The most favourite of all the folk holidays in Tatarstan, Sabantui, will be celebrated in Kazan on Saturday. In line with tradition, the capital of the republic is the last to mark this holiday, completing the celebration of it at villages, district centres and cities of Tatarstan.
This holiday is timed to the end of the sowing campaign and symbolizes continuity of the past, the present and the future. Sabantui has long gone beyond the framework of a purely Tatar holiday and has become international, and is impatiently awaited as a signal event by all the inhabitants irrespective of nationality and religious belief.
Sabantui is a unique holiday. It combines all the features of a theatre, a stadium, and a picnic. Young and old people find entertainment at it. The sports competitions, horse races, national wresting and entertainment games impart a unique national colour to the holiday.
Being national-cultural heritage of the Tatar people, the holiday embodies the vivid features of spiritual culture and has an immense educational value. Considering its great historical and cultural importance, the administration of the city prepared documents on including the Sabantui holiday in the list of Masterpieces of Vocal and Non-Material Heritage of Mankind of UNESCO.
This year the holiday will be marked in seven main arenas of Kazan (its districts also number seven), at the stadiums, and on the Volga and Kazanka banks. It is difficult to enumerate all the events of the holiday. For instance, a concert of the top artists of Tatarstan and amateur artistic companies, and competitions in 18 sports, including such exotic ones as climbing a 15-metre-high vertical post, running in sacks and running with yokes and pails full of water, a "battle" by means of bags on a horizontal beam, and a competition in speed sawing of log, will be held for the participants and guests of the fete in the birch grove of the Sovetsky district.
Traditionally, festive trade will be in full swing on the special grounds on this day. The participants and guests of the "plough festival" will have a chance to taste various national dishes and to buy articles made by handicraftsmen.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.