, the future mother-in-law meets with the mother of the bride and tells her the good news.

matchmaking

If both women agree, they convene a council of elders. Previously, his function was to protect the interests of the girl, since the elders, as it were, vouched for the groom, and if the marriage was destroyed through his fault, it was considered a shame for the guarantors. Today, matchmaking with the participation of elders is a tribute to traditions. The delegation sends not to the bride’s house, but to respected people from her family. The meeting may be attended by the girl’s father or her older brother. The general advice is to study the gender of the bride and groom in 3-4 generations so that there is no incest. Particular attention is paid to the girl, since the rules of this people include the transmission of heredity through the female line. They take into account the state of health, the wealth of her family and even the opinion of acquaintances about the future bride.

Matchmaking among Chechens is a whole ritual. First, the guests are given a lapel-turn, motivating everything by the fact that they need to ask the opinion of the girl. After that, a delegation of women comes out and announces its decision. Then the elders go to woo a second time and already set the wedding day.

Suitcase collection

Active preparations for the celebration begin. The groom bears the cost of the banquet. He also has to pay for his betrothed kalym. Its size is determined by the mullah, but as a sign of respect for the bride’s family, the payment can be much larger, but this is up to the guy’s side to decide.

The bride, on the other hand, “packs her bags” – this is what the Chechens call the rite of collecting a dowry. It includes clothing, personal jewelry, and gifts for the husband’s in-laws. Previously, cuts of fabric were necessarily added to the suitcase. Nowadays, everything is much more complicated and the study and discussion of dowry becomes a whole event. Some brides collect several suitcases and packages. However, a girl can also be a dowry. Only gifts for the groom’s relatives remain obligatory for her.

Rite of collection of dowry

Preparation for the celebration

Chechen wedding traditions and customs have been preserved for many centuries. On the day of the wedding, the girl wakes up very early. First, a bathing ritual awaits her. To do this, the room is fumigated with incense, and the bath is filled with decoctions of herbs. Ablutions are performed by older women. After all, they apply ritual lines to the body of the young.

Next comes the dressing ceremony. The wedding dress of Chechen women is always on the floor, with covered shoulders, arms, back and neckline. The head is covered with a scarf. As a talisman, a sharp needle is attached to the hem of the dress, and a coin is put into the handkerchief, which, according to tradition, the bride holds in her hands.

bride's dress

At this time, guests gather in the groom’s house. They arrive in cars and go for the bride in a large motorcade. In the girl’s house, the mullah reads texts from the Koran, and then, as a sign of a break, the young one with her family cuts, and more often also tears, the rope. After that, the bride and her closest relative get into the best car and go to the venue of the celebration. According to tradition, the girl’s relatives are not present at the Chechen wedding.

The wedding itself is more of a holiday for the guests. The bride sits all day long in a place specially designated for her. Doesn’t eat, doesn’t drink, doesn’t dance, and doesn’t even talk to absolutely anyone. She can only silently accept congratulations from those who approach her. And the groom also looks like an outsider at his own wedding. He spends the whole celebration with friends in a separate room. For him, the custom of avoidance operates, since in the culture of the Chechens it is not customary to flaunt oneself. It is with this that the seclusion of the groom from the guests and the bride is connected. This symbolizes shame in front of the fact that the future life together will be on view by many prying eyes.

wedding celebration

Tongue untie

The Chechens have an interesting tradition of “untying the tongue” of the bride. In essence, this is obtaining permission to speak in the husband’s house. At first, the father-in-law tries to talk to the silent daughter-in-law. He asks her about the weather, about some abstract things. If the girl continues to be silent, he asks her to bring a glass of water. When the request is fulfilled, the father-in-law asks in surprise why the daughter-in-law brought him water. The young woman must remain silent all the time. Next, the senior guests drink water from the brought glass and put money on the tray. After completing the circle, the girl is allowed to speak.

Acquaintance with the father-in-law

The Chechen wedding ceremony does not end with the celebration itself. A month after the ceremony, the newly-made husband, along with his parents and friends, goes to visit his father-in-law. First, the parents sit down at the table. After dinner, they leave, and the young man returns with his friends. On this day, there is an interesting custom: a guy must sneak into the house of his wife’s parents with shoes on. It is quite difficult to do this, since the girl’s relatives are trying in every possible way to prevent him from doing this.

Dinner follows. It is very reminiscent of a wedding, only if the bride sits silently in the corner at the main celebration, then the groom remains with the father-in-law and mother-in-law at a distance. He stands with his head bowed, as if not daring to look at his new relatives. The whole dinner he is silent, does not eat or drink. If children approach the guy, he should treat them with something sweet.

A few hours later, the wife’s relatives take the young man to a separate room and feed him. After that, the guy gives the girls gifts: he puts money on the table, and gives his wife’s sister a golden bracelet. Only after this ceremony of acquaintance with relatives is considered over. The young man leaves the room and sits at the table with everyone else.

Bride and groom

Chechens strictly honor the cultural foundations of their ancestors. This is one of the few peoples of the Caucasus, which, in addition to a warm heart, has preserved the purity of the soul, for which the main values ​​​​of life are mutual respect and sincere human relations.

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