Edi Isaev on Customs and Traditions of Chechens
Chechens and their attitude to work
Vainakhs valued the concept "khianal" something one earns with hard work. From times immemorial Chechens highly appreciated aspiration to creative work. From early childhood, they tried to raise their children with respect to toil. A very old Chechen parable is exactly about that.
The father calls for his son and gives him 1 rouble, saying: "Go and throw it in the river". At once the son did as told. A bit later his father suggested he does the same with 10 roubles, and then with 100 roubles. His son obliged. But the day has come, when the son began to earn his own money. When he earned his very first money, he brought it to his father to please him, but father suggested he threw his first rouble in the river again. The son was indignant: "How do you mean to throw it away, when I worked so hard to earn it?". His father's answer was: "Son, but you never had a shade of confusion throwing in the river the 111 roubles I gave you, and I also worked hard to earn them". That was how his son learnt about the price of money one gets working hard.
The respectful attitude to work is emphasised by the very old Chechen tradition of shared work. For example, harvesting crops. Or in a household, which has lost its breadwinner. In this mountainous country people used to build their stone houses together, all members of the community lending a hand, with children working side by side with adults.
"Let's take a look at the "belkhi", a century-old tradition - E.Isaev writes in the book "The Vainakh Ethics", when no one is invited to take part, but rather they come to help their neighbours of their own accord, eager and glad to help someone in need. The "belkhi" is the type of work which has the character of help, mercy and charity, something known as work for the common good. The concept of "belkhi" from times immemorial has been part of the Vainakh lifestyle. It embraces the philosophy of doing good, of brotherly unselfishness and friendship. More than once have we witnessed situations when such qualities were exhibited. Just recollect the landslides in the mountains of the Nozhai-Yurt area in 1991-1993.
Then hundreds and thousand citizens of our republic, Dagestan, Ingushetia came to the aid of the injured. And when similar happened in Dagestan and Armenia, among those who by first has responded to an another's mountain there were the Chechens. Similar examples set. Is trusted, that the ethics of mercy forever remain in Chechen and Ingush traditions. In mountains stand still high, well-proportioned towers combined by ancestors present the Vainakhs! The centuries stand. It is possible to name them "as spiritual towers of the people". And the people go on "belkhi" to realise that the towers of goods, unselfishness stand and in their souls".
Hundreds and thousands of people from our republic, Dagestan and Ingushetia came to the rescue of the sufferers. And when things like that took place in Dagestan and Armenia, one of the first groups to respond to other people's misfortune was Chechens. There are plenty of such examples. It is easy to believe that the ethics of charity will forever remain in the traditions of Chechens and Ingushes. There are tall slim towers in the mountains, created by the ancestors of present-day Vainakhs! They have been there for centuries. They could be called the "spiritual towers of the nation". And people would go to the "belkhi" to realise once again that the towers of good-heartedness and unselfishness are there in their souls".
© 2007 Chechen Republic Online