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Turkmen Pilgrims Return From Iranian Shrine To National Poet

A statue of the ancient Turkmen poet Magtymguly Pyragy in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat
A statue of the ancient Turkmen poet Magtymguly Pyragy in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat
ASHGABAT -- A group of Turkmen pilgrims has returned from the Islamic shrines in northeastern Iran of spiritual leader and poet-philosopher Magtymguly Pyragy and his father Azadi, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Magtymguly Pyragy (1733–97) promoted the idea of the unity and integrity of the Turkmen people.

His dream of a state for this nation is the dominant theme of his poetry, making him the most-revered Turkmen poet of classical Eastern literature.

Magtymguly is buried in the village of Aktokay in Iran's Golestan Province, which borders Turkmenistan.

He is honored every year in Turkmenistan on May 18, which is also the anniversary of the 1992 adoption of Turkmenistan's post-Soviet constitution.

Amanmyrat Bugayev, former executive director of the Union of Writers of Turkmenistan and a member of an official Turkmen delegation's visit to Magtymguly's shrine in 1987, the first in many years, told RFE/RL that little importance in Turkmenistan is given today to literature in general, but particularly to Magtymguly.

"It's really painful for me to admit that Magtymguly's poetry is no longer vital in our country, as it's become an issue of minor importance," Bugayev told RFE/RL. "Furthermore, combining the poetry day of Magtymguly with our so-called 'Most-Justified Constitution' day has wiped out the significance of this day [for him]."

The traditional annual journey to Magtymguly's grave as a mark of respect is organized by the Turkmen government, in an event in which great thanks must be shown to President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov for making the pilgrimage possible.