Not so often in Europe there are people who speak Mongolian. And almost all of them live in the Republic of Kalmykia. The people of Kalmyks came to the lands once called Polovtsy steppe. After their arrival in the 17th century, this territory became known as the Kalmyk steppe. Today it is the Republic of Kalmykia. The map shows its exact location.
Unusual people are Kalmucks. The history of the people is rooted in the past. It begins with Asia. Kalmyks come from the West-Mongolian tribes, called Oirats. They, in turn, entered the huge Mongol empire created by Genghis Khan. He managed to unite almost all the nationalities living in Central Asia at that time.
Oirats supported Genghis Khan in his aggressive campaigns against Russia, the Caucasus, China, Asia and Korea. At the same time, groups of military units were created, in which he inherited responsibilities. Over time, these units have become ethnogroups that still exist. Today, they may not have the same significance as before, because they are more closely related to conquest. For example, there is a group of traders. So called the people who were the guard of the Mongolian khans. The group of hoshets consisted of those who entered the front of the army, the derbets are the cavalry army.
The Mongol Empire was huge. Internal turmoil here was the norm. Over time, they were the cause of its split. The Oirat khans refused to obey the Great Mongolian Khagan.
The foundations of the Kalmyk religion
Until the 17th century the Kalmyks professed shamanism. But the active work of missionaries from Tibet contributed to the fact that most Kalmyks accepted Buddhism. But this did not help to preserve the integrity of the Mongolian people. The internecine wars continued. Nevertheless, Buddhism and Lamaism spread widely in the territory of modern Kalmykia.
The Kalmyk Khanate was part of Russia until 1771. In the early stages of its existence, Russian rulers did not attach much importance to the internal arrangement. The Kalmyks' religion was the freedom of their choice, and the state did not interfere in their culture. But over time, the rulers of Russia began to take measures and encourage those who took Orthodoxy. Kalmyks, who passed the baptismal ceremony, were allowed to go to other cities and villages of Russia.
At the end of the 18th century, the Russian state stepped up its interference in the internal life of the Kalmyk Khanate, gradually limiting the rights of the Kalmyks, and in 1771 it was completely liquidated. At the same time, the government of Russia reorganized Kalmyk management. Traditions and rights of the Kalmyk people were fully preserved. In the Astrakhan province, an expedition of Kalmyk affairs was created, which was engaged in the management of uluses. Later, in 1847, the fate of the Kalmyk people depended on the Ministry of State Property.
The Russian government tried not to press on the Kalmyk people in the matter of their conversion to Christians. Before the revolution among the Kalmyks, the rights of the Buddhist clergy were preserved, which were laid back in 1640. With time, the Kalmyks began to turn to the Orthodox faith. Religion began to spread rapidly after the opening of a theological seminary in Astrakhan, since Kalmykia was territorially part of the Astrakhan diocese. Then the Russian government took measures to create a mission that turns the Kalmyks into Christians. In the middle of the 19th century, the missionary movement reached its apogee. In the theological seminaries the Kalmyk language began to be taught. In 1871, the Orthodox missionary committee began its existence, with the efforts of which the school was organized and an orphanage was opened, where the Kalmucks could live. Religion deeply changed the fate of the Kalmyk people. People could get a decent education. Over time, the school turned into a huge missionary school, where teachers and preachers were trained, who were supposed to transfer spiritual knowledge in the Kalmyk settlements.
Not so actively took such revolutionary innovations of Kalmyks. The Buddha remained for the majority of the Kalmyk people the main God. Orthodoxy seemed, mainly, came from Russia. Their deep traditions did not want to change the Kalmyks. The confession was also difficult to change. What religion do the Kalmyks profess? There is no clear answer to this question. There are among the Kalmyks and Orthodox, and Buddhists, and even shamans.
