Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (BIRTH)

Created: 2014-09-11 16:05
Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
Description: Birth related rituals consist of three stages: pre-birth (conception and pregnancy), the birth itself and post-birth rituals. Pre-birth rituals are performed as a way of asking the gods to grant the prospective parents children and in ensuring a healthy pregnancy for the mother. During pregnancy women are subjected to a host of restrictions, both symbolic and dietary. For example, in order to prevent the unborn child from becoming entangled in the umbilical cord, pregnant women are told not to step over a rope. Also, the meat of 'ugly' animals such as the rabbit and camel should be excluded from the expectant mother's diet if she wishes to avoid having an ugly child. To avert the evil eye, a baby's clothes should not be bought prior to its birth.
The actual birth of the baby is marked by a series of rituals performed to ensure a successful birth and make the adaptation of the new-born to its new environment easy. For example, the tool used in cutting the umbilical cord must be cleansed by fire, and salt with the addition of a few pebbles must be added to the water for the baby’s first bath. The giving of gifts to the midwife is also part of the birth ritual. A ritual to 'introduce the baby to its craddle' (olgyad orulh) is also performed at this stage.
Post-birth rituals are performed to denote acceptance of the new-born child into its family and society. The ritual of name-giving (ner oglgn), inviting relatives to the parents' house to view the new-born (gert orulh), the ritual of 'making the baby walk' (tusha taslh), the ritual of the first hair cut (dyah avh), and other rituals should be performed soon after the birth of the child or in early childhood. The name-giving ritual includes a celebration called melyalgen during which the newly named baby is given presents by the guests. During the celebration close relatives usually give the baby one of the following animals as a present: a horse, a sheep, a cow or a camel.

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Alena Lidzhieva, Rituals Connected with the Birth of a Child


Interviewer: What rituals do we perform when a child is born? Do we have such rituals?
Alena: Yes, we do.
I: How is a new-born received, how is the umbilical cord cut, how is a...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (BIRTH)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Fri 12 Jun 2015

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