Is Russia is a culturally diverse country?
Welcome to the new edition of Matryoshka’s diary. Want to experience Russia and its diverse culture? Have you always been curious to find out if Russian are religious? This week our author Elena will take you on a virtual journey of the country and its religious and cultural gems.
- While over 70% of Russians consider themselves to be Russian Orthodox Christians, there are also 25 million Muslims, around 1.5 million Buddhists, and over 179,000 Jewish people.
- Russia adopted Christianity in the 10th century, until then it was pagan.
- 11 centuries later, pagan beliefs are still present and, in some ways, they are still part of our culture – Maslenitsa is one example.
- In Soviet Russia, all religion was banned.
What regions to visit if you are looking for a religious diversity?
Buddhism prevails among large numbers of Altai, Khakass, and Tyvans. Buddhism is also common among the Mongolian-speaking Buryat and Kalmyk.
It is no secret, that Jews, unfortunately, long suffered discrimination, and Russia was not an exception. It is not commonly known that in the 1930s Stalin established the Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR or Еврейская Автономная область in Russian) in the Soviet Far East as a Jewish province. Beginning with Gorbachev’s reformist policies in the 1980s, Jewish emigration to Israel and elsewhere was permitted on an increasing scale, and the number of Jews living in Russia (and all parts of the former Soviet Union) has decreased. Growing up in the Far East, I went to the JAR as a child and I was fascinated by the diversity of the capital city of the region – Birobidzhan – and its Jewish and Yiddish culture.
If you want to experience Islamic culture in Russia, there are many regions where Muslims form a majority of the population: the republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan (the Volga Federal District), and predominate among the nationalities in the North Caucasian Federal District located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea the Circassians, Balkars, Chechens, Ingush, Kabardin, Karachay, and numerous Dagestani peoples.
Temple of all religions in Kazan
It is a special place where many religions, cultures, and traditions come together. The temple celebrates the religious diversity and also serves as a cultural center and a residence for Khanov’s brother and sister, who are the founders of this unique project. The structure is not an active temple of any religion, but rather, as Khanov described its mission, a “temple of culture and truth”. It has become a popular landmark in the city of Kazan, which takes pride in the peaceful combination of different cultures.
Indigenous Russia and religion
The religion of indigenous people of Russia (Nenets and Evenks are some examples) is strongly connected with nature. They practice animism means that non-human entities, such as plants or animals, possess a spiritual essence as well as the natural phenomenon, such as sun, moon, stars, water and fire. They believe that each plant or animal has a soul. The ancestral cult is also an essential part of their religion. The belief that worshipping these spirits – spirits of their ancestors, spirits of animals and plants, earth – water spirits – will help them solve their problems. A shaman is a person who has access to spirits and an influence in their world. They practice rituals with ritual dances and drum sounds in the ecstasy state thanks to intoxicating herbs. Thanks to their knowledge of herbs as a cure, shamans were also respected healers of illness and diseases.
We hope that you enjoyed our virtual journey and are now making some plans to #ExploreRussiaLater.
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