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Galina Tserenova, about gal tyalgn

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Galina talks about how people in her village perform the ritual of gal tyalgn (fire ritual): This ritual is usually done in October. Each family donates a certain amount of money which is collected by special people who walk down the street. With this money we buy food for the ritual. Some monks say that it is necessary to kill a sacrificial sheep, others say that if we want meat we can just buy it. Products used for offerings include milk, sweets, sour cream, marshmallows, rice, sugar, etc. Candies and biscuits are put out separately, so are liquid offerings. When a fire is on, the monk reads prayers and the people toss the offerings into the fire. Afterwards, the monk walks around the fire and pours milk into it. After that, people cook food, meat for example if it is available. Usually, everyone participates in that. Also, for the ritual, people bring candles. The rituals takes two hours or sometimes longer. Some monks, for example Sandzhi lama from Troitsk, first purify the offerings at the old temple, other monks do this on the spot. In Tsagan-Aman, people make offerings to water, since the Volga is nearby. We do not have water sources here and therefore we do not do us tyaklgn, or water worship, here.



Ritual, gal tyalgn, fire

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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