Celebrating Mongolian New Year during Superbowl 50
Two days ago, we had the Superbowl here in America, and the Broncos beat the Panthers. I didn’t see the kickoff though, because I was celebrating Lunar New Year the Mongolian Way.
|Elders of the L.A. Mongolian community gathered at Golden Mongolia restaurant|
On February 7 at noon there was a Tsagaan Sar celebration at Golden Mongolia restaurant, located in L.A.’s Koreatown near the Wilshire-Vermont Metro station. More properly, it wasn’t an actual Tsagaan Sar celebration. It was a celebration for Bitüün (Битүүн), the name of the day before Tsagaan Sar. Tsagaan Sar started yesterday, Monday February 8 and is continuing until tomorrow, Wednesday February 10. (That's three days long - and in the countryside where I was, the festivities often went on a whole week.)
The Los Angeles Mongolian Association holds a celebration for the ахмад (ahmad), or elders of the community, every year around Tsagaan Sar. I got to speak to some of these elders, some of whom were visiting from Mongolia. (I can only imagine their surprise when they arrived here and it was 75° F (° C)!) I went to the celebration last year, and knew they would have one again this year, so I made sure to check the time. Unfortunately, the Mongolian community and its activities aren’t always well-publicized around L.A.
|Yes, we also had huushuur, and they even put the plate right in front of me!|
|This little girl guards the gifts that have been prepared for the older Mongolian guests.|
Lunch contained plenty of Mongolian holiday staples, such as buuz and even airag, and was followed by singing and dancing (mostly waltzing, naturally). I sang "Би Монгол эр хүн" ("I am a Mongolian Man") with the help of the karaoke machine. They also made me make a brief speech.
More to my surprise, I also met two other white guys at the celebration. In fact one of them was wearing a deel - a very old-fashioned deel, as you can tell by the cut of the chest flap. His deel had a straight diagonal slash across the front, instead of the right-angle corner on more modern styles. As it turns out, they play Mongols in historical reenactments, so they knew quite a bit about Mongolian history already. They’re planning their first visit to Mongolia later this year, so wish them luck!