Monday, 26 June 2017

Sacred Ovoo's of Mongolia

Story & photos by Joanne Coughlan - Blue Dot Travel

According to Wiktionary an Ovoo is a shamanistic cairn (pile of rocks) found in Mongolia, usually made from rocks or wood and found on or around mountains.  These large piles of rocks are found on mountain passes, many are just built as markers for distances but most are repositories of offerings for local spirits. 

Upon arriving at an Ovoo, a Mongolian must stop and walk around them clockwise three times, and make an offering.  This offering can be money, lollies, strands from a horses tail, blue skarf (khadag) or another rock would also suffice, and make a wish. The khadag is blue because this is the most sacred colour in Mongolian culture, representing the eternal blue sky. Mongolia is also known as the Land of Blue Heaven.  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 you come across an Ovoo you should show gratitude and respect, and to honour the spirits of the surrounding land.  Most of the Mongolian people are Buddhist. But the old ways are still among them as you can see in their festivals and customs.

When you visit Mongolia, make sure you circle an Ovoo and leave a khadag to fly in the wind - it's a delightful custom and you will leave a little of yourself in the magnificent country that is Mongolia. 

Blue Dot Travel have their first of two Mongolia tours on 1 July 2018 which includes travelling on the Trans Mongolian Railway from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital - Click here for details.   Our second tour is scheduled just one week later on 7 July 2018 this includes a trip north, close to the Russian border to Lake Hovsgol home of the nomadic reindeer herders.  Click here for details.  Both trips will include a regional Naadam festival. 

Mongolia Map
Ovoo at the Flaming Cliffs in Southern Gobi
Flaming Cliffs in Southern Gobi

Brod Brennan Blue Dot Travel in the Yol Valley with an Ovoo in background

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