Tag Archives: 2004 Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour

Soundscape 10: Ejel Gansam

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 23 August 2004. An esteemed lineage holder of Mongolian Long Song on her way to perform for those travelling on our tour in the luncheon ger erected near Eden Zuu Monastery built in 1586 in Övörkhangai Aimag Mongolia. Such performances, the creation of sociality, time and space in quasi-domestic ritual celebrations are integral and meaning-making for everyone involved in such sites, albeit fleeting. See ‘Creating sociality, time and space, pp169-210’ in Carole Pegg’s beautiful book, Mongolian Music, Dance and Oral Narrative: Performing Diverse Identities (University of Washington Press, 2001). Photo: C.Pleteshner

How do we reinvigorate and make more personal a beautiful musical composition, when just listening to the original is so deeply evocative of one’s own long journeys to caravanserais* past?

Whilst the outflow of a musical arrangement for piano of other Mongolian songs has been easier for me to manifest, this one has certainly taken its time! However, early one morning whilst improvising on the piano, I mistakenly shifted from common time to waltz time. Et voila! Ideas began to flow from there.

Mongolian Backstory 

Approaching Chingghis Khan International Airport, Ulaanbaatar (now the anglicised Ulan Bator) Mongolia. 20 August 2004. Photo: C.Pleteshner

Never gossip about people not here

Never poke fun at those who may be suffering

Never just dismiss a country’s treasures

Never disrespect the heart-beliefs of others

(ZDR 2 August 2023) 

There have been a number of pivotal “for the first time/s …” in my small life’s journey. The following is an example of one of them. In August 2004, Mongolian Guru Deva Rinpoche (Honorary Consulate of Mongolia in Nepal) and Tibetan Lama Ganchen Rinpoche (World Peace Foundation, a United Nations NGO) organised for the first time in post-soviet socialist Mongolia, an exhibition-tour of sacred Buddhist relics from Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka starting at the State Academic Theatre of Drama and Ballet (now the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet) in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The accompanying International entourage was multi-denominational and multi-cultural.

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 24 August 2004. Ven. Tibetan Lama Ganchen Rinpoche, British, Brazilian, Thai, Sri Lankan, Greek and Mongolian prelates as well as Italian paparazzi at the Mongolian National State Opera and Ballet Theatre in Ulan Bator. The relics tour to Mongolia to promote peaceful co-existance and mutual respect was a big cultural event in early post-soviet socialist Mongolians-in-Mongolia life, a time when such international visitors were still few and far between. So many Mongolian people were suffering due to Mongolia’s impoverished economic situation at the time. Such big crowds and turbulent intensity. Such a long day … Photo: C.Pleteshner

Where there is encounter, transformation ensues. (Ganchen NgalSo)

This was my first visit to Mongolia. I was invited to attend the official ceremonies and the whirlwind tour across the vast Mongolian steppe that followed. In many respects, this is where my now longitudinal and participative study of Mongolian gelug buddhism and Mongolian culture began.

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 21 August 2004. Photo: C.Pleteshner

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 21 August 2004. Composite image of official invitation from Mongolian Guru Deva Rinpoche (Tsetan Gyurman Shrestha) and Tibetan Lama Ganchen Rinpoche. Photo: C.Pleteshner

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 26 August 2004. The young Mongolian Zava Damdin Rinpoche (1976- ) taking receipt of the precious relics as Mongolian Guru Deva Rinpoche’s primary lineage holder and custodial representative. Amarbayasgalant Monastery, Selenge Aimag Mongolia. Photo C.Pleteshner

In memory of TYS Gangchen Tulku Rinpoche (1941-2020).

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 26 August 2004. Ven. Tibetan Lama Ganchen Rinpoche, preparing to lead a ritual ceremony from Mongolian Guru Deva Rinpoche’s traditional intricately-carved wooden throne draped with silk brocade. Central Public Ritual Hall, Amarbayasgalant Monastery Selenge Aimag Mongolia, a 340kms drive north west of Ulan Bator. Photo: C.Pleteshner

More Background Notes

*Most of us are familiar with caravanserais: hosted stops along trade routes such as the two ancient Silk Roads. In today’s Mongolia, scattered in the four cardinal directions across the vast steppe far away from turbulent UB, these important location-specific social hubs continue to materialise; purposefully, and at times spontaneously manifesting, to serve a range of important catalytic, ameliorating, social, cultural and transient economic functions.

Whilst this photo-journalist-style essay draws from my 2004 archive, over the past two decades I have observed how such events continue to provide a locale for the exchange of goods, ideas and culture/s between generous Mongolian-in-Mongolia hosts, their international invited guests and serendipitous others. The journey continues …

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 27 August 2004. CP with Mongolian lams (monks) and visiting parents in the temporary visitors’ ger set up next to Amarbayasgalant Monastery situated among lush mountains on the Seleng River which flows into Lake Baikal.

Mongolian United Nations Buddhist Relics Tour 22 August 2004. On the road to Karakorum (the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire dating from 1220 AD) a 370km drive south west of Ulan Bator. Photo: C.Pleteshner

Let’s Return to the Music!

From the Mongolian Ejel Gansam translates as Song for the Long Awaited Friend. Originally by Mongolian-Buryat Shono Band (Honkoroi Vol.2 Compilation of Siberian World Music (2016, Yurta Music), members include Alexander Arkhincheev’s throat singing vocals, moriin khuur, tsoor, sukha and huur; Evguenia Tomitova on yataga; Konstatin Tokarsky on drums and Vladimir Sidorov on vocals bass guitar and vargan. 🎧 Original (2016): https://open.spotify.com/track/4g4OUiNuOBxsHAucLrn5V1?si=1a984d38fe504aad

CP’s cover version

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© 2013-2024. CP in Mongolia. This post is licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions.   Posted: 2 August 2023. Last updated: 16 October 2023.