President of Mongolia leads state ceremony on sacred peak

President Enkhbayar returned to Ulaanbaatar from a series of state
visits to Altai and Khovd provinces. At the sacred Sutai mountain, the Mongolian president led an elaborate
state ceremony during which he appealed for unity of the country and a
stable environment. Khampo lama Choijambs and a great number of monks
from Gandan monastery led the ceremony in religious chanting and
prayer. After a decree had been read and burnt by the president, state
officials circled an ovoo, a collection of stones adorned with prayer
flags situated on the mountain summit. The president then sprinkled
the ovoo with milk, a popular practice called milaakh in Mongolian.
The ceremony was attended by thousands of local herders who had
traveled to the site on horseback. As prescribed for sacred mountains
in Mongolia only men attended the ceremony. President Enkhbayar has
selected three sacred mountains for state ceremonies. His predecessors
had already selected another five mountains since 1990. State
ceremonies on these mountains take place every four years. The next is
set to take place in July 2008.

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