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14 December 2006

A Republican-wide competition for students and children to re-awaken the tradition of Hazrin Ezn Master of the Steppe, Kalmykia, Russian Federation

Project Summary

The Kalymks are unique in Russia for following a traditional Buddhist culture whose roots and basis are compassion to all living things, and as such they have always understood the interrelation and interdependence of Nature and Humans. The Kalmyks have traditionally practiced Ovoo veneration ceremonies. This ritual worship involves offerings to the Masters' of Natural Sites'. Traditionally the elders of each clan conducted a competition to select the most ritually clean place where the Hazrin Ezn' could be found and offerings would then be made on days that were deemed to be astrologically favourable. Nowadays, on the steppes, the number of ritually clean places has been much reduced due to a lack of education and the loss of traditional practices during the years when religious practices and teachings were restricted.

As part of the ARC supported project, the Centre of Ecological Projects of the Republic of Kalmykia (a registered NGO) together with teachers and monks from the central Kalmykian Buddhist monastery Geden Shaddup Chup Choi Korving conducted a Republican-wide competition of creative visual and written works under motto «Hazrin Ezn Master of the Steppe».

The purpose of the competition was to attract the attention of general public (including monastic communities and people practicing Buddhism) to problems of nature conservation on the Kalmykian steppes, and the increasingly endangered species of plants and animals.

The competition was advertised widely in the Kalmykian press and attracted a response from children in primary and secondary schools. ARC's support was acknowledged in the media coverage.

The competition results were assessed by the Centre of Ecological Projects of the Republic of Kalmykia and by the teachers and monks of Geden Shaddup Chup Choi Korving monastery. The most interesting works were duly awarded, consecrated and presented to educational institutions.

ARC Grant received $1,646

Contacts: Dr. Anna Lushchekina,
Russian MAB Committee
13 Fersman Street
Moscow, 117312 Russia

Ms. Olga Obgenova
General Director of the Centre of ecological projects of the Republic of Kalmykia
36 Tchkalova Street

358000, Elista, the Republic of Kalmykia, Russian Federation
Phone: +7 847 22 58477, Fax: + 7 847 22 57582, e-mail:


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