March 1 marks Gratitude Day in Kazakhstan

A viral video by Aziza Gulyamova, a popular make-up artist from Astana, sparked hundreds of enthusiastic comments, almost half a million views, and numerous shares in social networks and chats. The video on her Instagram page pays tribute to the deportation of peoples to Kazakhstan, recalling a time when by order of the Soviet authorities, hundreds of thousands found themselves displaced, and the boundless steppe became their homeland.

“Kazakhstan is a highly multiethnic country. I’m familiar with two stories of people’s deportation. The first is the deportation of the Meskhetian Turks to Kazakhstan on November 14, 1944. My daughter is a Meskhetian Turk herself. The second is the expulsion of the Vainakh (Chechen and Ingush) populations on February 23 of the same year. A total of 200,000 Turks currently reside in Kazakhstan. They formed a diaspora, yet they have established a very strong connection with the Kazakh people, respecting and adhering to their customs,” Gulyamova noted.

Mavi Valiyeva is one of the representatives of the Meskhetian Turks’ diaspora. The hair stylist has worked in Gulyamova’s team for over three years. They are united not only by work and friendship, but also by love for their homeland - Kazakhstan. This love was instilled from childhood, when family members used to tell stories about how Kazakhs helped hundreds of thousands of migrants in those difficult times. Valiyeva’s grandfather was among those who were transported into the unknown in cold freight wagons.

“There are eight children and many grandchildren in our family. We used to gather at our grandparents’ house every weekend. They would share stories of the hardships they endured in earlier times. Some of the deported moved back to Georgia while others returned to Turkey. However, my parents don’t want to go back to Turkey. They prefer living in Kazakhstan and hold deep gratitude towards the Kazakh people. When we visit Turkey, we don’t feel like locals because our identity leans more towards Kazakh culture,” Valiyeva shared.

In February 1944, more than 400,000 Chechen-Ingush families were deported to Kazakhstan, including the Albakovs. Today, their descendants live peacefully in Kazakhstan, speak the state language, and serve both traditional Chechen and Kazakh dishes, such as beshbarmak and baursaks, on holidays. Especially, on the Day of Gratitude, which has become a true symbol of the unity of multinational Kazakhstan.

“This holiday holds great personal significance for me and my people because we are immensely grateful to Kazakhstan and the Kazakh people for the warm reception and assistance they provided during the difficult deportation period. This country is our home. We deeply respect the traditions of the Kazakh people while also cherishing our own,” said Astana resident Tamila Albakova.

It is noteworthy that other ethnic groups were also resettled in Kazakhstan. Thus, the country today has become a common home for representatives of 124 nationalities.