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Togtan Amunova, about national holidays

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Togtan says that birthday candles are made a day prior to Zul. Other preparations include buying sweets, making biscuits (khavtkha, togsh and khorkha varieties) and cleaning the house. The morning of Zul begins with putting the offering on the altar and preparing candlewicks for a ‘ritual to prolong one’s life’. As soon as the first stars appear in the sky, the candlewicks are erected on the candles, filled with butter and lit. All family members utter well-wishes and bow three times to the candle. The candle, which is made from dough, is fried and eaten by family members. On the first day of Tsagan Sar, the eldest in the family steps out of the house with his right leg and sprinkles tea to three different directions as an offering to gods and ancestors. Women hang their best clothes on a rope inside the house. The domestic altar is replenished with a sheep’s head and a leg. Afterwards, all family members take the sheep’s head from the altar and share it among themselves according to tradition. The tip of the sheep’s tongue, for example, has to be given to children. The domestic fire should also be fed with a piece of fat. On the outside, people burn sweets and butter as an offering for the local spirits of nature and ancestors. Urs Sar is also a sacred holiday, celebrated either in May or June. It is an auspicious time to have a wedding or give birth to children.



Tsagan Sar

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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