BISHKEK - As many world countries are welcoming the New Year with celebrations and fireworks, Muslims-majority states in Central Asia are divided on marking the occasion with Western-style festivities.
This is not an Islamic celebration, Kyrgyz lawmaker Tursunbai Bakir Uulu was quoted as saying by Radio Free Europe.
Even Russians' or Christians' holy book, the Bible, doesn't mention New Year's celebrations," he told a meeting with a group of students in the capital Bishkek last week.
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"It's been made up by people and has no religious significance, Bakir Uulu, a former ombudsman, said.
Last week, the Kyrgyz Muslims' Religious Administration issued a fatwa banning New Year celebrations.
Scholar Ravshan Eratov said Muslims have their own holidays as `Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and `Eid Al-Adha, which marks the end of hajj.
A similar view is echoed by lawmaker Bakir Uulu.
Perhaps some Muslims mark this event without understanding the meaning of it, [but] New Year's is not our holiday and it is wrong for us to celebrate it."
Similar calls are growing in neighboring Tajikistan.
"Only 3 percent of Dushanbe residents are ethnic Russians, and the rest are all Muslims," wrote Muhibollo Qurbon, chief editor of the "Najot" publication, the official newspaper of Tajikistan's Islamic Renaissance Party.
"So erecting New Year's trees and celebrating New Year's doesn't make any sense for Tajik Muslim youth."
New Year celebrations began on Monday, December 31, in Australia and most Asia-Pacific nations.
In Sydney, about 1.5 million people gathered around the Sydney harbor to watch a $6.9 million fireworks show marking the New Year.
But officials insist on keeping the tradition of celebrating the New Year with fireworks and festivities.
"New Year's is marked in the official Tajik calendar with bold red letters, Dushanbe mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev said.
And we will celebrate it appropriately, he said, promising that the festivities will be grander than previous years.
Concerts, fireworks and food fairs are expected to dominate New Year celebrations in Dushanbe.
Father Frost and his sidekick Snow Maiden -- regular fixtures of Soviet-style New Year's celebrations -- will go door to door on New Year's Eve to offer sweets to children.
The mayor's office has declared that New Year's celebrations should not be attributed to any religion and that the date "has nothing to do with Jesus Christ's birthday."
New Year trees and fireworks displays are also planned for big cities in Kyrgyzstan.
The presidential palace was also going ahead with its traditional pre-New Year's gathering of overachieving students and other guests.New Year celebrations are a tradition in the former Soviet Republics.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net