Return of State-supported Buddhist Rituals to Modern Mongolia
(62nd Meeting Friedensau, 2019)
After the conversion of the Mongolian tribes to the lamaist form of Buddhism in the late 16th century, Mongolian princes and later their Manchu Qing imperial rulers were active sponsors of the Buddhist establishment and its annual grand rituals. This tradition was destroyed by the communist authorities in the 20th century, but has seen a state-sponsored renaissance in the democratic era, especially in the 21st century. The Mongolian lamaist connection was viewed by secular government officials as an important element of building popular nationalist sentiments and resurrecting Mongolia’s specific nomadic heritage. This paper will examine the return to Mongolian government-sponsored grand Buddhist related rituals and practices, which are symbols of national identity as well as important for the tourist-based economy. Particular focus will be placed on the Danshig festival or Danshug Naadam, which is related to the enthronement ceremony for His Holiness Zanabazar (1635 – 1722), the spiritual head of Mongolian Buddhism, and the rise of Maidar Eco-city in Tov aimag.