Altai traditional festivals

Al-Oiyn

Oiyn in the Altai language means ‘a game, a competition, an entertainment, a joke’. Al-Oiyn is a festival of the Altai national games. The first festival was organized in 1988 in the village Yelo of the Ondugay area by the efforts of people. In 1990 the festival gained a republican status. Al-Oiyn is a moving festival, which includes competitions in national sports of the Altai people:
  • Tebek is juggling by both legs by turns with a tebek – a leather thing with a small plumbic ingot sewn to it.
  • Kamchy is an exercise with a lash that can be up to 3 meters long. A participant has to knock down special skittles, standing in a special order, with his lash.
  • Running of tongjaans is a competition for two people. Participants, playing by turns the roles of a rider and a horse, have to run a certain distance up the hill.
  • Amdik uredish is the horse-breaking of an untrained horse by a team of 3 people (the time is important).
  • Shatra is the ancient Altai table game - cornerwise - orthogonal checks.


Besides all mentioned above, the Altai people also take part in weight lifting, horseracing, archery competitions and their national fight ‘Kÿryosh’.


Chaga-Bayram

Chaga-Bayram, or the Altai New Year, is one of the traditions forgotten in the Soviet time but being actively restored now. It is celebrated by the lunar calendar at the end of February – beginning of March. The head men – the most respected men, who observed a special fast, at the crack of dawn begin saying prayers in which they ask for the life of happiness and prosperity for the Altai people. After that on a special altar they bring their gifts to the nature: syrchik (dried Altai cheese) and talkan -broken to pieces, roast barley. Then they attach the ribbons to the branches of the holy tree (the ribbons are called kyira). After the completion of all the rites a big festival begins. A lot of people take part in it, the sports competitions, tobogganing and other entertainment activities take place.

Dyilgayak

Dyilgayak is a festival of the vernal equinox. This originally pagan festival is in fact the same as maslenitsa in the Russian culture. During the festival people say good bye to winter and greet spring: there are merry fairs with singing and attractions, and certainly with the burning of a straw man.

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