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Zinaida Lidzhieva, worship of the masters of land and water



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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Zinaida talks about gazr us tyaklgn (worship of land and water): After the ritual of gazr us tyaklgn (worship of land and water) all wishes become fulfilled. This ritual consists of offering hot food to deities and uttering well wishes. After the Kalmykis returned to Kalmykia from Siberian exile, we immediately performed the ritual of gal tyalgn. We used a goat on that occasion. After that we used only sheep. Once, the chairman of the nearby farm brought a couple of sheep for the ritual. One sheep was used as an offering. We made a small boat, put candles and other offerings, and lowered the boat into the water. The temple of our clan of Tsaatan was in a place called Tsagan-Ovstya. A monk called Telyan Stepan, who studied in Mongolia, taught us the whereabouts of that place. Today, nothing left from that temple, except for few stones. During the religious repression, the temple was destroyed and the monks were dispersed, some of whom fled abroad. People built a small prayer house on the site of that old temple. In that building we light candles, but we carry out large rituals outside which we advertise beforehand in the newspapers. For the ritual of gal tyalgn we erect a yurt, light candles, utter well wishes and make offerings to deities. Not far from Tsagan-Ovstya we have also built a stupa. The stupa has flowers and other objects put inside it. Several young people from our clan kept a statue of Buddha from Mongolia for five years, before installing it inside the stupa. Through the ritual of worshiping land and water, people express their respect to the spiritual masters of nature. Prayers are addressed to the masters of that particular land and water sources, as well as Tsagan Aav. People light candles, offer coins and sweets and utter well wishes. Milk, vodka and shuurmug are sprinkled into the fire. Vodka is also sprinkled into the fire, to the ground and to the skies.



Ritual, land, water

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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