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Russia Celebrates the Ancient Tatar Festival of Sabantui

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Sabantui is a summer festival celebrated by Russia’s Bashkir and Tatar ethnic minorities.

Dating back to the 7th century, Sabantui — which translates to "plough's feast" in Turkic languages — began as a festival celebrated by rural farmers ahead of the sowing season. 

As time went on, it evolved into a national festival for Tatars. The yearly event features distinctive sporting events, games, dancing and plenty of vibrant costumes.

Today, it is seen as a symbol of Russia's republic of Tatarstan and is celebrated in cities across Russia, Europe and Asia that have major Tatar diasporas.

Here’s a look at how this ancient festival is celebrated across present-day Russia:

These dancers' elaborate costumes didn't stop them from soaring through the air.

Moscow's Sabantui festival in Kolomenskoye Park featured plenty of dancing in traditional garb.

Festival-goers partake in a classic Sabantui sacks-battle on the crossbar, where the aim is simple: knock your opponent off or be knocked off first.

A photo op with a taxidermied friend.


Dancers moving in sync in Russia's Chelyabinsk region.

Music performed on traditional instruments sets the vibe.

In more recent years, Sabantui has often been combined with folk and pop music festivals in addition to accordion festivals.

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