Holiday under threat? Imams of Turkmenistan oppose New Year celebrations

Holiday under threat? Imams of Turkmenistan oppose New Year celebrations

In the Balkan region of Turkmenistan, clergy representatives oppose New Year celebrations. This position was voiced in their sermons, which coincided with reports about the dismantling of Christmas trees in the Lebap region. This was reported by Radio Azatlyk.

According to a correspondent in the western region, these days mosques are holding unprecedented sermons in the 32-year history of Turkmenistan’s independence. Imams of mosques oppose New Year celebrations, and decorating Christmas trees and fireworks because they contradict Islamic principles. Some imams of two mosques in the city of Balkanabad said during Friday namaz on 8 December, addressing worshippers, that the population was wasting money on New Year celebrations and was damaging the country’s budget. They said that on the night of 1 January, people eat pork, drink alcoholic beverages, on which they spend their accumulated funds, and cook a lot of food, allowing wastefulness, and this is contrary to faith.

Clergy representatives also noted that only 5% of the country’s population celebrates Gurban Bayram, which is sacred for Muslims. And the rest of them are sorry to spend 600 manats to buy a ram for the sacrifice.

“Today, even a 7-year-old child knows about Prophet Isa’s birthday (Christmas). But even 70-year-olds do not know about the birthday of Prophet Muhammad,” one of the residents of Balkanabad quoted the imam as saying.

Most participants in Friday prayers believe that such radical statements are due to “orders from above”. Without the chief mufti’s approval, regional imams would not dare to present personal ideas. The sermons began to sound at the time when the Lebap region restricted the installation of Christmas trees in front of state buildings, and those that were previously decorated were dismantled.

Interestingly, budgetary workers collected money for decorations for the New Year, but soon the New Year decorations were dismantled, leaving, for example, only 5 trees per oblast in Turkmenabad.  At the same time, no explanation of the situation was given, and no one returned the money spent to budgetary employees.

Recall that in 2022, representatives of clergy in Turkmenistan also opposed New Year celebrations. Back then, imams of mosques in Balkan and Mary regions were against noisy New Year celebrations and decorating Christmas trees. Some observers link the radical ideas of the clergy to the religious views of Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdymukhamedov.

Meanwhile, the country’s official media reported that the new town of Arkadag is preparing for a large New Year celebration.