Though largely abandoned during the Soviet era–or practiced underground–Tuva’s religions are a syncretic pastiche of local beliefs and foreign influence. In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, Tuvan religions emerge as a symbol of Tuvan cultural pride and a bridge to other Asian and ‘native’ cultures. Tuvan spiritual leaders’ religious performances contribute to Tuvan cultural life, while simultaneously offering visitors a window view into Tuvan values and social challenges.
Many Tuvans practice and believe in the life-ways provided by Tuvan shamans. Shamans serve Tuvan communities though enacting mythologies of ancient bonds between Tuvans and the Siberian environment. In shamanic worldviews, spirits inhabit animals, plants, wind patterns, waterways, and mountains. These spirits often influence the lives of practitioners and can be propitiated for help and counsel via a shaman, who contacts spirits during elaborate ceremonies.
Travelers curious to learn more about Tuvan shamanic practices will find welcome reception at the Tuvan Center for Shamanic Studies: an officially sponsored organization that trains shamans and awards graduates degrees of completion. The center offers travelers insight into shamanic practices, thought, and worldview, as well as arranges meetings between travelers and practicing shamans. In addition, TravelTuva offers clients the opportunity to visit shamanic sites–often set in mountain passes or at sacred springs–in order to further explore this unique religious practice.
Tibetan Buddhism entered the region currently known as Tuva over 300 years ago, but has increased in popularity among Tuvans in the years following 1991. Buddhist temples and stupas may be found in most Tuvan cities and rural towns, and local Tuvans utilize the structures as religious sites, occasionally mixing Buddhist and Shamanic belief systems at the same site. Those interested in Tibetan Buddhism as practiced in Tuva will find reception by the monks at the Buddhist temple in Tuva’s capitol, Kyzyl.
TravelTuva encourages our clients to visit Tuvan sacred sites and to meet with Tuvan religious practitioners to increase their understanding of Tuvan life. Please Contact Us to learn more about Tuvan religions, and to add an exploration of Tuvan religious practices to your TravelTuva itinerary.