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Batyr Elistaev, About Rituals to Appease Local Deities

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Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 


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, and space. Our physical and astral bodies also consist of these elements. The Kalmyks have always had an understanding that they should give something back to nature. The ritual of offering to the spiritual masters of water (lakes, ponds, rivers etc.) and land is performed in the spring, between April and May. In Orgakin this ritual is performed by the local pond which is believed to be the place where a local spiritual master – a snake – lives. Many locals have seen the snake. The offerings include goat’s milk, milk of a red cow, wool threads, sweets, flowers, coins, and candles. The offerings are put on small rafts and floated on the water. The ritual is accompanied by prayers dedicated to the spiritual masters of the pond. Sacred places like this, lama Batyr contends, are few in Kalmykia, because people have severed their links with such beings. In Orgakin this ritual is performed each year. Many local people have noticed that since they started performing this ritual, nature changed for the better: there is more rain, the grass grows better, and the livestock is on the rise. (2) In Orgakin people also perform a ritual of making offerings to earth. This ritual is performed on a small hill called Kermen Tolga where another local deity lives. It is only men who are allowed to go to the top of the hill. The ritual consists of putting stones on the hill and offering libations of milk and vodka to the deities so that they help the local people. (3) During Ur Sar people in Orgakin worship Tsagan Aav. Men make offerings to Tsagan Aav and other local deities by means of doing competitions, including a horse race, wrestling, and archery. Before the games, the representatives of all the local seven clans come to the temple one by one to listen to prayers and make offerings from 6 am to 9 pm. All in all, this part lasts for seven days. All the offerings are then put together and used as prizes in the competitions.



Ur Sar, rituals, deities

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