INTERDISCIPLINARY SYMPOSIUM: “TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS PRACTICES IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD (RUSSIA AND CENTRAL ASIA)”, IN MEMORY OF B.N. BASILOV, DOCTOR OF SCIENCES

From June 27-30, 2012, the second part of the scientific and interdisciplinary symposium, “traditional religious practices in the contemporary world (Russia and Central Asia), in the memory of B.N. Basilov, doctor of sciences”, was held in Cholpon-Ata. The first part of the Symposium was held in Moscow from June 23-26 of this year.
The Symposium was organized by the Institute for Ethnology and Anthropology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic, the American University of Central Asia, and the Cultural Research Center Aigine.

The symposium was divided into four sections:

  1. “Manas” and the epic heritage of the nations of the world
  2. Shamanic practices and traditional healing in the modern world
  3. The Cult of Saints and religious life in the nations of Central Eurasia
  4. Present epics and contemporary storytellers

The symposium was attended by over 40 scientists, holders of traditional practice and practitioners from the CIS countries Italy, France, Australia, Germany, USA, Japan and Guatemala.

%;font-family:”Times New Roman”,”serif”‘>As for the aspects of mutual understanding, questions were raised about the role and place of women in the preservation and transmission of epic heritage, on the criteria of determining the “correct” or “incorrect” emerging versions of the epics.

The spiritual aspect was an integral part of this section. The seminar in Issyk-Kul also began with the origins of the ritual reproduction of the Manas epic. According to oral records and scientific research, Manas began to lament. A battle drum, a komuz, and a koshokchu, or mourner, together with five manaschys, were able to recreate the morning on the lakeshore, marking the beginning of the tragic legend that became known as the great epic of the Kyrgyz people. Representatives from different cultures performed their people’s traditional rituals: the meeting of the sun, the salutation to the lakes, a sacred fire ritual, the remembrance of the dead, and the receiving of the gospel. The manaschys clearly demonstrated and commented on the traditional forms of struggle that were preserved in the epic.

The intense work of the seminar is represented in the following results. An initiative group was formed, consisting of storytellers, practitioners and scholars who are willing to cooperate for the purpose of recreating various aspects and connections of Pan-Turkic epics, and, in the long run, also epics from other nations of the world. The storytellers emphasized the need for regular meetings, even focused workshops and training sessions for the various carriers of the epics, in order to allow mutual exchange of spiritual and professional training. Participants also noted the need for trans-boundary tours to familiarize the people not only with the epic of their people, but also with the legacy of neighboring and distant peoples. Further, as part of the results, the possibility of combining academic papers and life stories of storytellers and carriers became evident. On the basis of this combination, an efficient and live interaction platform of practitioners and theorists was established.