Traditional Buryats' hospitality | Hidden Siberia

Traditional Buryats’ hospitality

Traditional Buryats` hospitality is not just a manifestation of behavior standards and morale but this is also a common feature of the national character which has been forming during many ages.

From the very young age Buryats taught their children strict ethic norms and principles and rules of behavior both in family and society. They raised kids respect towards parents and older generation, taught them to stand up and greet elder people when they enter house. As for kids, it was considered rude to speak loud in presence of mature people, interrupt someone's talk, hold hands on the back of the head or cross them on the chest, sit while stretching out legs towards older people.

On the example of their parents kids learned traditional Buryats' hospitality. Any stranger regardless of his nationality and religion was greeted with a great hospitality and offered shelter and food. It was some kind of a ritual and both sides had to follow its strict rules of behavior. 

When the host who was waiting for a guest heard that somebody drove up to the yurt (traditional house) he usually walked out to meet the guest and help him to dismount and tie his horse to the hitching post. The guest, especially if he's a stranger, had to show his peaceful and good will to the host – he takes his weapons off and leaves it outside of the yurt.

Guests were the first to enter the yurt and they were provided with seats at the hearth on the following principle: women are sitting on the left side and men are sitting on the right side, the honorable guests were offered a seat at the northern part of the house which was opposite to the entrance.

After every guest has taken his or her seat they were offered tea with milk and only then people may start to talk about business. Honorable guests were also treated with the best national dishes.

Giving and taking anything to/from other people was allowed only either with both hands or only with your right hand which was considered as 'hand of grace'.

When visitors are ready to leave here comes another tradition – host offers presents to his guests. And once again, there are some strict rules during this process. The host and the guest must stand against each other wearing their hats and the present is covered in silk scarf (usually blue) and its ends are directed at the guest. Violating this tradition was not allowed as its symbolic meaning was considered as crucial.

One more important thing is that paying the host for his hospitality with money was seen as an offence and that's why guests gifted milk and sweet products along with other possible presents in order to show respect towards the host and his home.

Also it should be noted that those families that are never visited by guests were unwelcomed by Buryats. One of the most popular wishes on Buryat weddings was "Let there be many guests in your home and many horses at your hitching post".

So, this is how traditional Buryats' hospitality looked like. But as for nowadays, if you are invited to modern Buryat house you may stay confident about your good stay there as the host will offer you traditional food like boozes (big meat dumpings), home-made noodles called shuule, sweet twiglets bova, tea with milk and the last but not the least is care.

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