Russian shamans elect a supreme leader: 'Now Moscow must recognize us'
In a historic first, exponents of traditional Siberian religion gather in Congress to elect a Supreme Shaman: Kara-Ool Dopchun-Ool. The adherents of the animist tradition do not want funds from the state and do not ask to erect places of worship. They promise battle against imposters who cheat people.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Russia's shamans plan to join a single organization, and obtain state recognition as a "fifth traditional religion". Russian shaman Artur Tsybikov declared this at a press conference held at the Interfax agency in Irkutsk (Siberia) on June 19. In fact, in the preamble of the Russian law on religious freedom, in force since 1997, it is written that there are four traditional religions: Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.
Tsybikov announced that "an open letter has been prepared to the address of the President of the Russian Federation and the Federation Council, with the request to examine the matter. We will send it to Moscow in the next few days ". He stated that the letter was written after the first ballots in the history of Russia of the Supreme Shaman in the country; in June a citizen of the Tuva region was elected (in central Siberia, where the Turks-Mongols or Urianhaj live), Kara-Ool Dopchun-Ool. The Congress - called the "Spirit of the Bear" - was held in Tuva from June 8 to 10, and the results of the voting among the shamans was almost unanimous (115 votes out of 116).
The shamans are not asking for access to state funding for the support of culture and religion (90% of which goes to the Orthodox Church). According to Tsybikov, shamanism does not need churches and structures, because "it is based on the presence of spiritual forces. For example, one of our places of worship is the Gulf of Burkhan on the island of Olkhon, in Lake Baikal, where no church can be built. We also do not want to bother people in the cities, with the celebration of our rites; shamanism is an aid to people. We will make our shamanic centers, separated from everything ".
According to their adherents, the shamanic religion is already be widespread in Russia, even if many of its followers do not want to be registered. According to Tsybikov, their registration would act as a deterrent to the many scammers who sell themselves as shamans, by distinguishing them from the official ones. "We will open a site where everyone can receive full information about each individual shaman," said the spokesperson.
On June 20 the newly-elected Supreme Shaman Dopchun-Ool gave an interview with NG-Religija in which he recalled the great historical importance of shamanism, a religion present in many ancient cultures with the Magi, the Baksy and the Khamy , and many other names to indicate healers, fortune tellers, seers. The head of the Russian shamans says that "the shamans need a leader, to start a real dialogue between the traditions of different peoples".
The Congress decided to form a council of 9 members to support the Supreme Shaman, also in order to clarify the "doctrinal" contents of shamanism, which unlike the various forms of magic would be, according to its adherents, "a true religion , submissive to the deity or spirits "with appropriate liturgies, so the shamans would have" a true priestly function ".
The June Congress was officially visited and supported by the president of the Autonomous Republic of Tuva, Sholban Kara-Ool, who recalled that "the tuvans are very attached to their ancient traditions. We are used to living on the street, like our Mongolian ancestors. The nomads retain a special place in the soul for the spirits of the earth, above all we have a great devotion to the springs. The shamanistic sacraments are the force that holds our people together ".
It is not the first time that Russian neo-pagan groups have attempted to officially register, as had happened some years ago with the Buriat shamans of Jakuzia, in the most extreme Siberia. In times of severe reduction of the religious freedom of organizations less liked by "state" Orthodoxy, the local cults of the Asian regions are actually finding new opportunities to be accepted on an official level. They can claim an ethnic-traditional character, unlike Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Pentecostals or Scientology, who cannot escape the infamous epithet of destructive "sects". But this would also make Orthodox Christianity more similar to Asian shamanism than to an evangelical religion.