This text was published in the book ‘Mazar Worship in Kyrgyzstan: Rituals and Practitioner in Talas’ by Aigine, Bishkek, 2007. Translated from Kyrgyz.
Voices of pilgrims
T.K.: I came because I am sick.
K.S.: I came with the wish that my children grow well and were good.
A.B.: I have gone to the mazars for 10 years. I got seriously sick. When I went to bübü (q.v.), I was told to go to the mazar. Other healers said the same. At the hospital, my diagnosis was unclear. So I began visiting mazar.
R.R.: Much happened. My mother is közü achyk (q.v.) and cures people. She would bring us together to purify our souls from evil. So then I also became a közü achyk and started coming here.
R.R.: I was sick. My cousin came with me. His mother was also seriously sick, and village bübü told them to go to mazar. We came along with them as well and went to mazar.
K.N.: I have known about the power of mazar since I was a child. I was born here. Our great grandfathers used to come. I was sick with kyrgyzchylyk and unable to get better at the hospital. I diagnosed myself and now I come to mazar. Now life is good.
K.D.: I am sick without any diagnosis; I do not know which part of my body is sick. Sometimes I feel like someone is stifling me.
C.Т: I was so sick that I was about to go mad. I just became a looser. I got better after visiting mazar. Those who would say that I was crazy, now come to me themselves to get cured.
J.B.: The reason for visiting mazar is that I believe in sacredness of mazars. Moreover, I have goiter, some pain in my feet, and of course I come to worship for peace, health and the longevity of my family. I started worshipping after I got sick, twelve years ago.
I.B.: The reason for attending mazar is my wish that everything was fine with my children. I accepted kyrgyzchylyk and that’s why I visit mazar.
О.А.: Our shoulders and necks feel heavy usually, yet when we go to mazar, we feel released. So we go there because of health. Mazar is a cure for us.
D.K.: I annoy my children by getting angry and scolding them. When I visit mazar my mood changes to good. I have visited mazars for 10 years.
N.N.: My sister-in-law had her body covered with sores and spent some time at the hospital. She did not get well and this water from spring is now helping her.
М.M.: The main reason we come here is for health. We stay at home when everything is fine; health problems take a person everywhere. These sacred places are really good for diseases, especially psychological and internal diseases. If God wills, we get well from the springs. It is good to come often, but due to economic conditions I came after 2 years. I was very sick and now I am much better.
D.А.: As people say that Kochkor Ata [Ata means Father] is a sacred place, I came to worship. I have two children and I come to wish them to be healthy and happy.
R.D.: When I go to mazar, I feel really easy as if I got rid of a heavy burden. My mood changes and I become relaxed. In addition to that, when we return from mazar our problems get solved somehow.
V.A.: I have seen cemeteries in my dreams for 2-3 years. In my dreams I can see and feel the good and bad among my relatives and myself. I cannot get on the bus and have often headaches. When I turned to bübü they said to go to mazar.
М.B.: Since my early years I have had seizures and I would fall. My brother Chargyn (a powerful mullah who can ride a man as a donkey and make the water change its direction) would take me to Ak Ui’ mazar. If he would not do this, I would lie sick.
B.T.: I think nowadays many people go to mazars, because people loose their dignity and get affected by many diseases. As a way out, they go to mazars and return getting cured. This is a sign sent by Allah. I used to drink alcohol and smoke. Then my life got worse, my children had some problems with their heath and my wife got seriously sick. It was a sign. Then I saw a prophetic dream (ayan) to go to mazar. I did not want to go, but had to because I could loose my family.
А.R.: When I go to mazar I get much energy. Mazars have special power.
Т.B.: I was not used to go to mazar. Later in 1992 I got seriously sick. I went to hospital but no result. Then I went to Kalybek Ake [Ake means Brother] who said he would heal me. On the first day he did dem saluu. I just laughed. Kalybek Ake somehow felt uncomfortable. He said to come the next day. The same thing was repeated. On the third day I fell shivering. After that, he said to visit mazar.
U.K.: According to our rules, we must go to mazar and return purified. For example, we visit many places, sometimes good places, sometimes we meet bad people, and sometimes we visit indecent places. That’s why we come to these pure places to get purified. The air is especially pure, we come to breathe it, and we read Quran and then go back.
