Turkmen Bakhshi Day

Turkmen Bakhshi Day is observed on the second Sunday in September and celebrates the Bakhshi. What is a Bakhshi, you ask? Well, they are traditional Turkmen musicians who were traveling shamans and singers, healers, and spiritual figures.

They are essentially bards that provide music for important life events such as births and weddings. Many of them sing a cappella, but a number also perform with traditional musical instruments such as the dutar.

Turkmen Bakhshi is part of the larger Turkic Ashik tradition — a tradition that goes back centuries. Their music is as important now as it has ever been, which is why this holiday is still important to this day.

The History of Turkmen Bakhshi Day

The Ashik tradition has its origins in the Shamanistic beliefs of ancient Turkish peoples, and they served an important role in continuing the oral traditions of these cultures. They date back to at least the 7th century, if not earlier, during the Age of Heroism of the Oghuz Turks.

This nomadic tribe spread the tradition throughout Central Asia and into the modern areas of Turkey and the Azerbaijan Republic. Throughout the years, their traditions, music, and stories evolved, but they remained an important part of Turkmen culture.

At some point during the beginning of the 21st century, the government of Turkmenistan decided to show respect for this tradition with the creation of Turkmen Bakhshi Day.

Some Notable Facts About Ashik Tradition

Since we know people are eager to learn more about the Ashik tradition, we thought we’d list a few more facts that we learned on the subject. The following facts are ones that we gathered from various sources to provide our readers with a better understanding of this ancient tradition.

  • Essentially, an Ashik is a traveling bard. They can be found in Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.
  • Ashiks usually play a form of lute known as a Saz.
  • Bakhshi traditionally play a dutar.
  • The word Ashik comes from “Ashiq,” an Arabic word that means “a person who is in love.”

Observing Turkmen Bakhshi Day

This day is observed with traditional Bakhshi celebrations and with families getting together to enjoy good food and good music. Although it’s not a public holiday in Turkmenistan, which means that many people still have to work, it is a day that’s enjoyed by everyone who observes folk traditions in that country. People can spread the news about this day using the hashtag #TurmenBakhshiDay on social media.

Where is it celebrated?
Turkmenistan (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
September 8 Sunday
Next year (2025)
September 14 Sunday
Last year (2023)
September 10 Sunday