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Happy new sun!

Indigenous people of the Far East celebrates a separate New Year

Happy new sun!
Photo: courtesy of Anna Kai

“Take a look at the new sun, thank the spirits of Mother Nature and celebrate the New Year. Only quietly so that your cherished desires are heard by the sun, ”- such instructions were given by the old people to the kids who first celebrated the Hebdenac Even event.


Gates to the other world

For many centuries in a row, the indigenous people of Siberia and the Far East - Evens celebrated New Year's Day on the summer solstice - it was believed that just then the winter ends and the long-awaited summer for the inhabitants of the north comes. It is believed that on this day a new sun appears in the sky, the gates to the other world open on earth and the gods can hear the requests of mortals.

At dawn, reindeer herders from the closest nomadic tribal families came to their sacred places to meet the new sun and conduct the necessary ceremonies. They were satisfied when the first red fish entered the Kolyma rivers and the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. The Evens believed that how much fun and hospitable the Habdenack would be, how much salmon would come to the region.

At the head of each clan was a shaman who carried out all the rituals - he did this not according to certain standards, but as spirits told him to. Ceremonies were the most important part of the holiday, so it lasted four days. It was believed that people at the same time gained sacred power - from the Mistress of the Universe and the human race Enineh-bug and her assistant - Hevki (God).



Revival of traditions

Over the years, the holiday has lost its strength, small nations began to celebrate the usual New Year, but in 1997, Habdenek decided to revive in the Magadan region and make it a universal - public holiday. The venue has not changed since then - all the rituals are performed in a clearing near the Dukcha River, whose name is translated from the Even language as “skeleton of a yurt, parking lot”. Now, every year several hundred people gather there - Evens from all over the Far East and guests who are interested in looking at the original rites.

“Evens still remember that at the mouth of the river several Even clans gathered to meet the New Time and begin Putin. At this time, the course of salmon began. In 1997, the holiday was reconstructed by specialists from the Center for Folk Art. All customs were restored and organized by Maria Zheleznaya and Lyudmila Chernikova, who at that time worked as the Center’s methodologists, ”says Anna Kai, head of the Center for National Cultures of the Educational Creative Cultural Association of the Magadan Region.

With the help of rituals, Evens honored the awakening of nature from a long and harsh winter. The role of shamans in conducting rituals in modern times was assumed by the elders of the Even families - they always respect the customs of their ancestors, thank the spirits and honor the traditions. That is why all participants wear national costumes, hats and jewelry.



“Every year the elders become smaller, but they left for us the invaluable wealth of their centuries-old culture. Each custom is inscribed with the golden words of the older generation of the indigenous peoples of the North in the history of the Magadan land, ”says Anna Kai.


From meeting to feeding

One of the first ceremonies that are held at Habdenek is called the "Meeting." According to it, the participants of the holiday who came from distant settlements give each other something - in memory of a joyful meeting after a long winter. The present also needs to be presented to the earth in gratitude - they usually give it a bead or a coin. Then, to the sounds of the harp, the sun meets. At this time, all turn to the ascending luminary and raise their hands to it.

After that, the Evens light a sacred fire. The hosts of the holiday walk a circle in the direction of the sun, light a glade, then they approach a patrimonial fire and light a fire, and then “feed” it with the brought gifts. Following is the rite "Husil - the Sacred Swans." Husil is a symbol of the holiday - the holy sun swan. During the ritual, young people portray two swans and dance around a family fire. Gently spreading their arms, sway from side to side, and in their hands hold ribbons, which according to legend swans carry the universe to fulfill their desires.

To meet the sun, everyone must undergo a rite of purification in order to appear before him with a pure soul, body, and thoughts. For this, the participants of the festival, holding hands, pass through the sacred gates and ritual bonfires, then make a wish and tie a ribbon on Delburge - a kind of heavenly gate that makes twine tied between two trees.

At the Habdenek holiday, for the first time in 2017, the rite “Meeting a new man” was revived. On this day, infants are introduced to the family hearth - they smear their forehead with deer blood or ash from the birth fire, and also give gifts.

Sacrament rites should not be accompanied by loud merriments - everyone should tune in to spirits and communication with nature. But after the completion of all the rituals the fun begins - everyone joins hands and becomes in a circle to perform the Heide ritual dance. People replace each other, so dancing can stretch for several hours. Participants and guests of the festival taste folk dishes, perform ancient songs, compete in throwing a maut or pulling a stick. Now the Evens in Habdenek compete in bone carving and the best decoration of a yurt.