Mongol Religion: The
ancient Mongols believed in many gods and goddesses and demons.
One of the reasons the ancient Mongols never
became an agricultural society is that they believed it was terribly
wrong to dig the soil or cut the grass. To them, these were attacks on
nature. If you attacked nature, you would have bad luck.
The ancient Mongols worshiped nature - they worshiped the sun, the
moon, the planets, the earth, the sky, mountains, hills,
lakes, streams, and animals.
They also worshiped fire. There were a bunch of rules
about fire. You were forbidden to throw dirt on a fire. You could not put
a stick in a fire. You could not jump over a fire. The ancient Mongols
made offerings to fire, which was usually a piece of grease. When the
grease was tossed into the fire, it made quite a satisfying crackle and
Shamans were the holy men of the ancient Mongols.
They were credited with special powers that allowed them to talk
to the gods on behalf of their tribe.
When someone died, for example,
the tribal Shaman would go into a trance, so he could accompany the spirit
of the dead person to the other world.
Shamans also performed the Tsam, a
dance the ancient Mongols believed would rid them of evil spirits. Some
Shamans inherited their job from their father. Others found their powers
after an illness or a calamity.
These are little figurines that represent
various gods and goddesses, with famous Shamans of the
are little piles of stone that act as alters. Each tribe had its own style
of building an ovoo. Offerings of food or other goods were placed on an
ovoo to bring luck into your life.
One of their many rules was that it was
imperative to circle the ovoo three times in a clockwise direction when
leaving an offering or you would never find luck.
Today, the nomad
people of Mongolia still build ovoos in the old way. As you travel,
you might pass a small pile of rocks with an old bottle, a used car part,
and perhaps a ribbon on it. This may not be litter. These may be
meaningful gifts left carefully on a family ovoo, asking the ancient gods
for a favor.
Today, most of the Mongolian people are Buddhist.
But the old ways are still amongst them as you can see in their festivals
Mongols for Kids Index