The religious direction of tourism is a relatively new phenomenon, but it has been rapidly developing in recent years. The same can be said about religious tourism in Buryatia. This is facilitated by the desire of people for cultural and religious enrichment through familiarity with the values of various confessions. The spiritual component of human life is increasingly coming to the fore, forcing more and more people around the world to go on "religious" travel. This type of tourism should not be confused with pilgrimage, where deeply personal religious motives are put at the head, prompting a person to spiritual growth, purification, and communion with the shrines of a particular religion.
Buryatia is a unique place on the territory of Russia, where 3 such different religions as shamanism, Christianity and Lamaism coexist without interfering with each other. Each of these confessions found its niche in the religious life of Buryatia, having managed to preserve its foundations in the course of difficult historical upheavals. This would not have been possible without the participation of reliable followers and devoted believers, on whose shoulders many difficult trials fell.
Shamanism is the original belief of the indigenous population of this area. Its peculiarity is the spiritualization of nature and natural forces, the attachment of rituals to objects of nature, when in the course of special actions the harmony of the unity of man and the forces of earth, water, air, fire is achieved. Thus, the main places of worship and rituals were the natural objects of Lake Baikal and the territories adjacent to the lake - various mountains, river valleys, groves in forests, detached rocks, etc.
Shamans are a special class in the social hierarchy, and not everyone could be numbered among them. Combining a psychologist, skillfully manipulating consciousness, a healer, with the help of folk remedies conquering disease, narrator, transmitting ancient legends, the shaman had to have roots connecting him with the shamanic clan.
Rituals of shamanism could include sacrifices to totems in the form of animals, were strictly demarcated in their purpose and were a perfectly structured dramatic action (so-called rituals) that made a strong impression on all witnesses. Such performances could gather up to several thousand spectators, which was a kind of record among the religious practice of Buryatia.
Desperately defending its right to exist, shamanism, faced with the spread of Buddhism and Christianity in the area, was able to maintain its position. Currently, there is a surge of interest in the forgotten practices of this religion, which proclaims the triumph and supremacy of nature in human existence. Spiritual monuments inherited from shamanism are an important component that makes religious tours in Buryatia more than fascinating.
Christianity has passed a difficult path of recognition in Buryatia. Shamanism and actively spreading Buddhism, as well as the Old Believer religion professed by the migrants exiled here, in every possible way hampered the adoption of Christianity in this region. Perceived as the faith of the Russian part of the population, Christianity, through the efforts of not so numerous, but strong-minded preachers, nevertheless found its believers from among the local population.
At the end of the XVII century. the Embassy Monastery was founded - the main stronghold of the spread of Christianity here. The Church also welcomes such methods as exemption of the local population from the tax - yasak in exchange for converting to the Christian faith. At the beginning of the twentieth century. the number of Buryats professing Christianity numbered 85 thousand people. Everything created with such difficulty in the period before the 1917 revolution is destroyed by the Bolsheviks, many prominent figures of the Russian Orthodox Church are shot or become victims of the camps. Only after the end of the Second World War, it becomes possible to restore some parishes and churches. And only in 1994 the existence and activity of the Russian Orthodox Church was transferred to the status of those permitted by law.
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