The old people remember that in the villages, after the feast of Sabantuy, everybody discussed for months the smallest details of the main feature: the wrestling match. The winners received a sheep as a prize and became local heroes. Their fame and glory lasted for the rest of their lives.
Many things have changed in the country side in Tatarstan. The feast has changed too, but winning the wrestling contest is still a very honorable achievement. And the big prize is now a «Jiguli» car. The sheep comes with it but only to preserve the tradition.
In Tatarstan, preserving traditions is a natural thing. Life without the Sabantuy is unthinkable. Young boys climb to the top of a mast to get a pair of boots attached there, under the eyes of their girlfriends. A coin is dropped in a big bowl full of milk, and contestants try to find it with their mouth. President Putin did it, and since then, Tatars say that there is no way you can hide money from the Russian President.
In the evening after all the events, the tradition is to invite guests for a big meal. Those who had the biggest number of guests in their house had all the honors of the villagers. Those who did not have any guests got the reputation of bad hosts. Nobody wants to be seen this way, so the tradition lives on.
Things tend to change, but people and their traditions don,t. Neither does the Sabantuy.
Mikhail DOVZHENKOPhoto: Alexander BASALAEV