The Khalka Mongol of Mongolia
In the thirteenth century, Genghis Khan formed one of the greatest empires in world history by uniting all of the nomadic Mongol tribes. During the centuries that followed, the once mighty Mongol empire was squeezed between the growing Russian and Chinese empires. In the early 1920's, Mongolia became a Marxist state, until its quiet democratic revolution in 1990. Today, Mongolia's government leaders are Khalkha Mongol.
The Khalkha Mongol consider their language, Halh, to be the "real" Mongolian language, since all other Mongols speak variations or dialects of Halh. Halh is understood throughout Mongolia and by Mongols living in North and Central Asia.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Some of the Khalkha Mongol are now settled farmers who live and work on the "collective" (community) farms. The urban Khalkha Mongol generally live in Soviet-built apartment complexes. Many of them have found jobs in industry, mining, or transport.
Due to the harshness of the climate in Mongolia, the Khalkha Mongol diet consists primarily of fat, meat (mainly mutton), milk, and dairy products. Large amounts of fat and mutton are eaten during the winter, and dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and sour cream are eaten during the summer. Their favorite drink is airag or kumiss, which is fermented mare's milk.
The Khalkha Mongol traditionally married while they were very young. The girls were usually 13 or 14, and the boys were only a few years older. Today, couples usually marry while they are in their early to mid-twenties, then immediately begin having children. Urban Khalkha Mongol, especially those with a college education, tend to delay marriage until they reach their late twenties. Birth control is discouraged in Mongolia. Families with six or more children are given financial benefits.
The Khalkha Mongol love music, folk dances, chess, and sporting events. Every July, the ancient Naadam festival is celebrated throughout Mongolia. Sporting events are held in horse racing, archery, and wrestling.
What Are Their Beliefs?
In the late 1500's, the Mongols were introduced to Tibetan Buddhism, and most Mongols converted to Buddhism at that time. By 1900, 60% of Mongolia's males were serving as priests in Buddhist monasteries. However, as a result of an anti-religious movement launched by the Marxist government in the 1930's, about 75% of the Khalkha Mongol became either non-religious or atheists.
Today, a number of Khalkha Mongol have returned to the beliefs of their forefathers. Shamans are once again called upon to cure the sick or alleviate evil spirits through divination, oracles, and astrology. A combination of Buddhism and shamanism has survived, especially among the elderly. Obos, heaps of stones thought to be inhabited by local spirits, can still be seen on almost every hilltop.
What Are Their Needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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