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Vladimir Boldyrev, Rituals Connected with the Birth of a Child

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


The birth of a girl was not as joyous an occasion as the birth of a boy. After his umbilical cord dried out and fell off, guests were invited to celebrate the boy’s birth. A sheep was slaughtered and its tibia bone was hung above the entrance of the yurt. Even dogs were happy on this occasion, for they were given bones and food leftovers from the boy’s meals. By contrast, the birth of girls was not celebrated, for they left their families following their marriage to join their husbands’ clans. If a child could not walk for a long time, people performed a special ritual. The child’s paternal male relative took scissors and cut invisible ties between the legs of the child, while uttering a well-wish. Another custom was when an old man threw his hat between the legs of the child. In the past, in order to remove a fear from a child, old people shouted loudly. Today, by contrast, parents do not allow for their children to be shouted at. About children with mental disabilities (dutu zuurm). It was believed that children with mental problems were born to clans that had committed great sin. Since there were no clinics, such children were treated by lamas.




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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