May 18 – Day of Revival, Unity, and the Poetry of Magtymguly in Turkmenistan

Posted on May 18, 2017

Good things about Turkmenistan:
  • It has the world's fourth largest reserves of natural gas.
  • For more than 16 years, citizens have
    received electricity, water, and natural gas from the government, free of charge.
  • The death penalty was abolished in the latest constitution.
The capital city, Ashgabat,
is mostly white marble buildings.

Bad things about Turkmenistan:
  • It has the reputation of being one of the world's most repressive nations, with little freedom of religion or of press and many human rights violations.
  • Most of the country is desert. Actually, Turkmenistan's desert is one of the driest deserts in the world.

Turkmenistan celebrates one of its most famous poets today. There are flower-laying ceremonies at monuments and music-and-dance and shows and poetic readings in Ashgabat (and perhaps elsewhere). 

You might be able to guess that today's honored poet, Magtymguly Pyragy, was also a spiritual leader and a political leader who encouraged his people to achieve independence and self-rule. For more on his life and work, check out this earlier post

Here are some interesting aspects of Turkmenistan:

I always hear that Muslim artists not only are not allowed to paint or sculpt God or Mohammed, they are in fact discouraged from painting or sculpting ANY human being.

But then I see statues like these, above, in a way-way-way Muslim majority nation, and I wonder, "huh?"

It turns out that different groups of Muslims have different rules about depicting humans, and there are also exceptions.

This is the "Door to Hell," a natural gas field in which a crater or pit opened up. It was discovered in 1971 and has been burning ever since.

Also on this date:

Flag and Universities Day in Haiti

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