U.U.: First we come to pray to Allah for the spirits of the dead and read the Quran for them. I first came to Allah after being sick. I used to have my pelvis being dislocated when I would walk somewhere. Then I would stand and go when someone would come and rub it.
B.B.: I really suffered from being sick, that’s why I started going to mazar. When I come to mazar, I really feel easy.
Т.Y.: I went when I was in the ninth and tenth grades. I had various visions, I cried because of fear and I went to mazar. I came back sick. I was seriously sick that I had problems with my nose and tongue. Then I had myself healed and became able to take part in jar saluu (q.v.) ritual.
Т.R.: The reason was that I had stroke for 4 years and went to many places. I also went to the private hospitals in Bishkek but no change. So I come here because of my health.
Т.R.: I had a stroke. I used to work at hospital. During the operation I was making, I had a stroke and fell down. Since that time, I have come to mazar to worship. Before that, when I was frightened I would read Surahs (q.v.). My sickness would become more intense when I took medicine.
О.O.: I suffered from being sick. One lady once said to visit mazar; it did not help me. Again I had a miscarriage. Then once she said to change the place. I did it, so now I have 3 children. But again I lost my next child, because my husband drinks a lot. So I started getting better after treating people. I treat both children and adults.
U.A.: I spent 7 years at psychiatry hospital. On the way to Talas hospital I turned to Booterek mazar. Then some changes happened. My family did not accept that and brought me to the hospital by force. I got poisoned with medicine there and was close to having an attack. I would visit the mazar, which I name Ata Bei’it, in my own village. Thus I still visit mazars.
N.U.: The reason why I came here was that I got very sick. There was one lady in this village, she said to visit mazar, and then I visited one. I went at midnight to mazar; I cried, prayed and worshipped there until the morning. The next day I returned and was told by the spirits to start namaz (q.v.), and I gradually learnt namaz. So now I visit mazars.
Z.S.: Our ancestors used to visit mazars. Mazar visits are a duty [an obligation inherited from our ancestors]; that’s why we come here.
A.E.: One should not come to mazar just when something significant occurs. I come to mazarto ask for peace and welfare for children.
A.M.: I come to refresh myself, to get purified and to pray.
D.S.: I have gone to mazar for 7 years. Mazar is a good thing. You get purified and feel easy when you visit. But the main reason I go there is because of my sickness.
S.K.: We go to ask and pray for peace and welfare of the people. We hold tülöö (q.v.). And we pray for those who do not have children, we go to ask children for them.
T.B.: We go to ask for health, a child, peace and welfare for the people. We go when it does not rain, when there is a drought; to clean the place around the mazar and protect it. Those who come here had a vision in their dreams to visit the mazar. People go to pray to get rid of sins: «God please, forgive me if I did something bad or good». So I go to mazars to worship. Everything tends to change for the better. We go to keep our families strong. Those who have kyrgyzchylyk accompany those coming to the mazar and show them around. The master shows the way of kyrgyzchylyk at the mazar. It is possible also to go and spend overnight at mazar with sick livestock so that they are cured. These are advantages we can say of the mazar. Some go to get rid of bad habits, to get purified. Others go to strengthen their energy to get more strength. We go to read the Quran for the spirits. Some people who visit have meditation with spirits and a séance. We go to use the water or plants of that place because in some places the water is good for treatment; in some places the sand is good; and in other places there are herbs for treatment. We also go to see the place and perform jar saluu.
D.M.: People who accepted kyrgyzchylyk, who ask for health and who experienced accidents, go to mazar.
С.А.: I generally would not come. But I came hoping that my visit will help my daughter to get better. The hospital was not helpful. They said her illness would disappear later. But it is getting worse. I gave her spring water to drink and wash. My daughter is scared of eating bököchö [a certain type of insect, which has curative properties] that had showed Kubatbek. That is good for vitiligo (ala oorusu). I have come since the weather got warmer.
F.D.: Everyone is different. One goes to ask for something he or she did not achieve or find. Another goes to ask for a child, for happiness, or for health.
М.B.: When I go to mazar I feel so good and the energy I get there I use to treat people. If the person feels well I am happy. I personally go to the mazar to ask for health, to ease myself, and to read Quran for the spirits of that place so they obey the God. We come to get energy and to be healthy. Some people passing by with their livestock have visions.
It is mainly good for people with siezures. I have seen people get cured here. The forms of mountains tops are also, I think, a mystery. That’s what I know.
