Kalmykia celebrated Zul holiday yesterday

Zul is one of the most important and favourite national holidays in Kalmykia. It is celebrated on the 25th of the 10th lunar month according to the lunar calendar. In 2020, Zul fell on December 10. It is customary for Kalmyks to celebrate Zul holiday in clean and new clothes. Therefore, on the eve of the holiday, you need to do a general house cleaning and wash dirty things.

Zul heralds a new year. And the New Year, according to legend, must be met without presence of anything dirty in the house, so that all the bad things that haunted you in the past year remain in the past like this dirt. According to tradition, on the eve of the holiday, Kalmyks cook bortsoki to fill the house with delicious smells of fried meat (konshun unr). In the evening of the same day, it is necessary to put a "deezh" (offering) in front of the icon, namely, bortsoki and sweets.

Early in the morning on the day of Zul holiday, the hostess of the house brews fragrant Kalmyk tea, without which not a single Kalmyk holiday can do, and, pouring the first bowl, puts a dejezh, lights a lamp and prays. And then the whole family sits down for breakfast. This breakfast is unusual, because it is a festive one. Everything should be in abundance on the table, because, according to the omen, what will be on the festive table on Zul holiday, will be on the tables the whole next year.

What did Kalmyks traditionally put on the festive table? Of course, traditional products, and first, butter, tea, meat, bortsoki and sweets. On Zul holiday, it is customary for Kalmyks to treat each other, invite guests to tea: relatives, neighbours and acquaintances. This is the tradition of the hospitable Kalmyk people. They do not go on a visit with empty hands, but bring gifts with them: sweets, bortsoki, nutmegs... Previously, animals were slaughtered in Zul and fresh meat was cooked
On the day of the holiday, you should certainly pay tribute to parents and just elderly people: generously treat them and give them gifts. Gifts can be inexpensive, such as candy, a pack of tea, a pack of butter, or nutmeg. If there is vodka on the table, then after opening it, you should sprinkle it into the fire (tsatsl tsatskh).
In the evening of the same day, a special ritual is performed: with the onset of darkness, when stars appear in the sky, an age lamp - the boat of life - is lit. The age lamp is made of dough in form of a boat. Bunches of wild rye or wheat stalk are stuck into this boat. Those are "tsagan oats". The number of the bunces should correspond to the number of members in the family. Each bunch should contain as many stalks of rye as the age of the person whose it represents.
After gently gathering rye stalks into a bunch with the upper part of the stem pointing upwards, one should carefully wrap the upper part of the bunch with a thin layer of cotton wool. In total, three layers are made. Then the top end of the bunch is soaked in ghee. All bundles should be prepared in advance so that they fit into the prepared boat without any problems.
When the boat of life is ready, this complex lamp must be lit and all family members must bow to the lamp (nasan avh) and say the words of the prayer: “Om - mani - padme - hum." If at the moment the lamp is lit, one of the family members is not at home, then one of the family members present should pray for him: father prays for his son and mother prays for her daughter. After this prayer, everyone is blessed with one more year of life in addition to the years they have lived.
After completing this ritual, you should proceed to another, which is traditionally performed by the mother of the family. To perform this ritual, a previously prepared small cylindrical lamp also made from dough is taken. It contains a bunch of rye grass, which is why the lamp is called "Yisnya gol". A woman should hold this lamp in her right hand and kneel her right knee in front of the front door and pray in this position until the lamp goes out (the lamp does not burn for long). With this very prayer, the mother asks God to bless her entire family, all the people. After the lamp goes out, you need to carefully remove a bunch of unburned grass from the dough, then fry the remaining dough in a pan and eat with your family.
This ritual dish cannot be given to strangers. Now, all the rituals for Zul holiday have been performed. Evening came: a time of fun. All are gathered in one of the wagons and celebrate a common birthday. The dombra rang, songs sung, amazing dances replaced one another. They were all beautifully dressed, each in a new outfit made especially for Zul or in an old favourite dress taken out of the chest for such a solemn day. And, of course, there were treats on the table, the most beloved and most delicious dishes from the Kalmyk national cuisine.