About this collection

This collection hosts interviews with people who talk about Tsagan Sar as well as a Buddhist ritual videotaped in a temple in Elista.

The celebration of Tsagan Sar, or White Month, takes place two months after Zul on the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar. It is a celebration of the coming of spring when nature wakes up from its winter sleep. Because white symbolises purity and the beginning of life, the celebration is called White Month.

The preparation for the celebration begins with cleaning the house. All valuables kept in chests and drawers are taken out, cleaned and aired. People prepare their best clothes for the celebration. Both the house and the cattle-yard are purified with incense.

On the eve of Tsagan Sar all families cook traditional biscuits called bortsg , of various shapes, each of which has its own name and symbolic meaning. For example, tselvg or khavtkha symbolizes the Sun; togsh - a fence for enclosing sheep; jola - long life; khutsyn tolga - animal offspring; khorkha - fertility, etc. After the baking is done, Kalmyks light candles and place some biscuits on the family altar. The oldest members of the family perform a ritual called tsagana bortsg yoryallgn in which they utter well-wishes for the bortsg biscuits. Afterwards the biscuits are tied together with a thread pushed through them to form gift bundles. Each gift bundle must have a specific number of each kind of bortsg, that is one khavtha, six togsh, one khutsyn tolga, one jola, one moshkmr, three shor and one kit.

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