Kozy Korpesh – Bayan Sulu: Kazakhstan’s Valentine’s Day

February 14th may be the international Valentine’s Day which is celebrated all over the world, but Kazakhstan has its own unique day dedicated to love and devotion, Kozy Kөrpesh – Bayan Sulu, which is celebrated on April 15th. The holiday is centered on a legend from an epic poem from the 13th-14th century, which conveys a story of love and strength of spirit.

Sometimes likened to a Kazakh Romeo and Juliet, the story tells of two heroes – a young man named Kozy Korpesh and a girl called Bayan Sulu – who fight against prejudice and confront an unrighteous ruler to be together. Their story symbolizes the power of courage in the face of obstacles.

In honor of the pair, who, according to a folk legend, were buried in a mausoleum near the village of Tansyk in the East Kazakhstan region, a memorial structure was erected which has been included in the list of historical and cultural monuments and under state protection since 1982. Another monument was erected in the city of Ayagoz in 2013.

Each Kazakhstani has his or her own approach to this day. Some, like Valeria from Astana celebrate it with friends. For them, it’s not only a day of love, but an opportunity to remember their culture and traditions. “I learned about this legend back in high school. Now, even though I study abroad, I try to get together with friends to celebrate it. For me, it’s a reminder of my homeland.”

Others, like Sarzhanbek from Almaty, came to appreciate the story later. “The first time I learned about it I was still in school, but I didn’t pay much attention to it,” he told TCA. “However, one day, I went to the theater for a production based on this legend. It was very interesting; it’s amazing how rich the history of Kazakhstan is.”

Alua, a student of the Faculty of Pedagogy from Taraz, told TCA that she thinks events dedicated to Kazakhstan’s Valentine’s Day should be introduced in schools. She believes it is important to preserve and pass on this holiday to younger generations so they can know and respect the traditions of their country. “We should celebrate it, because it’s our traditional holiday,” she told TCA. “Traditions should be remembered and honored.”


Times of Central Asia