Natalia Tahsler anxiously awaits her "wedding." (2006)
The group took a weekend trip to Ulan-Ude, popultion 360,000. Ulan-Ude is the capital of the Buryat Republic and is famous for having the world's largest Lenin head. The Datsan, or Buddhist temple, was one of the group's first destinations.
Probably for all concerned, the visit to the Old Believers’ village was the highlight of the Ulan-Ude trip. The Old Believers are descendants of russians who did not accept the decrees of Patriarch Nikon in 1652, which changed the Orthodox liturgy, supposedly to bring it more in line with Greek Orthodox practice. The Old Believers were persecuted for much of Russian history, and many emigrated abroad—there are OB communities in the U.S. as well as other countries. In this particular village, they dressed up to put on a lunch and cultural performance for the group, based around the music and rituals of village events, such as marriage. The hosts performed and demonstrated to us many of the traditional encounters and songs connected with the marriage ceremony.