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Valentina Badma-Ubushaeva, About Traditional Holidays

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Valentina talks about how people celebrated Tsagan Sar, Urs Sar and Usn-Arshan in Kazakhstan during the exile years. Valentina reminisces that during Tsagan Sar her parents used to take out their clothes and hang them on a rope. They also made bortsg biscuits and shared them with their neighbors. Since there was nothing else available, people did not drink vodka. Today Valentina pays a visit to her elders by taking biscuits, sweets, tea and butter with her. The elders offer tea and say well-wishes. During Zul Kalmyks add a year to their age. Valentina’s father used to go out on the street, make a small hill from sand and place a box on the top where their neighbors put their candles and read prayers. These candles were called dendr in Kalmyk. Each candle had wicks, the number of which matched the age of the person who brought the candle. An additional candle with 9 wicks was placed underneath the open roof of the yurt so that the skies could see the candle’s light. There was a holiday called Usn-Arshan that Kalmyks in her village used to celebrate. Everyone, both old and young, went to the river and threw white coins into it. Then they went into the river, washed their face three times and drank three times. At the end the people filled their vessels with water which they drank later.



Tsagan Sar, Urs Sar, Usn-Arshan, exile, Kazakhstan

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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