This text was published in the book ‘Mazar Worship in Kyrgyzstan: Rituals and Practitioner in Talas’ by Aigine, Bishkek, 2007. Translated from Kyrgyz.
Chonmurunova Chachykey, 68 years old, overseer of the Chynar terek mazar, village Kok _Tokoi, Talas region.
– How did you come to the path of a shaykh?
I started to visit mazars when I was 21 years old. I often observed the flood of people going to the closest mazar in our village and I understood the sacredness of mazars. I read “Manas” and learnt that our Aichurek apa landed on chynar terek (chinar tree) that is in the Talas forest. At that time something woke up in my heart. I started to go often to the tree, became filled with energy. So I settled near Chynar terek. Its properties and energy are very strong. In childhood, when we passed by towards Suusamyr, the roots of the Chynar terek were white in color. From the time of Manas apa the tree grew smaller and the present tree grew out from the roots of that old Chynar terek. I was very concerned about it and it was later when I finally came up with an idea. Kylychbek gave me a very small piece of land without informing me. He should have given a little bigger place. The house that is built near the mazar is very small.
– What made you decide to make a pilgrimage to the mazars?
For many years I was ill and suffered. Along with kalpa Beishelik Beishenaaly I went to Chatkal. After the trip to Chatkal the things that happened to me started developing in me. It seems that there was a beam inside of me, some innate ability. I have receive people since I was 21 years old. I learnt to read namaz. The beam is not a session of meditation, my dear. Many people request me to accept them and to help them with a session. I tell them that I do not receive answers during a session. By the means of hands I transfer energy. I work with cysts, myoma, and almost all types of sicknesses except the kidneys. But I can not say that I heal it. Everything is in God’s hands. A person who comes to me does not leave with their head down. They bring all of the village children to me. They bring children suffering from rickets all the way from Bishkek. Last year people came from Osh. They took me to Osh and there I treated people. I just wish they were all healed.
– Since which year are you an overseer of the Chynar terek mazar?
Since the time when the group from “Aigine” came here. Before that I came to the mazar every week to untie the cloth pieces that the pilgrims from different places tied on the branches. I read Quran here and cleaned the area of trash I wanted to bring water here through a small canal but I did not have strength to do it. I wanted to plant trees, archa. I also often went to the Manas mausoleum so that the place could become accustomed to me. During that big toi (celebration or festival) it turned out that I was 17th out of those who regularly had been coming here and helping. We all divided the territory all the way to the top of Karool chok. I got the piece of land that is behind the museum. I brought an archa that was five years old from my house and planted it here. It took root well and now it grows. It is almost eight meters tall now. And later in 2001 I brought a walnut tree from the house and planted it across from the Manas mausoleum. It grew already and next year it will yield a harvest. I feel very close to mazars. Most of the time I want to spend not in the house but at the mazar.
– How do you feel when you visit a mazar?
I feel that I am a Muslim, but I make requests for other people. Things that I see and don’t see are a sacred mystery. I can feel it. When I get ready to go to a mazar, a sign comes on the previous day. For instance, I can see a person who suffers from talma, or a person who gets shivers. There image or face appears to me on the previous day. I myself start getting shivers and become angry and become tense.
– Do you bring those people who come to you to the mazar?
Yes, I take them. I bring women who cannot conceive, those who for 10 to 12 years could not conceive. They become pregnant and successfully give birth.
– Within what period of time do they give birth?
They give birth within one or one and a half years. They come to open the path. The girls’ lovers block their passages, but with God’s help we open it for them. People with wasting disease come. Someone threw something into their house. They request that I come and cleanse their house. I cleanse everything with the help of the Quran. Afterwards they are very thankful and fill in the notebook with the wishes and their testimonies. On the 8th of March every year those who live close by come to visit me. When women learn that their doctors insist on operations of cysts they often come to me and not to hospitals.
– How do you treat them?
