Author: Sabira ALAKBAR
And that day has come. The day when we could hear the rhythms of the Azerbaijani mugham Bayati Shiraz on the Cidirduzu Plain in Shusha, in the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, again. It has travelled quite a long distance in the Universe and returned to our hearts, where it’s always been, recharged with the energy of the Almighty. And everyone, the whole world saw this day.
We are back in Shusha. We hold the Xaribulbul Music Festival, we perform a solemn prayer service on the occasion of the Ramadan holiday 29 years later in the Yuxari Govharaga mosque that has risen from the ashes, we drink water from the restored Xan Qizi spring, we revive the Shusha art gallery to bring back the glorious Garabagh carpets, we admire the fireworks of peace in the skies over Shusha; finally, we are laying the foundation for a new mosque as a religious temple and an example of modern architecture. It is difficult for us to hold back tears, and we surrender to their power, but already without the bitterness of loss. We cry with joy and praise God in the name of the blessed memory of those who sacrificed their lives for these blessed days, for the opportunity to live them. And we thank their mothers for raising such heroes. We thank our army, our soldiers, officers and generals and the Supreme Commander for the liberated lands, for the opportunity to breathe the air of Victory. “This is an unprecedented heroic dastan,” President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said at the opening of the Xaribulbul music festival, meaning how difficult it was for the army to liberate Shusha barehanded while climbing up the steep mountain the city is sitting on top. And today the Cidirduzu receives its first guests after a thirty-year break to ensure the continuity of this heroic dastan in the name of life.
At the festival:
Soldier: "Mr. Supreme Commander, with your permission, a group of commandos would like to take a photo with you."
"We are here forever!"
There are so many symbols and signs showing that the festival was held specifically during the days when we celebrate the blessed month of Ramadan. God Himself illuminated our victorious path, and we believe that this path will continue. There are still many significant days ahead of us under the symbol of peace and victory, the Xaribulbul flower.
"Thank you! A year ago, this place witnessed different music and actions. The enemy received a fitting response for all crimes. From now on, this place will witness only the Azerbaijani music, the music of peoples living in Azerbaijan. This is truly a great historical achievement. Every time I come here, I experience special feelings. I am sure that you are also experiencing these feelings, because we were lucky to see Shusha again. This is great. ...We are back forever, and we will live here forever. I said that Shusha will become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Not only Shusha, but all the other liberated cities,” Ilham Aliyev said at the opening ceremony of the Xaribulbul Festival.
His words, a large and beautiful stage surrounded by mountains, a concert, Shusha, Cidirduzu. Twenty percent of the native land means twenty percent of our heart. There is no more damaged Azerbaijan and no more damaged souls. There is no more evil raging on Cidirduzu in a hellish dance because it has been and will always be so when the Good defeats the Evil. Whoever comes to us with a sword will die by the sword. Whoever invites us to listen to mugham as a guest in our own house will himself become an unwanted guest. I wonder what the wife of the former Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, Anna Hakobyan, was feeling when she watched the Xaribulbul festival. Back in 2019, she made quite an imprudent gesture by inviting the First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva to listen to Azerbaijani mugham as a guest in Garabagh. Yes, Mrs. Hakobyan, you were right, this is not a fantasy! Your prediction has come true! However, now it is your time to listen to Garabagh Shikestesi on TV and performed by Azerbaijani musicians.
At the festival:
The fireworks, which painted the skies of Garabagh and ancient Shusha in bright colours was a message to the whole world meaning that life without war is possible, if there is a strong will.
Shusha, we are back!
We have resumed the Xaribulbul festival, a flower of unprecedented beauty, which, according to a legend, grows only in Azerbaijan and blooms in May in Shusha. Now we expect the restoration of the mausoleum constructed back in 1982 on top of the grave of the Azerbaijani poet and statesman, the vizier of the Garabagh Khanate in the 18th century, Molla Panah Vagif. We also expect to take part in the Days of Vagif poetry, which were traditionally held in Shusha in July since 1982. This will happen too! A thirty-year break with our native land, full of tears and bitterness, with a dream that someday historical justice will prevail, made us even stronger! We appreciate our native Azerbaijani culture even more, with more love and tender. We have become one! There have been so many words said during this period, so many interviews given by public and cultural figures of Azerbaijan. And all of them ended with the following words: "I believe someday we will meet in Shusha." Unfortunately, many of those dreamers cannot experience this wonderful moment. But they always believed that this day would come true! We know that they are watching our joy from heavens. Today their souls rest in peace!
Historical truth and justice confirms our deeds, so does the Creator! A new mosque in Shusha with the foundation laid by President Aliyev will have a symbolic architecture: it will look like the number 8 – the day when the city was liberated – and the number 11 with its two minarets, implying the eleventh month, November, when Shusha and Garabagh were completely liberated. Façade of the mosque will be decorated with geometric patterns used in the minarets of the old Shusha mosque. This architectural element will symbolise confidence in the prosperous and successful future of Shusha, connection between the past and the present. And the future with a peaceful sky overhead.
