Yurt co-op gives tourists taste of Corban Festival in Xinjiang
China Daily

Dalil (left), an ethnic Kazak, makes fried twisted dough known as sanzi to celebrate the Corban Festival along with his wife and his neighbor Zhu Wenjun (right) at his home in Barkol Kazak autonomous county in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Friday. (Photo: China Daily)

People staying in guesthouses during celebration get glimpse of ethnic culture

Bahargul Asat got up very early to prepare for the celebration of the Corban Festival in the traditional Kazak yurts on the fertile grassland in Narat, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Sunday.

There were more things to do because all the tourists who stayed at her yurts were on her guest list, she said.

Bahargul said she was making a grand effort to show the guests how people from the Kazak ethnic group celebrate one of the most important Islamic festivals of the year in style.

The Corban Festival, also known as Eid al-Adha and the Sacrifice Festival, is celebrated by people from many of Xinjiang's ethnic groups, including the Uygur, Kazak, Uzbek, Tajik and Hui.

People began to prepare food and snacks days in advance to give to friends and visitors. The festival kicked off after people completed their morning prayers on Sunday at mosques around Xinjiang. The slaughtering of sheep as a sacrifice is an essential part of the celebration.

"We have to slaughter more sheep and prepare more traditional Kazak pastries so my family and guests from all over China can have a good time together on the beautiful grassland, which has always been the summer pasture for Kazak herdsmen like my father and grandfather," Bahargul, 40, said.

Dubbed "grassland in the sky" for its altitude, Narat, partly surrounded by the Tianshan Mountains on three sides in the Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, has become one of the top tourist spots in Xinjiang. Besides carrying on the tradition of raising livestock on the grassland, some local Kazaks, including Bahargul, also decided to start their own tourist-related businesses.

Bahargul set up a cooperative with other herdsmen providing yurts as guesthouses in 2014 so they can provide standardized and quality services for the tourists. Now the cooperative owns 40 yurts, which were fully booked on Sunday, she said.

"The yurt cooperative is also a good platform to promote the Kazak culture," she said.

The Corban Festival, which began Sunday, is a three-day public holiday for people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang. Railway authorities in the region have increased the number of trains to meet public demand during the festival.

A total of 157 trains have been added to ease public transportation during the festival, according to China Railway Urumqi Group.

The trains mainly link Urumqi, the regional capital, and many important cities in northern and southern Xinjiang as well as tourist destinations, the company said.