Difficulties of the Kalmyk people
The arrival of Communists in power favorably affected the history of the Kalmyk region. It was they who restored unity and restored the statehood to the Kalmyks. 1926 marked the beginning of the Kalmyk autonomous region, which later became known as the Kalmyk ASSR. But the religious life of the Kalmyks at that time was badly damaged. Any religious activity was strictly oppressed. On the spiritual level, the Kalmyks experienced unprecedented difficulties. Religion by the mid-30's was completely eliminated. In 1943 the Kalmyk people were deported to various parts of Russia. And the Russians came to their territory. And only after 10 years the Kalmyks again were able to return to their land. The Kalmyk ASSR regained its life. But the legal religion on the territory of the settlement did not exist until the 80's. Still, the Kalmyks sensed spiritual oppression. The religion of Christianity began to revive only in 1984. The beginning of this was the opening of the Orthodox parish in the village of Priyutnoye. This marked the transition of Kalmykia to the Stavropol diocese. New communities began to appear among the Kalmyk population, such as Baptists and Pentecostals. In Kalmykia there is also a Buddhist community, which was formed back in 1988.
Features of Kalmyk culture
Despite numerous difficulties and a nomadic way of life, Kalmyks never for a moment forgot their traditions. The religion and culture of this people have always been linked by an invisible thread. Kalmykov was difficult to convert to the Christian faith. Centuries-old traditions made themselves felt. For many years on this earth, shamanism was practiced. This can not be torn from the heart of this Kalmyk. The peculiarity of the culture of this population is still reflected today in Mongolian settlements. Modern Kalmyk society is gradually losing its traditional identity, but there are some customs that have survived to this day.
Fire for Kalmyks is considered a sacred element. It is mentioned more than once in the ritual works of the people of Kalmykia. The deep traditions, rites and culture of the Kalmyks allow us to speak of them as an independent ethnic group.
The fire for the Kalmyk people was considered the personification of the Sun God. Therefore, there are some prohibitions, for example, to step over a fire or spit on it is considered a sinful act. Do not put out the fire with water. It is necessary to wait until he himself extinguishes. It is allowed to fill fire with sand or earth.
Worship of fire was considered a special ritual. Kalmyks even performed certain rituals to propitiate the fire. It was a kind of sacrifice. The cult of fire is a national feature of the Kalmyks. It is described in many historical works. Without a fiery sacrifice, not a single wedding or funeral took place. And today you can see the rituals in which the priest offers fire to the animal and reads special prayers. For this he asks the blessings of the Gods for the bestowal of happiness in the family life of his daughter.
The burial rite also does not pass without a fire sacrifice. On the seventh and forty-ninth day after the burial, the relatives of the deceased must sacrifice the fire of the ram, feeding the deceased relative in this way. Kalmyks sincerely believe that fire is a kind of conductor between the living world and subtle matter.
Worship of fire
Kalmyks firmly believe that fire has divine power. That is why no purification rite can not do without the participation of fire. Such rituals are described even in classical works. For example, in the work of A. Amur-Sanan describes a fiery rite, which protects travelers on the road. In the flames of fires are poured over a handful of salt. Then cattle are passed between two fires, and a cart is already following him. Today, the Kalmyks also clear their homes by fire, planting it around the house from east to west. After the funeral, you should also perform a purifying ritual with fire, holding your hands over it.
Paganism and Buddhism in the culture of the Kalmyks are firmly intertwined. Paganism speaks of fire as a representative of the God of the Sun, more precisely, in paganism, this is the God of the Sun himself. Therefore, he should sacrifice all foods that have a warm nature. It can be oil, fat, hot liquids. Buddhist tradition represents fire as a symbol of wisdom. It is believed that with his help you can burn all ignorance.
Character of the Kalmyk people
Kalmyks, like other ethno-nationalities, have their own unique character. First, they are very open. Such people are called extroverts. Secondly, they are practical and rational. The Kalmyks are intrinsic and there is a certain maximalism. Kalmyk always aspires to great deeds. He will not waste his time and attention on the implementation of small projects. Globality, grandeur and scale - all this is reflected in the heart of this Kalmyk.
Kalmyks are quite original people. At every opportunity, they tend to show their individualism and attract as much attention as possible. At the same time, the Kalmyk people respect the self-love of other people with great respect.
Kalmyks are active, energetic and artistic. This can be judged not only by their movements and national dances, but also by their speech. Kalmyks talk quickly, flexibly, fluently and concisely. In some sources, Kalmyk speech is compared with machine-gun rhythm.
