Posted by: ARC | December 3, 2009

Ecological Buddhist ritual on Mongolia’s Mt Hustai

Mongolian monks venerating an ovoo - from the ARC World Bank Mongolian Handbook, 2009

A newsletter from the IUCN-WCPA this month describes an environmental Buddhist ceremony on the sacred Hustai (Birch) mountain in Mongolia, some 60 miles south of the capital of Ulaan Baatar. As the magazine’s correspondent Bas Verschuuren of UNESCO explains, the 50,000 hectare region was a hunting reserve of the last ruling Khan. In 1998 it became a National Park, and four years later a Biosphere Reserve, with the reintroduction of the rare Przewalski horse one of the key ecological aims. Mt Hustai has for a long time been venerated by local people, and is a ceremonial site for Buddhists.

“After travelling by jeep (loaded with offerings) and on foot for the final ascent, they came to an immense ovoo [sacred pile of stones] surrounded by a colourful crowd of people and horses. Prayer flags and scarves and gifts of food covered the ovoo. Most people were in traditional dress, including park rangers, local government officials plus five visiting lamas from Ulan Bataar and local lamas in their orange robes. Mantras were chanted and readings from scrolls. Then everyone shared in the food and drink (including vodka) that had been brought as offerings. After walking clockwise around the ovoo three times to pay respects to the mountain (and making a wish), all descended the mountain. Surrounded by mounted Mongolian horsemen, Bas was transported back in time to when their ancestors conquered most of Asia and the Euro-Asiatic plains.”

LINK  HERE for the full newsletter.

LINK HERE for the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) website, with more details of sacred sites in Mongolia.

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