Today Kalmyks pronounce this holiday in two ways: Ur or Urs Sar. It is celebrated in the first month of summer according to the lunar calendar. In the past, this holiday had less religious significance and clergy, as a rule, sufficed with reading short prayers and blessing livestock. Nomads, however, celebrated it widely by staging a horse race, taming horses and wrestling.
Almost forgotten in the Soviet period, Ur(s) Sar has been revived as a holiday to celebrate the spiritual achievements of the Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. Hence, during this holiday people try to follow Buddha’s teachings by performing good deeds. The culmination of the month falls on the 15th day, when people celebrate the birth, enlightenment and departure of the Buddha to nirvana.
During the entire holiday Kalmyks put up images of deities and decorate their dwellings with religious banners and leafy branches. Buddhist monks purify the earth and cattle by sprinkling them with a mixture of butter and milk. In their prayers Kalmyks include various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and a local deity called Tsagan Aav (White Old Man). Besides Buddhist rituals, people also perform pre-Buddhist rites involving sacrifice to the spiritual masters of land and water.
Baatr Mandzhiev, About Ur Sar
Ur Sar is celebrated when spring ends and summer begins. The celebration includes singing, dancing and various competitions, such as wrestling, horse racing, and catching horses with a pole. Ur Sar is also celebrated at home, but not as widely. This celebration is mentioned in Kalmyk heroic legends.