Buddhist Rituals, Holidays and Pilgrimage

In Kalmykia people celebrate three major holidays, including Tsagan Sar, Ur(s) Sar, and Zul, each considered both national (secular) and religious holidays. On these days, Buddhist temples hold large prayer services, and people celebrate both at the temple and at home. Other celebrations that are on the religious calendar are the ritual of inviting Buddha Maitreya, the ritual of circumventing a temple with Ganjur and Danjur texts, the Dalai Lama’s birthday, and others.

Rituals that combine Buddhist and pre-Buddhist beliefs and which are dedicated to ancestors, local spirits and Buddhist deities constitute seasonal rituals of gal tyalgn (fire rituals), gazr us tyaklgn (rituals dedicated to masters of water and land), usn arshan (rituals performed to secure the rain, good harvest, a successful fishing trip, etc.) and several others.  

Among Buddhist rituals the construction of sand mandalas and the dance of tsam stand out in terms of elaboration and visual effects. Both are performed by Tibetan monks who come to Kalmykia for these occasions at the invitation of the Central Temple.

Pilgrimage is an inseparable part of Buddhism. In the past the main destination for Kalmyk pilgrims was Tibet, whereas today many go on a pilgrimage not only to distant places such as India, Mongolia and Buryatia, but to nearby locations, including the Mount Bogdo and Khosheutovskiy Temple, both of which are in the neighboring Astrakhan oblast. In recent years trips to listen to the Dalai Lama’s teachings held in Baltic countries are also becoming popular.

A Press Conference with the Dalai Lama, Riga 2017

This video features a press conference given by the Dalai Lama in Riga, Latvia, on 23 September 2017. His Holiness answers questions put forward by the local press and journalists from Kalmykia and Buryatia.


Andrei Terentev, About Buddhism in Russia


Pilgrimage to Bogdo Uul, 2017


Pilgrimage to the Khosheutovskiy Temple


Ritual of Circuiting the Khanata Village with Sacred Texts


Ritual of Making Offerings to the Masters and Protectors of Land


Ritual of Offering to the Protectors of Land


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Buddhist Holidays


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Pilgrimage to Holy Places


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About the Dalai Lama’s Teachings in Riga, 2017




Worship of Land