Tatyana Matsakova, about fire
Tatyana talks about the importance of fire in Kalmyk culture: Kalmyk people show great respect to fire. Before any important undertaking, people perform the ritual of gal tyalgn (fire worship). Before moving to another place, people light candles, get rid of useless and old stuff by burning them on a fire, and read prayers to the place. In the past, our ancestors did this ritual before leaving their winter camps and again upon their arrival at their spring pastureland. Fire purification is performed when someone has dropped his/her purse into mud, or when a child falls ill. In the latter case, a bowl is filled with clean water and a burning match is held around the patient. Nine matches should be burnt in total and tossed into the bowl. Gal tyalgn is also performed to call in happiness. For this, a monk reads prayers and the hosts light a fire. Until recently the Kalmyks had a hearth in their houses and children were told how to handle fire from an early age. For example, it is not permitted to spit into a fire, nor chuck ashes at will. My maternal grandfather suffered from shortness of breath. His explanation for his condition was that being an orphan he had nobody around to teach him how to respect fire. Once he extinguished a fire with water thus disrespecting it.