The Cambridge Central Asia Forum and Kazakhstan Society invited people from across the city and UK to mark the coming of spring over the weekend by celebrating Navroz, a traditional ancient Iranian festival marking the Persian New Year.

The event was held in Jesus College Chapel and included a performance by Jesus Choir alongside Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Turkish musicians and dancers.

The festival’s aim is to transcend religious, ethnic, linguistic and national divisions and to bring people together to celebrate the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalises day and night.

Professor Siddharth S. Saxena, Chairman of the Cambridge Central Asia Forum said: ‘The 2010 Central Asian Navroz celebration was the largest one in Cambridge or anywhere else in UK. The large audience of more than 300 people is an amazing endorsement of interest and support for cultures of Central Asia. Equally wonderful was how Cambridge brought together people and cultures of Central Asia and Caucuses which have grown apart since the break up of the Soviet Union.’

The Forum took this opportunity to gather Ambassadors, Embassies, the UK Foreign Office and other prominent organisations to explore policy issues surrounding energy, security, and climate change. Central Asian countries posses some of the largest petrochemical reserves and many have potential for solar, wind and hydroelectric power resources.

The group discussed and explored the prospects for the development of renewable and non-renewable energy through co-operation in Europe and Asia.

During the celebration, the Kazakhstan Minister of Education His Excellency Professor Zhanseit Tuimebayev visited Cambridge to launch the Cambridge Kazakhstan Centre in collaboration with the Cambridge Central Asia Forum and the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan.

The Kazakhstan Centre will support the awareness of Kazakh language and culture, co-ordinate scholarships to enable Kazakh students to study at Cambridge, to engage in research, and facilitate the exchange of academics and researchers to educational institutions within the Republic of Kazakhstan.

A photo exhibition was also held as part of Navroz, a total of 80 photographs were released by the Fund Forum of Uzbekistan with UNESCO in honour of the 2200 year anniversary of the city ‘Tashkent’. The shots were taken by more than one hundred photographers from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

The Cambridge Central Asia Forum is an interdisciplinary research centre that brings together scholars from arts and humanities, social, natural and biological sciences to conduct research and to study and aid development in Central Asia.

Cambridge academics launched the Forum in 2001, then under the name Cambridge Committee for Central and Inner Asia. Today the group seeks to be inclusive, not only by interacting with academics and students but with those involved in government, NGOs, business, and media.

Cambridge now has the most wide-ranging programme on Central Asia and the Caucases, covering anything from science and technology, environmental and development studies to Islamic and Judaic studies and social and political studies.

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