Astrology, Liturgy and Practice

Kalmyk Buddhism – a notion contested by some Kalmyks but supported by others – is the traditional religion of the Kalmyks. By absorbing elements from shamanism and other religions, Buddhism in Kalmykia, a place geographically distant from other Buddhist centres, have developed not only a distinct architectural style (resembling Russian Orthodox churches) but also unique rituals and practices unseen among other Mongolian groups. Thus in Kalmykia, the Tsagan Aav (the Old White Man, who is known among other Mongolian groups as a deity of nature and longevity) has been elevated to the status of a national deity. Hence almost all altars in Kalmykia are decorated with his depiction and statues on a par with the Buddha Shakyamuni. Also, many rituals are dedicated to the Tsagan Aav. Equally, the celebration of all national holidays – the Tsagan Sar, Ur Sar, and Zul – include prayers devoted to this national deity. The dates of these holidays are determined by the Kalmyk lunar calendar based on Kalmyk astrology. On this page, you can see videos about astrology, omens, liturgy, and daily practices carried out by the clergy and the laity alike.

Alexandr Nasakaev, About Religion

Alexandr says that in Kalmykia people practise both Buddhism and pre-Buddhist beliefs, including a belief in the eternal sky (tengrianstvo) and shamanism. People should accept religion consciously through their life experiences and analytical thinking rather than being guided by emotions alone. He himself received a Buddhist blessing from two lamas, Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, and became a Buddhist. This does not stop him, however, from going to traditional healers who practise non-Buddhist beliefs.

Alexandr emphasises the importance of observing basic moral principles such as not stealing, not cheating, respecting one’s parents, etc. for these principles bring peace and harmony to one’s family and soul. He also talks about the role of women in the family, including the upbringing of children.


Lidzhi Amikov, About Karma


Sanan Matvenov, About Matsg Odr and Mantras