Kazakhstan is the definition of diversity. Over the last two hundred years, Germans, Jews, Slavs, and others have joined the Mongol-influenced ethnicities here, and with the egalitarian treatment of the Soviet Union and the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms granted by the independent Kazakh government since 1991, there is a great deal of individualism and personal freedom, a rarity in a country ruled by a strong central government. One of those guaranteed freedoms is freedom of religion.
One of the first surprises for me was the discovery of this lovely Jewish Synagogue. I wasn’t sure how far away it was, and for a moment I thought it was a lot larger than it really is, but if you look carefully, you can see pigeons resting on the Star of David on the top of the building. Sorry about the blobs on the lens – didn’t realize they were there until I had left the scene.
This beautiful mosque, called the Mosque of the Holy Sultan, is truly huge. The mosque and the grounds around it fill a city block. And the work is exquisite – inlaid turquoise and gold, and lots of marble work. The heavenward reach of the towers and the eastward facing of the main gate to the mosque remind worshippers to lift their arms and their faces to heaven in all their works. A worthy reminder.
This pyramid is called the Palace of Peace. Once a year representatives from all religions in Kazakhstan are called to attend a conference, to help construct harmony between faiths. The rest of the time the building is used as a conference center, a museum and a concert hall. The building is complete, the construction crane is really a block or two in front of the property of the Palace of Peace.
Other churches include Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic - when I find them, you'll see them!
I have no pictures of an LDS chapel either, for we are three and half hours from the nearest branch (congregation) of the Mormon church. Oh well. We are in the process of finding out what the mission president here wants to do (the Mormon mission headquarters for Kazakhstan is actually in Russia). But we can hold out for a while!
One of the nicest things we have had is an introduction to classic Kazakh culture, including dress, dance, song, food, and the interior look of a traditional yurt, the old-style home made from skins and lined with wool and rugs.
|A couple poses in traditional formal dress, in front of|
and interior view of a yurt.
|A British Citizen from Africa now living in |
Kazakhstan sings a traditional song and
wears a traditional coat and hat.
With all the variety of life here, we can't possibly get bored. The adventure continues!!!