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The Inner Mongolia Aobao Worship Ceremony


 
 When you stride along the grassland in Inner Mongolia, you will notice piles of stones perched with willow branches which are decorated with colorful ribbons. With square bases, round domes, colorful banners and erected poles, they vary in size and number. Most of them stand alone, and in some cases, they come in clusters with odd numbers, such as seven or thirteen, with the center one as the biggest. Inside of them, there are grains, arrows, bows or even Buddha statues.
 
 
aobao worship ceremony
 

 

Be careful not to touch or trample on them, for they are holy altars called Aobao, and the famous Aobao Worship Ceremony (Ji Ao Bao, 祭敖包), the grandest worship ceremony of the Mongolian, just like Miao people’s Guzang Festival, will occur around them.

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

 

Before Tibetan Buddism making it way to Inner Mongolia, shamanism, an ancient religion which preaches everything in nature is imbued with magic property and is ruled by one specific god, dominates as the nomads’s national belief. In Mongols' eye, those awe-inspiring mountains briming the boundless grassland are the abodes of deities and roads to paradise. Since they are so few here, the Monglian erect mounds as substitutes, through which, they pay homage to heaven and earth, for prosperity and peaceful life.

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

 

Serving as road signs and boundary marks initially, Aobao evolved into the deity worship avenue gradually. In the end, it becomes the protection god of each clan. Mongolians sharing the same family name will establish its own Aobao. Rumors have it that whenever Genghis Khan launched an expediton, the top priority was to worship solemnly in front of Aobao prior to his expedition. Aobao is to the Mongolian just like Mani stones is to the Tibetans. Whenever a Mongolian passes a Aobao, he or she will stop to pray, add a new stone unto it or give some offerings. 

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

Aobao Worship Ceremony often occurs from May to August, when the grassland is carpeted with lush grass and interweaved with dazzling wild blossoms, and the one staged in Xilingol each year is the best-preserved and most representative one. The smallest one will be hold in one banner or league, the biggest one will draw tens of thousands of people. Aobao Worship Ceremony is also the forerunner of the renowned Naadam Festival.

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

During Aobao Worship Ceremony, herdsmen from far-flung settlements will congregate at settled Aobao through horses, motorcycles, tractors or cars. Whole Roast Lamp, Milk Wine, butter, cheese, Milk Skin and yogurt make regular sacrifice offerings.

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

 

At first, the Mongolia will offer Hadas, Milk Wine and cheese, then a Lama will chant the sutras in a stately voice and carry out rituals, which is an prominent part of this ceremony. After that, the Mongolian will circle the Aobao for three times, praying for forture and logevity. Aobao will receive a facelife also, with banners repleshied and new stoned added. After that, it is time to indugle in eating, drinking and entertaiment. The Mongolian will drink the Mare Milk Wine, eat mutton and chat happily. Aobao Worship Ceremony is also festooned with horce racing, wrestling and archery contest, just like Naadam Festival, though minor in scale. Young people usually seeks the opportunity to find their sweet hearts.

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

 

Aobao Worship Ceremony falls into four categories: Blood Worship, Wine Worship, Fire Worsip and Jade Worship.

 

Blood Worship: the Mongolian hold it that all the livehood are presents from gods, hence, the newly slaughtered horses or lamp are sacrificed in front of Aobao to return their favor.

 

Wine Worship: this ceremony sees Milk Wine, butter, fresh milk Mare Milk Wine poured into the altar. These intoxicating national beverages are lavished to please gods.

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

 

Fire Worship: whispering their family names, the Mongolian usually throw well-cooked beef or mutton meat balls into the bonfire, cherishing a hope to dispel all the evil forces through this way

 

aobao worship ceremony
 

 

 

Jade Worship: During the past, jade was used as offering by the Mongolian nobles. Nowadays, cheaper substitues like coins, fired rice and pearls are applied to save cost. 

 

 Aobao Worship Ceremony is very fun to observe, during your stay in Inner Mongolia, do not miss this inviting activity.

 

 

aobao worship ceremony
aobao worship ceremony
aobao worship ceremony
 

 



 

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