Virtually all Kalmyks are optimists. They always concentrate on positive moments in life, in any person they tend to notice only positive qualities. All the works of the classical folk epic had an exceptionally positive outcome.
Nomadic peoples have always sought to glorify. The desire to be leaders in any business is also inherent in the Kalmyks. This people is very proud, but not proud. Buddhism cleared Kalmyk consciousness a little, since pride for a Buddhist is a mortal sin.
Since Buddhism is considered one of the main religious orientations for Kalmykia, a lot of Buddhist temples have been built in the republic.
The Great Victory Church (Kalmykia). Description
In the Oktyabrsky district of Kalmykia (the village of Bolshoy Tsaryn), one of the largest Buddhist communities lives. Here is the most majestic Buddhist temple in Kalmykia - the Temple of the Great Victory. Buddhist religious buildings are called Khurulis. This Khurul was erected in 2002. In just 2 years the builders succeeded in implementing the project of Sangadzhiev Yu. I., who is considered the best architect of Kalmykia. October 11, 2002 the doors of the Temple of the Great Victory solemnly flung open. Hurul was built thanks to donations from the Buddhist community itself, residents of the Oktyabrsky district and sponsors. The president of Kalmykia, Ilyumzhinov KN, also invested in construction of his own funds.
The temple is an 18 meter building. The central part is occupied by the prayer hall, in which the altar is located. In front of the khurul live monks. There is also a room for reception of visitors by the lama. The Buddha's statue appeared thanks to the efforts of the sculptors Vaskin V. and Korobeinikov S. The central entrance is decorated with a wheel of Teachings and figures of deer made by Nikolay Galushkin.
Also in Khurul is a statue of the Buddha of Medicine and a huge collection of scriptures and tanks.
In Kalmykia there are several Buddhist temples of interest to tourists.
Elista - the center of Buddhist culture
Elista is the capital of the Republic of Kalmykia. The map shows its location.
This is an unusual city, quite unlike most cities in Russia. It is decorated with Buddhist temples and picturesque buildings of eastern architecture. In people living in Elista, the world view is also oriental. Connoisseurs of oriental culture should definitely visit Elista. Here is located the most majestic temple of Buddha, famous throughout Europe. There is also a Buddhist monastery here, a favorite place of the Dalai Lama during his visits to Kalmykia. In Elista there is another amazing sight - the Golden Gate, which fulfill all desires. Elista is an incredibly colorful city. Kalmyks are a bright people. Here you can feel it fully. Beautiful national costumes, dances - all this distinguishes the Kalmyks from other Asian and Mongolian nationalities. Elista is famous not only for Buddhist buildings. There are also places of interest dedicated to chess.
The fact is that chess for Kalmyks is considered the main hobby. World chess championships are held regularly here.
The Temple of the Golden Buddha
This khurul is considered to be one of the largest not only in the Republic of Kalmykia, but also in Europe. The temple takes pride of place in the very center of Elista (Yuri Klykov Street).
The height of Khurul is 56 meters. Inside it towers a huge statue of Buddha (12 meters).
The temple is considered the main attraction of Elista. It is not only a beautiful and majestic building. This is the place to perform rituals and worship the Deity. The temple is surrounded by a symbolic fence, along the perimeter of which there are 108 stupas. You can enter the temple through the South Gate. There are three more entrances. Each of them is in a certain part of the world. The architecture of the temple is like a huge mandala. Approaching the building, you can see seventeen pagodas, on which towering statues of great Buddhist monks and teachers.
Hurul has 7 levels. On the first level there is a museum, a conference hall and a library. On the second level there is a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni and a hall for prayers. The statue itself serves as a repository for jewelry, incense, earth, plants and grains. All these Buddhists consider sacred objects. Cover for the statue is gold leaf and diamonds. The third level is designed for individual reception of visitors. Here are rooms of monks, doctors of Tibetan medicine, astrologers and the administration of the temple. At the fourth level is a small conference room. Here you can find the head of the Buddhists of the Republic of Telo Tuluku Rinpoche. The fifth level is occupied by the residence of Tenzin Gyatso (His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV). The sixth level is occupied by premises for household needs. At the seventh level, only clergymen can be raised to immerse themselves in meditation.