Accepted Paper:

Modification of Udmurt traditional rituals and its reasons  


Tatiana Minniyakhmetova (University of Innsbruck)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the rites of commemoration as an important part of the ritual life and the calendar of the Udmurts. The customs are performed at the beginning of the "winter year". This practice is being modified and "globalised" nowadays, the reasons for that are scrutinised in the paper.

Paper long abstract:

In Udmurtia, the cult of the deceased and the related customs have been preserved in a very archaic form. The paper discusses the commemorative rites, which are the main obligations of the descendants and as such dominate in the spiritual life of the Udmurts. The ritual complexes are included in the ritual calendar and usually take place at the beginning of the "winter year".

According to the tradition, in autumn, in the liminal period, the commemoration for the dead ancestors will be given, and three years after the parents' death or even later, their children should perform a thank-offering ritual.

Nowadays when the members of the family live far from their home, the preparation for as well as the very act of commemoration is complicated. Initially people who are not relatives of the deceased were not allowed to participate in this ritual. Nowadays this regulation has changed and occasionally people from the outside can take part in it. Colleagues and friends send presents and offerings to the family and express their good wishes for the deceased. The date of those events does not contemporize with the liminal period anymore; in the Soviet time, it was adopted for the October revolution day, since people had holidays and could come home and celebrate this fest. This innovation provokes discussions among the adherents of the traditional culture. The major concern is that these modifications can gradually eradicate such an important part of the Udmurt world-view and ritual life.

Panel P34
The institutions and practices of nation building of Finno-Ugric minorities in Soviet and post-Soviet settings