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Sofia Lidzhi-Goryaeva, Healing and Belief

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Churyumova, Elvira 


Sofia grew up in Dolbanskiy rayon of Astrakhan oblast’. This place is rich in terms of flora and various plants grow there, including the poppy flower which was used by the Kalmyks for medicinal purposes. Sofia’s mother collected poppy flowers, dried them and kept them in bags. Decoctions prepared from poppies were used for various illnesses. For example, a boil on top of Sofia’s head that she suffered with from when she was a child, was treated with a poppy decoction. In Sofia’s childhood decoctions prepared from fish and rice were also used. Sofia used to cook a decoction from rice by boiling it in water without adding salt. For the Kalmyks the Kalmyk tea (a tea with salt, milk and fat) is the most important drink. Not only does it help with tiredness, it also invigorates people. When they were in Siberia, many Kalmyks suffered from frostbite. A decoction from poppy flowers and a dog’s or goat’s fat are good for this. Since there was no medicine available in Siberia, many Kalmyks also used massage. Sofia’s grandmother knew how to do it. Sofia says that every person has a belief inside themselves. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union which created a spiritual vacuum, Sofia decided for herself that she needed to believe in something. She characterizes herself as a spiritual person. Spirituality helps people overcome illnesses and stay optimistic. According to Sofia, there are two aspects to healing – physical and spiritual healings. Physical health depends on the spiritual one.



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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.