Ulan Ude

Ulan Ude is a city with an diverse ethnic history. It identifies itself as being mainly Mongolian but is part of the Russian Federation. It’s proud of its Mongolian routes and down its Lenin (main) street pedestrian area are a series of statues reflecting this heritage.They have he Mongolian three flame showing past, present and future. One or two posts showing the people. Birds, horn and /or animals reflecting wealth. As this city was a trade route between China, Mongolia and Russia, its city was known for its buildings and wealth.Buildings were wooden and there were frequent fires. Regulations were brought in to ensure at least the base , and first floor were made from brick or stone in the main city area. Only a few of these original buildings are left. The people also imported fire fighting equipment and had the first fire station of the time. Traditional homes are log homes with rope cauking. They have beautiful carved decorations over the windows and eaves. Shutters are not seen as much in the city .
Republic of Buryatia also has its own unique language that is taught in schools as well as Russian and English. It has retained its own folklore and traditions but has also adopted some Russian traditions. They use the Russian form a writing. Buddhism, Shamanism , and the Kosaks in the north follow Islamism. Christianity is in the for of Russian Orthodox. At new year, people follow the Buddhist traditions of washing everyone and thing to remove the bad vibes from the year. They have a wind force tradition where your name is written in a pattern on a piece of fabric and your wishes added. These are hung to catch the wind so your wishes can be heard by the god of your belief.     
Lenin had a great influence in all parts of Russia. In this area there are statues of him. They have the largest bust of him that was cast in two pieces and brought by train.Modern feelings suggest that Lenin and Stalin are not revered as they were once but to remove Lenin statue would be to forget part of the history of the country.
Buryat people follow Mongolian sports of wrestling,archery, and horse racing.
At the largest Buddhist Monastery, there is a tree coming from a twig from the original Bodhi tree under which Buddha is believed to have received his enlightenment.It is from the 1600’s. One temple was allowed to be built in the Stalin period and since then more have been built within the area. There is one temple dedicated to the female Buddha, Tara. She is shown frequently as being green to reflect her links with all forms of nature. Her hand is usually down to show her readiness to help her ‘children’. Compared to other monasteries, those here and in Mongolia, there is peace but not the deep serenity and feeling of being at one with the communities they serve.
In a traditional village we ate soup and steamed dumplings followed by a dough dessert dipped in a sour jam . Our traditional Buryat toast was with moonshine made from rye bread, yeast and water.      It had a whisky taste.We learnt to play a game with knucklebones were it mimicked a horse race and depending on how the bones fell you moved your”horse”. These bones are also used to strengthen old people’s hands and to tell fortunes. We put up a yurt, dressed in costume ,learnt to use a bow and arrow and also to make dough candles from dough reeds and cotton. These are lit for Buddhist ceremonies.

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