On Saturday, 13 July, in Erzyano-Mokshania (Republic of Mordovia) Ras’ken’ Ozks was held as the biggest ancestral prayer of Erzyan people. Village of Chukaly in Bolsheignatovsky district became the traditional place of this gathering, where prominent battle of Erzya against Nogai horde took place in 1612.
History of ritualized public prayers in Erzyan Mastor goes away in the mists of time. However in 1629 Muscovy forbade to celebrate Ras’ken’ Ozks. Tsar’s prohibition suspended the tradition for 370 years. Only in 1999 Erzya succeeded to revive an ancient ritual. From 2004 Ras’ken’ Ozks is conducted in Chukaly every three years.
Ras’ken’ Ozks gathers Erzya people from all over the world, whole nearest villages of participants arrive in Chukaly. Traditional religious ceremonies, national games, songs, demonstration of folk suits and tasting of ritual dishes are organized here. The major element of Ras’ken’ Ozks is collective prayer and invitation of souls of Erzya dead ancestors.
Except ceremonial, Ras’ken’ Ozks also plays very important social role. Council of Elders, Atian’ Ezem, is gathered before the prayer to discuss the most important issues in the life of Erzyan people. Until next Ras’ken’ Ozks is held, members of the Council choose the chief elder, Inyazor, by a secret ballot.
Kshumantsian’ Pyrguzh was elected as Inyazor of Erzyan people six times in a row. However for this time Atian’ Ezem entrusted implementation of this important mission to Syres’ Boliayen’, chairman of Erzyan Val society and co-founder of Free Idel-Ural civic movement. New Inyazor’s candidacy was supported by 12 elders (from 18 total).
Syres’ Boliayen’ is an Erzyan poet, translator, activist of Erzyan community in Ukraine. He was a participant of Revolution of Dignity (EuroMaidan) in Ukraine and liberation war against Russian occupants in Eastern Ukraine. In his keynote speech Syres’ Boliayen’ encouraged Erzya to be thoughtful above prospects of preservation of whole Erzyan nation and actual aims of national movement. He appealed to the Council with suggestion to stand an active position in issues of defending Erzyan national interests before authorities of Russian Federation and Republic of Mordovia.
Syres’ Boliayen’ will officially take Inyazor’s mandate after oath of office is taken. Under conditions of authoritarian regime of modern Russian Federation, chief elder’s being abroad is an advantage. It allows elected Inyazor to operate actively without risk of repressions from Kremlin and its local Mordovian servants.