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The annual At Chabysh Festival, also known as Murghab Horse Festival, is organized by the French Embassy, the Christensen Fund, and the Kyrgyz Ate Foundation. One celebrates Kyrgyz horsemanship and traditions with horse races and games.
Kyrgyz Ate is a Kyrgyz NGO, founded in 2004 by Jacqueline Ripart in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan).
She developed an extensive program with the aim of preserving and rehabilitating the Kyrgyz horse and its closely related traditions in the agricultural sector, as well as in the fields of culture, sport, tourism, and crafts within the framework of economic and socially sustainable development.
Some French visitors tell us that Jacqueline Ripar, the initiator of the At Chabysh Festival, did not receive a visa this year, as it is a Kyrgyz event that one doesn’t promote in Tajikistan.
In principle, this is to be understood, but one could also have turned a blind eye since in the Pamir the majority of the population is of Kyrgyz descent.
The traditional costumes and especially the headgear show that one is proud of one’s Kyrgyz descent.
On arrival at the festival ground, the competition has not started yet. But one is busy preparing food, and a veterinarian examines the horses. Other participants check the saddles and bridles or talk to friends.
Later are some short speeches, music, and dancing. Even the little ones are already experienced dancers.
The closer the competition comes, the more riders move their horses to warm up for the competition.
The importance of this festival can be seen at the people. One can literally feel the tension and nervousness in the air. Many children wait impatiently.
They all wear traditional costumes or at least better clothes. Of course, the locals eyeball the foreign guests, like we study the local people.
Please read on > The Horse Race
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