Buddhist Rituals, Holidays and Pilgrimage

In Kalmykia all national holidays, including the Tsagan Sar, Ur Sar, and Zul, are celebrated both as national and religious holidays. On these days people hold celebrations at home and go to a temple. The ritual of calling in the Buddha Maitreya is another Buddhist holiday performed annually in the temples across Kalmykia. The Kalmyks also carry out various seasonal rituals, including gal tyalgn dedicated to ancestors, rituals to purify land, and others. Mandala offerings and tsam, both performed by visiting Tibetan monks, stand out among Buddhist rituals in terms of elaboration and grandeur. Tsam, which is a theatralized ritual involving deities from the Buddhist pantheon, has been performed only twice in Kalmykia. When it was staged the second time in September 2015 in Elista, the project team videotaped this rare and mysterious celebration, which we host in this video collection. Here you can also see videos of pilgrimages to sacred sites, including the Bogdo Mountain, the historical Khosheutovsky temple, and others.

Badma Narmaev, A Legend About the Bogdo Uul Mountain

Bogdo Uul is situated near lake Baskunchak in Akhtubinsky rayon of Astrakhan’ oblast. There are several versions of the legend about the mountain. A version that Badma recounts is what he heard from the Kalmyk writer Sandzhi Kalyaev.

Once upon a time a hero called Geser came to the Kalmyk steppes and stopped at the bottom of Bogdo Uul Mountain. It was forbidden for people to look at the mountain, for those who did so died. By conjuring up fog, Geser covered the mountain with it and safely climbed up to the top from where he could clearly see the palace of an enemy khan. With a huge arrow shot from his bow Geser slashed the palace in two. The destroyed palace turned into the snowy mountain of Elbrus that has two peaks.


Pilgrimage to the Khosheutovskiy Temple


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Buddhist Holidays


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Pilgrimage to Holy Places




Worship of Land