Kazakh legend of eternal love between Kozy and Bayan

Salem, readers! On February 14, people in the United States and in other places around the world are celebrating Valentine’s Day. It is a time to celebrate romance and love. This holiday is believed to be a Western tradition, but did you know that the traditional day of love is celebrated in Kazakhstan on April 15?

Although young Kazakhs exchange gifts, cards and flowers with their significant others to express love and romance on February 14, there is also a very old tradition in Kazakhstan that is rooted in the Kazakh folklore.

Kozy and Bayan monument in East Kazakhstan

April 15 is known in Kazakhstan as Kozy and Bayan Day. It goes back to a Kazakh folk story of the eternal and tragic love between Kozy and Bayan. According to the legend, two sworn friends Sarybay and Karabay vowed to each other to cherish their friendship and marry their unborn kids to each other. The oath was sealed with their mothers’ blood.

As time passed, Sarybay had a son named Kozy. Karabay had a daughter named Bayan-sulu, a woman of enviable beauty. Few years later, Sarybay died while hunting in the mountains. In ancient Kazakhstan, a son left without a father was considered an orphan. Left without the breadwinner, Kozy and his mother also struggled to make the ends meet.

The mausoleum of Kozy and Bayan in near the village Tansyk, Ayaguz district of the East Kazakhstan region

As both Bayan and Kozy grew up, they fell madly in love with each other. But Karabay did not want his daughter to marry a destitute orphan and reneged on the sacred promise. Instead, Karabay married off his daughter to the treacherous Kodar, known for his brutality and ruse. Kodar lured Kozy into a trap and killed him. Grief-stricken Bayan decided to take revenge on the future husband. She told Kodar that she would only marry him if Kodar descended into a well holding Bayan’s long braids and bring water from the well. As Kodar descended into the well, Bayan cut off her beautiful braids and ordered her servants to fill the well with stones. After killing Kodar, Bayan stabbed herself in the heart.

There you go, readers, now you know about the deeply tragic story of Bayan and Sulu. This legend is a celebration of traditions, love and commitment.