People, who experience difficulties in their business, trade or have bad luck come here and read Quran.
М.J.: I started going to mazar when I was 30 years old. My parents lived close to a mazar and they worked as shepherds. Once I had a prophetic dream; I saw koldoochu (q.v.). Since then, I accepted kyrgyzchylyk and see that place as a sign.
G.A.: I saw in my dream for 2-3 days earlier the time I will go to mazar. I go to the mazar, which I saw in my dream. If I do not go at that time, I feel bad and get sick. And I dream the same thing again and again. I saw in my dream the location of the mazar. And somehow get the name of it and will be told how to go there.
Y.K.: The reason why I came to mazar was that one of my legs was sick and I could not move it. I went to the hospital but that did not help. Then I visited Manas (q.v.) Mausoleumand after that I immediately started to walk. I then went to Arashan Ata. There my eyes were cured.
А.J.: The illness of my wife was the reason I began visiting mazars. When my wife became ill we visited Manas Mausoleum. Since then we started to visit other mazars. She is my third wife, we live separately from our children, and we are security guard at a hospital. We visit mazars because of God’s will, which is deeply rooted in us.
S.B.: We go to get energy for ourselves.
S.T.: I see some kind of prophetic dream when I see a mazar that I visit and then I go there. Most of the times it is good to go to a mazar in the spring or in fall because during those seasons the air is clean. Moreover, one should go to a mazar in the morning because angels spend their night at mazars and it is good to get their blessings.
К. G.: Mainly sick people and barren women come to mazar.
А.S.: First I refer to God and second to oluya (q.v.) with my wishes. I ask for health. In 1965 I had a serious problem with my heart. I was in the hospital for three days vomiting blood. It appeared that I had a cyst. In 1977-1978 I was told about Tarsylai’ ai’tymchy (q.v.) and visited him. He told me that I have kyrgyzschylyk.
R.М.: Saying the truth, the Shariah forbids mullahsto go to mazars, because God said I will forgive everything but I’ll not forgive going to mazars. A human being should worship only God. Therefore we are not allowed to go to mazars. But people from different places come and ask me to read Quran in certain mazars and that is why I sometimes go there and I read Quran.
K.Y.: When I sleep I have dreams in which a light comes and shows which mazar to visit. But because of a shortage of money, I do not visit some mazars. I go to mazars that are close, read Quran and purify myself. This year, in my dream I was told to go to Manas Mausoleum. I could not go there because of a lot of snow in winter. Hopefully, I’ll go there in the summer. I have conversations with spirits like I’m conversing with you now. After that, I feel relived.
G.K.: The reason I go to mazar is that there is a cemetery nearby. We read Quran in cemeteries and come to pray asking God for peace, health and welfare.
N.Y.: The reason I came to this mazar is because my grandparents had kyrgyzchylyk. I have ancestors like Oluya Ata, Kalpa Ata, Eshen Ata. My mother possessed kyrgyzchylyk and now it has come to me. There is no choice; I have to fulfil this obligation.
L.Т.: When I was a little girl my body was captured and I could not walk. A doctor Karakoi’chu admitted that he could not cure the seizure. He said “You can give her any food, but anyways she will die”. My ancestors are persons who made pilgrimage to Mecca. Then dubana (q.v.) Ümötaaly took me to the Shamshykal mazar where I was cured.
B.T.: People do not go to mazar without any reason. They go there with hope and belief. Mostly women who cannot give birth, or sick people and those who have difficulties in their lives. If they go there without any hope, there will not be any effect. They will be cured if they go there with hope and belief. I go there with people who come to me. I take them to the mazar, and sometimes I go there by myself as well.
B.K.: People go to mazars to ask for a baby, and to ask for good health. For instance, I had a heart disease and was cured at mazar.
C.R.: For instance, when you drive to Zulpukor behind the bridge, there are sea-backthorns. Doctors make medicine from them. If you go closer, the power of mazar is greater. That’s why people have been cured there. All vegetables that are around the mazar are herbs.
T.T.: I get wild rose in one mazar, pears in another one and juniper in another. While taking them, one should ask permission from the owner of the mazar. And only needed quantity should be taken. One should not take a lot. There will be an effect if one names the name of the spirit, reads Quran and uses herbs dedicating to the spirit. There is everything in the power of mazar.