The Buryats - A Shamanic Cult at Lake Baikal

Lenght: 43' HD

Year of production: 2012

Country of production: Germany

Author: Kay Siering

The Buryats
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In the vast wilderness around Lake Baikal reside a nomadic people: the Buryats. They live according to their own customs, and their everyday life is defined by shamanism and a strong sense of family. The Buryats lead their lives in harmony with powerful forces of nature: wide open steppes, majestic hills, dense forests and a vast body of water they call the “Holy Sea”: Lake Baikal. For hundreds of years its western bank has been home to the Buryat family clan, who travel across the land with their traditional yurts and their large herds of cows and horses. Shamanic rituals and a cult of ancestor worship are what define the lives of these nomads. For them, the natural world has a soul, while trees and rocks have a deep spiritual significance. The holiest place of all is the Shaman Rock on the island of Olchon. This is where the spiritual leaders pay homage to their faith once a year with a cult ritual. Further east, on the other side of Lake Baikal, is Ulan Ude. With 400,000 inhabitants, it is the largest city in the independent republic, and a third of its residents are Buryats. Shamanism is booming here as well: the town even has its own Shamanic clinic, which treats people using traditional medicine and spiritual ceremonies. The town, which - thanks to international trade and manufacturing - has seen an increase in employment, is undergoing a major upturn. The rapid growth of Ulan Ude is presenting the Buryats with the toughest challenge they have ever faced.