Dastarkhan – the center of the home, a symbol of hospitality and well-being
Dastarkhan – the center of the hearth, a symbol of hospitality and well-being of the peoples of Central Asia and the East. The whole family gathers at dastarkhan for eating and drinking tea. Dastarkhan spread out in front of a guest who appeared in the house. Dastarkhan is a kind of “tablecloth”, on which the most delicious dishes, tea and sweets appear. But who of us knows how dastarkhan appeared?
Dastarkhan – tablecloth, which is used by many peoples of Central Asia and the East at the time of eating. Dastarkhan is a square or rectangular piece of beautiful fabric. And every hostess is trying to make sure that her dadarhan not look shabby, with holes from constant use. For dastarkhan take a bright beautiful fabric. The edges of the tablecloth can be covered with gold braid or decorated in other ways. Dastarkhan spread on the floor or on low tables, around it they lay bright kurpach (light, narrow mattresses) and scatter a lot of small pillows so that people sitting comfortably seated.
Why is there such a custom to spread dastarkhan on the floor? Judge for yourself, the word “dastarkhan” comes from the Persian language, where dastur means tablecloth, khan – food. The ancient Persians traveled light. Most likely, they brought this custom to the lands of Central Asia. They did not take bulky things with them, including furniture. It was not expedient to carry a table with them. That is why they started to use such a piece of cloth which could be spread anywhere as a table. This custom they have adopted and still use it.
Although dastarkhan is a kind of table, a place where people eat food, in contrast to the European concept, dastarkhan is used exclusively for meals. You never see, for example, a schoolboy doing homework at dastarkhan, or a person reading a newspaper at dastarkhan or ironing clothes on it. Dastarkhan is given special reverence and respect. After a meal the youngest present carefully collects an empty tablecloth and goes to a specially designated corner of the yard to accurately shake out the contents (crumbs of bread, rice or other food remnants), which then will be picked up by domestic animals. Then clean dastarhan put away, wrapping in it bread, sweets, dried fruits and other delicacies so that at the right time to spread it again in front of the family or an unexpected guest.
By the way, firstly sweet things, bread (usually lepyoshka) and tea are put on dastarkhan. They are not removed during the entire meal. And then after that all other dishes are placed.
So let your house be full of guests and life be full of joy, as this dastarkhan is full of sweets!