Sometimes it is called Tengrism and needless to say that many Mongolians are very spiritual. Before Buddhism in Mongolia, shamanism was very strong among the Mongols. Today, there is a number that 20000 shamans live in Mongolia. Some people follow that number, some people are very skeptical towards this. Mongol tribes have long believed in the spirit world as their shamans described to the people. In Mongolian shamanism is called “Buu murgul”, shaman man is called “Buu”, while shaman woman is called “Udgan”. Many people in Mongolia believe that shamans have healing power. If the powers become apparent after a sudden period of sickness and apparitions.

            From the religious point of view shamanism is difficult to consider as a religion and it has been a very controversial topic among the people For example: every other religion has a sacred book. Christianity has Bible, Islam has Quran, Judaism has Torah. But shamanism does not have any sacred book. Every other religion has a founder: Islam was found by Mohammed, Christianity was founded by Jesus. But no one knows who found the shamanism. Shamanism is more of a spiritual ritual.

It is not just the Mongols that worship shamanism, the Central Asian tribes with Turkic origin and also the minorities in Russia such as Siberian tribes also follow shamanism. From outside they all might look the same, but in reality there are differences. Some people try to compare shamanism in Central Asia with African voodoo or Native American shamanism. In Mongolia, shamans worship trees which are struck by lightning. To them, it is a sacred tree, which they are able to connect through it with spirits of their elders. But for the Native American shamans, tree, which is struck by lightning is a cursed thing. They prefer to stay away from it.

            Let’s venture into the history of shamanism in Mongolia. Historians believe that shamanism began roughly 5000 years ago. At first, humans contacted with land, rocks by knocking it by staff-like trees. This was the first attempt to contact with the spirits in the nature as well as with their ancestors. Then after many thousand years, shamans started using musical instrument called “aman khuur” to call and contact with the spirits. Then sometime around 6th century shamans used drums to make contact with the ancient spirits. All this, of course, took long time to evolve. In 13th century, during the reign of the Great Khan, there were too many shamans around. Genghis khan pretty much dealt with them by killing his main shaman Dev Tengri because he was interfering with the political matter too much. Genghis khan made it very clear that religious matter and politics stay separate and this was a smart thing to do.

            In the 14th century, Buddhism became rampant in Mongolia. Therefore, shamanism was pushed to the north. Today, Buddhism is the official religion of the country but they peacefully coexist with the shamans. One in a while, there are some altercations but generally shamans and Buddhist get along very well. There is even a statistics that number of shamanist are increasing in Mongolia, especially after the change of regime in 1990.

            While you are traveling in Mongolia, be sure to visit a shaman. But the deal is that you should find the real shaman because there are fake shamans and they might take the advantage of the people’s lack of knowledge. For locals, it is easy to distinguish between the real one and fake one. In this, your tour company or your tour guide will be most helpful. When you visit a shaman be sure to be respectful to them. If you want to take pictures, please ask them first because for some of them picture can be quite sensitive. In generally, visiting a shaman and having a discussion with him is an interesting experience, where you will have a chance to glimpse into Mongolian traditional beliefs.