Daily Activities

A day in a traditional Kalmyk family begins with the opening of the curtains to let light in, cooking breakfast, and attending to the family altar. It is usually the young bride's duty to wake up first, cook, look after the household, put offerings on the family altar, and go to bed last. During the day every member of the family is assigned activities based on gender, age, and hierarchy. Men are supposed to be bread-winners, undertake physically demanding chores, and represent the family, whereas women and girls are expected to do domestic work. Before setting off on a long journey, Kalmyks visit their close relatives, or invite them home to perform a ritual called haalg yoryallgn in order to secure a successful and safe journey. It is also forbidden to take out rubbish so as not to pollute the journey. Guests are treated with a cup of tea or tobacco and are expected to be seen off outside the flat or house. At dusk it is forbidden for women to visit other people's homes or even go out. Other activities that are discouraged in the evening are taking certain types of products, including milk, yoghurt, cheese, and salt, out of the house.

On this page you can watch videos and listen to stories about daily activities in Kalmyk families.

Anna Antonova, Worship of the Home and Altar

Anna teaches her children and grandchildren to always remember, visit, and care for their paternal house where they were born and brought up. It is a custom in her family to go to a Buddhist monk and ask for prayers when a member of the family sets out on a long journey. Anna asks her family members who happen to be far away to burn incense or light up a candle (zul) when they get homesick. In order to provide prosperity, protection and happiness to the whole family, Anna hangs Buddhist hiimori flags in her yard.

The household where Anna lives consists of two houses. The first house was built in 1958 by her father-in-law, and the second in 1972. There are also two tall trees planted by her father-in-law. Both houses and trees, which are associated with the memory of the patriarch, are respected by all members of the large family. During national holidays the trees get decorated.

Anna’s mother-in-law who lives in the first house reads Buddhist prayers daily. On special auspicious days all members of the family also receive a blessing from the grandmother. According to Kalmyk custom, every day the first cup of freshly brewed tea is offered to gods. During national holidays, the first portion of the family meal is put on the family altar.