About this collection

Today Kalmyks pronounce this holiday in two ways: Ur or Urs Sar. It is celebrated in the first month of summer according to the lunar calendar. In the past, this holiday had less religious significance and clergy, as a rule, sufficed with reading short prayers and blessing livestock. Nomads, however, celebrated it widely by staging a horse race, taming horses and wrestling.

Almost forgotten in the Soviet period, Ur(s) Sar has been revived as a holiday to celebrate the spiritual achievements of the Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. Hence, during this holiday people try to follow Buddha's teachings by performing good deeds. The culmination of the month falls on the 15th day when people celebrate the birth, enlightenment and departure of the Buddha to nirvana.

During the entire holiday Kalmyks put up images of deities and decorate their dwellings with religious banners and leafy branches. Buddhist monks purify the earth and cattle by sprinkling them with a mixture of butter and milk. In their prayers Kalmyks include various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and a local deity called Tsagan Aav (White Old Man). Besides Buddhist rituals, people also perform pre-Buddhist rites involving sacrifice to the spiritual masters of land and water.

Recent Submissions

  • Tamara Bazyreva, Ur Sar 

    Terbish, Baasanjav (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2015-11-01)
  • Maria Erendzhenova, About traditional holidays 

    Terbish, Baasanjav (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-12-01)
    Maria says that during Urs Sar people offer their gods various products including milk, butter and biscuits. If one is far away from home, that person can do a simplified ritual: Milk has to be poured around oneself, whilst ...
  • Olga Budzhalova, About Urs Sar 

    Terbish, Baasanjav (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2019-04-22)
    Olga says that in the past during Urs Sar people cut soil with grass on it and brought it home. One such piece was placed in the shed with cows and another on the stove or near the hearth inside the house. Monks sprinkled ...
  • Batyr Elistaev, about rituals to appease local deities 

    Terbish, Baasanjav (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-03-21)
    Lama Batyr talks about how people in his village of Orgakin perform various rituals to appease local deities. He describes three such rituals. (1) He says that our world consists of five elements: earth, water, air, fire, ...

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