Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Month: April, 2010

Mongolian Wrestling

Mongolian wrestling has rules and ceremonies that make it not only a test of physical strength but also a matter of tradition. There are rules that govern the ceremonies to be done before and after wrestling, the actual wrestling, and the special clothes to be worn. The clothes worn for wrestling are the hat, tight jacket, briefs and boots.

In the Mongolian national festival, 256, 512 or 1024 wrestlers wrestle; in provincial or local festivals, 32, 64, 128 or 256 wrestlers wrestle.

While the wrestling opponents are chosen by draw in the first two rounds of the competition, in the third and following rounds, they choose their own opponents, beginning with the highest-titled wrestlers. When Mongolian wrestlers wrestle, differences in weight and age are not taken into account; and, if the elbow, knee or either side of the body touches the ground, it is considered a fall.

Before wrestling, the famous, titled wrestlers stand on the left side, and those with lower titles stand on the right side. When a wrestler’s second takes the wrestler’s hat and calls his name, the wrestler struts in the  manner of a flying eagle and enters the wrestling area. He enters and takes the stance of a strong animal, like a lion or elephant. At this time, the second gives his  wrestler advice–speaking of the other wrestler’s weaknesses and what techniques will make him fall. The seconds must have been wrestlers, know wrestling techniques well, and call the wrestling titles well. When the wrestling match is completed, the winning wrestler performs the ceremony of strutting and claiming victory over the fallen wrestler. The fallen wrestler knows that he has lost, and unties the belt of his jacket. After the winner does the ceremony of claiming victory, he takes his hat from his second, puts it on, and struts around the flag in front of the ceremony’s big tent.

Wrestlers who win more than five rounds of the competition receive titles. If they win five rounds, they are titled “falcon,” seven rounds, “elephant,” if they win, “lion,” “champion,” etc.

In every odd-numbered round, beginning with the third, the titles of the wrestlers standing on the right and left sides are called. The announcement includes that wrestler’s home territory, all the titles he’s won, and finally which wrestler he will wrestle next.  When the second calls the title, he sings it. At the very end, however, the titles of the final two wrestlers are not called. When they go out to wrestle, all the seconds of the left and right sides line up behind them and lean over as the wrestlers walk past. This is to show that these two wrestlers are very strong and have defeated many wrestlers; so it looks as if, when they strut, the strength of the wind is knocking the seconds down.

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Mongolian Wedding Traditions

Before the wedding, if the two families live far apart, they move closer together. One day before taking the bride, someone from the groom’s family goes to the bride’s house and makes arrangements for the wedding.

When welcoming a daughter-in-law, the groom’s side sends the wedding leader, an elderly person, the groom’s mother, a person who gives fermented mare’s milk to people, a person who holds the shot glass, two load-bearers, and the groom with his complete gun and quiver, with load-carrying camels to the bride’s house. They must enter the bride’s house before sunrise. At this time, the bride’s family has the bride enter their other ger, the bride’s father puts the bride’s baggage on the west side of the ger, and then people have a party in the ger. As soon as the bride’s family knows the groom’s side has come, they lock their door from inside. When those from the groom’s side come, push on the door, and say three times:

I came from a place far from the water
My mouth thirsted, my horse grew tired
Open your golden door and love

they open the door and invite them in.

After the people enter, greet, and drink tea, they speak blessings and give the bride’s side vodka, ceremonial scarves, and gifts. The groom greets his father- and mother-in-law with a ceremonial scarf. They have the son-in-law bow three times to his father-in-law’s hearth and give him a sleeveless jacket and belt to put on. They load the bride’s baggage on the camel. The bride’s mother and female relatives bring the bride into the house, have her bow to the fire and the idols, send her to the left side of the altar, have her kiss her father and mother and then drink tea, and put the bride on a horse. One person leads the horse the bride is riding in a clockwise circle around the house and sends it on. When the bride goes, she does not look back. It is believed that, if she looks, it is a sign of returning to her home, so it is taboo. They set up the groom’s ger on the east side of his father’s ger. The bride circles the ger clockwise and dismounts at sunrise. She tastes milk and enters the ger. She enters her ger, and then bows to her father- and mother-in-law and the rest of the people, and sits down. After the bride lights her fire and brews fresh tea, the singer of benedictions gives a blessing and the bride’s father ties a ceremonial scarf to the roof of the ger. Later, the bride’s side gives gifts to the son-in-law, and the groom’s side gives gifts to the daughter-in-law. The people eat, drink and celebrate. When evening comes, they move the celebration to the father’s ger, the women put the newly-married young people to bed, join up the pillows and pull the curtains of the bed. For three days after the wedding, the bride doesn’t have to do any work. After three days, they part the curtains of the bed, the daughter-in-law boils tea, causes the people to drink and celebrates.

Mongolian Birthdays

Mongolians have two kinds of birthdays: one for children and one for the elderly.

By Mongolian tradition, they count from the time when the child is conceived, and consider a newborn child as already one year old, which they call the “nominal age.” Traditionally, a child’s relatives and friends gathered a year later to celebrate the anniversary of his or her birth, but in modern times, people celebrate the child’s birthday every year.

At the child’s party, vodka is little used, and the birthday child invites many other children and entertains them with food and drink. At this time of ceremony, they seat the birthday child in the honored part of the house while they celebrate; they also have the tradition of blessing him or her.

When a male child turns five, they prepare a special saddle and give him a good horse. On the child’s birthday, they put the new saddle on the horse, and the father first mounts the horse, then dismounts and puts his son on the horse. The child then sprinkles the horse’s head and rump with fermented mare’s milk, and drinks the rest. The father
leads the horse by its reins around his corral three times clockwise and speaks blessings. He says that his son has reached five years of age and the time has come for him to ride a horse, by which he wishes him the blessing of becoming a good herdsman with much livestock.

According to Mongolian tradition, children, relatives and neighbors celebrate the 70th, 85th and 90th old age anniversaries. They celebrate these in summer time by preparing fermented mare’s milk and dairy products and holding a small festival with wrestling and horse racing. In modern times, the 50th and 60th birthdays are also celebrated. This not only marks the person’s old age, but also is a ceremony of marking the good fruitful work he has done for his country. There are two kinds of ceremonies for a person’s old age anniversary—official and ordinary. At the time of the old person’s birthday, people speak blessings and give mementos to that person.

A Sad Day

Our church is grieving the loss of a dear member today. Our former pastor Naraa announced today that she would be transitioning to a different church. Her husband has had some areas of disagreement with the current leadership and is no longer attending our church, and now Naraa feels that God is leading her to go to a different church with her husband. Although Naraa has been out of a leadership role in our congregation since last summer, she has continued to preach on a semi-regular basis. She also was the driving force behind several of our church plants and discipled a number of young women in the church. She will be greatly missed.

We had hoped to have some Mongolian friends over for dinner tonight, but they were unable to come. It may have been for the best anyhow, as Joel had a fever earlier today. He seems to be okay now, but Tiffany and the boys were unable to attend church today. So we enjoyed an online sermon from Eau Claire Wesleyan Church, and I went to Eternal Light alone.