Rules and Prohibitions
The role of traditional rules and prohibitions is of paramount importance for sustaining Kalmyk family structure, hence the roles and identities of its members. Traditional worldviews, kinship practices and hierarchies as well as daily activities are regulated through both rules that encourage certain actions and prohibitions that Kalmyks learn from early childhood.
Alena Lidzhieva, About the Symbolic Importance of Moving Clockwise
Gerel says that according to a Kalmyk tradition it is forbidden to sing songs loudly, or sing songs without uttering the words as if mooing, since these activities invite evil spirits. Gerel recounts a story when such evil spirits came to her in her dreams.
Gerel Shakeeva, About the Repercussions of Transgressing Bans
Sofia learnt many rules, traditions, and folk sayings from her mother. Sofia says that people should treat their home with respect. For example, when entering a house, one should try not to touch the doorstep with their foot. In the past when the Kalmyks lived in yurts, they took off their hats when entering a yurt. There are the following prohibitions inside the house: it is forbidden to whistle, cross one’s hands, and hold hands behind the back. Guests should be offered a cup of tea (with sweets and biscuits).
Traditionally, when a new bride enters the house of her husband, she is given a new name by her parents-in-law. For example, if the bride was called Tsagan (White) she could be called Gilyan (Fair). Brides are not supposed to call their in-laws by their names.
During celebrations, the first cup of tea should be offered to the oldest man. Sofia says that many traditions are not being followed, partly because the Kalmyks have forgotten their language.