HOW MONGOLIANS GREET ONE ANOTHER

The Mongolians have unique traditions of greeting one another, traditions that are replete with poetic symbolism and deep meaning, and which express wishes for the good health and happiness of all.

If a traveler drops into the ger of a cattle-breeder, he enters with a smile for all those present in the ger. To the question of “How do you fare?” (Ta amarkhan sain baina uu?). His reply is “ Fine, and how do you fare?”. ( Sain bainaa, Ta amarkhan sain baina uu?) . The traveler answers “ Fine” (Sain).

Tradition obliges people to inquire after the state of theherd first. Then the host asks“ And where have you come from? Where are you bound for?” ( Het nutag khaana ve?, Khereg zorig yund ve?). The visitor replies in detail. In this way they become acquainted.

The Mongolians also have “seasonal” greetings which are used depending on the time of the year, and which are associated with the peculiarities of the cattle breeders activities. In summer and autumn, the people inquire of one another how the cattle have fattened, and in winter and spring, how the cattle have weathered the winter and spring.images

Particularly interesting are the New Year’s greetings. The youngest greets elders and offers them a khadag ( a strip of blue silk fabric folded over several times, a symbol of friendship and respect). As the elder accepts the khadag with his bent arms extending in front of him, the younger person supports the elder’s arms by putting his arms underneath and against the elders arms as sign of respect. Then they sit down, exchange snuff boxes (the lids are slightly open), and inquire after each other’s health. When cattle breeders mark Tsagaansar (Lunar New Year), they greet one another with the old quatrain:
The old year’s gone, The new year’s come, How have the colts and calves? Stood the winter mounth?(Khuuchin on ulirch Shine on shiljikhed .Daaga dalantai byaruu bulchintai Ond mend orovuu? Uvliig untei davavuu?)
There are also a great many “ work related” greetings, expressing wishes for successful labor. For instance, if a man is milking a cow, he is told “ May the milk yield be plentiful, and your pail full. May your” herd grow bigger”.

( Idee tsagaa delgerch, mal sureg olon boltugai). If a person is writing, he is wished that “ Your pen to be sharper” (Uzeg hurts baikh boltugai). When he is putting up his ger, he is told.“ May your ger be beautiful” (Ger tani saikhan tokhilog). And the person greeted always replies: ” May your wishes be fulfilled” (Yorool bat orshig!).
In summary, Mongolian greetings are diverse, vivid and expressive. They are often couched in the graphic form of proverbs and sayings.

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