With the help of energy and by the means of hands and then they recover with the help of God. I receive a person. Then after I say good bye to them, I read suras from the Quran at dawn three times and do this until the person is healed. It does not matter how long I will spend on one person. When I take the prayer beads in my hands and pronounce the suras, I move only one bead. For example I read sura, yklas, and then move one bead. In this manner I move the beads a hundred times and a hundred times I recite prayers. I feel good if a person recovers. In general, those who step over my threshold do not leave disappointed. I accept people only three days. I tell a person that I will treat them only one day and that tomorrow they will start feeling better. But they also come the next day. I do not accept people for treatment for 10- 15 days, like others do; at the most for 7 days but only if they are severely ill. One day they brought a four-year old boy. The whole day he played on the hillside where people throw out oven ashes. Maybe something touched him that day and his neck turned twisted and the child lost the ability to speak. His mother left with another child to a different village. She returned and saw her child in that state. She massaged him, thought maybe he caught a draft. Only by the evening, she noticed he could not speak. First they took him to a mullah, then to the doctor, and only after that they brought him to me. He is a son of Djoje’s son who is from Jon aryk. That time I struggled. I felt I was giving up and grew old. They came at dusk to perform a dem saluufor the child, it took an entire hour. It seemed that the Almighty showed them compassion. I told them to come tomorrow if the boy’s neck straightened out, and not to come if it did not straighten out. The boy’s neck straightened out. Early in the morning, after I read the namaz, they arrived at around six o’clock. I performed the dem saluu a second time. All together three times. On the third day they came to me to ask for a blessing. I regret that I did not tell them that they had to return for another dem saluu in November. I never saw them again.
– Can you perform a dem saluu for yourself?
No, I cannot. If I become sick I do not go to doctors. I try to do it with my own means and strength. Once I went to the lake (Issyk- Kol – translator’s note) to swim and I felt a prick. The second time I went there it happened again, so I thought that I should not do such a thing anymore. I was swimming in the bathtub and also felt a prick. My legs did not respond. I went for a massage that costs 50 soms. I took a mud bath, but it appeared that it was not a place I should come for a visit.
There was one event in my life. I often visit Arashan mazar. At one point, five days before the visit to the mazar my husband had a dream. We always walked to reach Arashan. My husband said, “It appears that you will not walk but three young men will escort you.” I asked him, “What, are you a bubu now instead of me?” Then the day came and I went walking. There were seven or eight of us and next to me was a young lady – Baken, whose mouth was twisted and I lead her. Suddenly there was a noise behind us. We looked around and saw three people on horses. Baken shouted, asking for a ride because they knew her. I shouted that they would not give a ride to a stranger. Then the young men on the horses passed by and turned back and came towards us. It turned out they were grandchildren of my husband’s brother and they recognized my voice. Two of them sat on one horse and gave me the third one. When I got on the horse they passed me my bags and out of one of them a bottle with milk fell out onto a rock. To everyone’s surprise it did not break! Such things happened!
– What is the most difficult sickness that people have when they come to you?
There was a young lady whose mouth was twisted and I struggled with her. Cysts are also difficult to treat. I have treated people with thyroid problems. I do not take everyone to the mazar with me, only those from whom I receive a sign. I do not want to take people there. When I prepare to go to the mazar in Chatkal the spirit of my grandfather from my mother’s side watches over me. He was a jaichy. I was born near the Chachykei apa rock, so they named me after it as if there is some connection between us. That is why I care that they built a house to carry out ziyarat for all the pilgrims who come to Ken-Kol mazars. When Chachykei apa, out of respect requested to be Aichurek apa husband’s second wife and promised to serve the house faithfully, Aichurek apa shouted at her, “Who are you, impudent girl, who searches for a husband?” And Chachikei apa ‘peed’ on a big rock and it cracked into parts. Chachikei mazar is also a unique place.
When I was seven or eight years old I met father Aktilek. He put a jacket on me and put me rifle in my hands and passed on his skill as a kuuchu. Apparently he was a kuuchu. If during the birthing process I give a woman pulped paper in water, then her birth process goes easily. During the whole birthing process I unwittingly gnash my teeth.