Festival and video footage of unforgettable performances of the legendary Bulbul, Seyid Shushinski, Khan Shushinski, Rashid Behbudov, Shovket Alekberova, glorifying Azerbaijan and Garabagh. Compositions by Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Fikret Amirov, Gara Garayev, Alekber Taghiyev, Muslim Magomayev, Niyazi, Tofig Guliyev, Vasif Adigozalov and other composers. Performances by Alim Gasimov, Azerin, Dinara Aliyeva, Elchin Azizov, Alikhan Samedov, Farhad Badalbeyli, Mansum Ibrahimov, Murad Adigozalzade, Natig Shirinov, Polad Bulbuloglu, ethnic folk groups represented by different peoples living in Azerbaijan and many others are our wealth. This is what real Azerbaijan is like indeed – peaceful, beautiful, talented and tolerant!
Culmination of the festival, which caused tears of joy and pride for beloved Azerbaijan, were the words of the national leader Heydar Aliyev about the native lands under occupation: “I wish we could go to Shusha. We will go there, believe me that we will. Shusha is the heart of Azerbaijan, a source of pride for every Azerbaijani. Shusha is a symbol of our culture and history. Shusha is a road for all of us. But not only Shusha, the Lachin mountains are also dear to us. We can never live without Lachin, as well as the beautiful cities of Aghdam, Fuzuli, Cabrayil, Zangilan, Qubadli, the springs of Kalbacar, Isti Su. We cannot live without them." And also the words of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev, which he said in his address to the people on the day of the liberation of Shusha, November 8, 2020: “I am happy that I have fulfilled my father's will. We liberated Shusha! This is a great victory! Today the souls of our martyrs, the soul of the great leader rejoices! Congratulations, Azerbaijan! Congratulations, Azerbaijanis of the world! Dear Shusha, you are free! Dear Shusha, we are back! Dear Shusha, we will revive you! Shusha is ours! Garabagh is ours! Garabagh is Azerbaijan!"
Final chords of the festival:
President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughters Leyla and Arzu Aliyevs took the stage to thank all the participants of the festival and made a joint photo: ‘The victorious iron fist of Azerbaijan’.
The first Xaribulbul music festival was held in 1989 to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the outstanding Azerbaijani singer Seyid Shushinski.
In total, about 100 people from various republics of the former USSR attended the festival. Concerts were held on seven stages built on the Cidirduzu Plane. The festival opened with the performance of 12-15-years-old singers-khanende, who performed the mugham Garabagh Shikestesi. On the first day of the festival, there were also races on the Garabagh horses. Spectators were mainly residents of the city of Shusha. There was also a traditional wrestling competition held during the festival.
In 1990, the festival received international status. Folk groups from the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Turkey were invited to take part, causing a great public resonance. Due to the difficult situation in Shusha after the outbreak of the Garabagh conflict, the main concert of the festival was held in Aghdam. Some concerts were also held in other cities of Garabagh, including in Barda and Aghjabedi. In general, the festival was attended by 170 people from different countries.
The 3rd festival took place in 1991. The event was attended by 300 people from 25 countries, including new members from the USA and Australia. According to the initiator of the festival, Polad Bulbuloglu, this was the most successful event compared to the previous two. Due to the large number of spectators, concerts were held in stadiums.
Final concerts of 1990-1991 took place at the Palace of the Republic in Baku.
The 4th festival (1992) was supposed to start on May 15 and become the largest. It was planned to gather about 500 people from more than 30 countries around the world. However, the event was cancelled due to the occupation of Shusha by Armenia on May 8.
The Xaribulbul flower is also known as a Caucasian Ophrys (Ophrys caucasica in Latin). It is a species of perennial herbaceous plants of the genus Ophrys of the Orchidaceae family. Azerbaijani population of the Mountainous Garabagh has always treated this flower in a special way. Xaribulbul has become a real symbol of Shusha and Garabagh.
Xaribulbul looks like a nightingale, hence the name of the flower: xar (khar) and bülbül meaning a thorn and a nightingale, respectively. Of the three petals of the flower, two resemble wings, while the one in the centre looks like a bird's head. This is a fragile flower, which has formed a basis for many legends and traditions. According to one of the legends, as a sign of love for his wife Agha-beyim Agha, daughter of the Garabagh khan Ibrahim-Khalil, the Iranian ruler Fatali-Shah built a luxurious palace. One day Agha-beyim asked her husband to lay a garden in the palace, which would look like a miniature model of Shusha, so that it could warm her heart, which longed for her homeland Shusha. Skilled gardeners from Shusha have planted all kinds of trees, shrubs and flowers growing in Garabagh in the new garden, which was named Vətən bağı (Homeland Garden). All the plants brought from Garabagh took roots on the Iranian soil but the most expensive flower for the residents of Shusha, Xaribulbul. Agha-beyim wrote poems on this subject full of grief and sadness.
Xaribulbul is an irreplaceable symbol of the Azerbaijani culture. It is under state protection, and is a red-listed species because of its exclusivity.