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    WOMEN'S SPRING HOLIDAY IN TURKMENISTAN

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    ASHKHABAD, March 20, 2004. (RIA Novosti). This year Women's Day in Turkmenistan was not traditionally celebrated on March 8. It is timed to Novruz, the holiday of spring and New Year, which appeared in pre-Islamic epoch.

    Yesterday Turkmenistan's President presented each Turkmen woman with 200,000 manats [average wages in Turkmenistan amount to 1,756,000 manats].

    Women's Day opens a series of spring holidays. March 21 and 22 are days off in Turkmenistan, as well. The republic officially celebrates Novruz ("new day" in the Persian language) for the 11th time already.

    This holiday falls on vernal equinox. The warmth and spring of the New Day are associated in Central Asia with nature awakening and the beginning of agricultural works.

    The cooking and eating of vegetables and cereals on this day traditionally promises good luck, well-being and rich harvest. The main festive course in Turkmenistan is cooked of wheat and is called "Semene".

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