Inner Mongolian Obo Festival

Sacrificing for obo is an ancient Mongolian ritual. “Obo” is a heap of stones or wood piled up on top of mountain or in highlands.

Mongolians believe in Shamanism as well as Animism – that everything has a spiritual essence. Obo, as a marking of God, has been worshiped and respected by Mongols for thousands of years. Sacrifices to Obo are held annually, from the fourth to seventh lunar month.

Traditionally, Obo are built by stones, with a pole sticking out on the top. Cattle hair and scripture flags are tied in the head of the pole. Flat stones stand surrounded by burning joss sticks. Obo are usually full with branches and sacrificial offerings such as roast whole lamb, horse milk, butter and cheese.

During the ritual, Lamas ignite incense and recite scriptures. Mongols circle around Obo clockwise three times, saying “Hoo-ri! Hoo-ri!”; while sprinkling the pieces of milk products onto Obo. Recreational activities come along the ritual, like horse riding, wrestling and archery, which is called Obo Nadam.

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