Larisa Shoglyaeva, About Tsagan Sar
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Terbish, B., & Churyumova, E. (2018). Larisa Shoglyaeva, About Tsagan Sar [Video file]. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.25313
Larisa talks about Tsagan Sar, bortsg varieties, and offerings. Larisa: During Tsagan Sar people put on their new clothes. In Siberia, when I was 4 or 5 we lived in a wooden house where each family lived in a small room. During this holiday, the people took out their clothes, shook them out and hung them on a rope. Question: Why Tsagan Sar is called so? Larisa: (In Kalmyk) Tsagan means ‘white’. In the past, the Kalmyks kept four types of livestock, including sheep, cows, horses and camels. After suckling their young, people milked the mothers. People had plenty of milk. That is why this holiday is called Tsagan Sar or ‘White Month’. It is a time when winter comes to an end, grass grows, the weather becomes warmer, and people have more to eat. In Siberia, we had lamas who calculated the beginning of Tsagan Sar. Besides doing astrological calculations, these lamas also healed sick people. The Kalmyks used to gather quietly and celebrate this holiday. We drank tea, ate meat, and uttered well wishes to each other. Before Tsagan Sar we also tidied our houses and made new clothes. The day before the holiday we made bortsg biscuits as an offering to gods. Question: What kind of bortsg did you make? Larisa: My mother made biscuits. I will tell you how she made them. The first biscuit that she made was tselvg, which is a round shaped biscuit resembling the sun. Question: Why tselvg? Larisa: Because the sun symbolizes spring. Tselvg is round shaped. My mother made a hole in the middle of the biscuit with her hand, and pinched its edges. The dough should never be cut with a knife. My mother made one tselvg for gods and one for ancestors. Both biscuits were put on the same plate. Some people also included three togsh biscuits. Today people put only one. Question: What other kinds of biscuits did you make? Larisa: Galuna baasn (a goose’s droppings), belg (a present), zhola (a horse rein), khorkha (insects). Question: Why the biscuit is called khorkha (insects)? What does it symbolize? Larisa: So that people had as many livestock (as there are insects). Other varieties are shovun (a bird), khuts (a ram), temyan (a camel). The biscuits for gods were made in the evening. People did not add pork fat or vegetable oil to the dough. Today people use vegetable oil though. The dough was mixed with milk. We did not add eggs, because we did not have them. People also made bortsg biscuits for children. I remember how in my childhood I exchanged my biscuits with other children. Every child received a ring of biscuits. At Tsagan Sar families made tea. The wife made it early in the morning and offered a tea libation to (her husband’s) ancestors. A sheep’s skull and its legs were also offered to gods and ancestors. Afterwards, the legs were eaten by children. When people sat at the table, the husband said well wishes. People paid each other visits, sang songs and danced. Today, our lamas teach us how to celebrate Tsagan Sar. We all go to the temple and pray, waiting for the goddess Okn Tengri to descend. In Orgakin we go to the temple early in the morning. We listen to the lama’s prayers, go around the temple and again listen to prayers. Question: Who is Okn Tengri? Larisa: For the Kalmyks, Okn Tengri is a special and powerful goddess. For the sake of humankind, she sacrificed her son. So, during Tsagan Sar when we go out of the temple, we greet each other (by lowering our sleeves and holding each other by the elbow): ‘How did you spend the winter?’ ‘I spent it well’. This ritual greeting is called tsagallgn. Tsagan Sar means the beginning of spring when people prepare to move to their new pasturelands. When the Kalmyks lived in yurts, after they disassembled their yurts, which was done quickly, they set a fire and threw butter and milk into it. Afterwards, the families moved past the fire to purify themselves. My father used to tell me that a fire takes all negative things away.
Tsagan Sar, biscuit varieties, offerings
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.25313
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Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/