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Maria Kamandzhaeva, About Tsagan Sar

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Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 


Maria talks about and shows how to celebrate Tsagan Sar: I have made tea. Now I will make an offering to gods with tea libation. (She opens the door and explains) I put my right leg outside the doorstep, hold the tea spoon in my right hand, and sprinkle the content upwards and say: ‘I offer you libation, oh, goddess Okn Tengri and many other gods!’ Tsagan Sar is a joyous celebration. It means the beginning of spring. It is time when ground squirrels wake up from hibernation. People prepare for Tsagan Sar by making bortsg biscuits. Vegetable oil cannot be used to fry it, only sheep’s or cow’s fat is allowed. Milk is mixed with salt, butter and flour. When you are making the biscuits, your house should be filled with smoke. Today, people also use vegetable oil. An offering to gods includes the following varieties of bortsg: tselvg, togsh, zhola and moshkmr. The biscuits are divided into 3 groups: one for the house, one for gods, and the rest for children. In terms of order, the first biscuits to be fried in the pan are tselvg that resemble the sun. Other varieties are as follows: togsh resembles a livestock pen, shovun resembles a bird, moshkmr resembles sheep’s intestines. It symbolizes peace and understanding, zhola resembles a horse rein, symbolizing a long life, khuts symbolizes an abundance in livestock, ovrtya togsh symbolizes an abundance in cattle, temyan resembles a camel, which is the most respected animal, shor represents a weapon to protect one’s house from invaders, khorkha symbolizes fertility. In the morning of Tsagan Tsar one should make offerings to gods, including a cooked sheep’s head and legs. The legs are given to one’s daughter’s children. The bortsg biscuits are also given away as presents.



Tsagan sar, rituals, biscuits

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