Old Believers Village Tarbagatay - uVisitRussia
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Old Believers Village Tarbagatay

The Old Believers – Russian people, who still live traditionally in a small community in the Buryat Republic.

The Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon of Moscow between 1652 and 1666. They have continued liturgical practices that the Russian Orthodox Church maintained before the implementation of these reforms. As any deviation from the correct Nikonian Orthodox was punishable by death, many of the Old Believers went into voluntary exile to Siberia, and some emigrated.

Another name of this people — Semeyskie or Family People — was given because they moved to Siberia with their big families. These special people keep the traditions of their ancestors and have a unique identity.

Their faith is the pre-17th century Russian Orthodox Christianity. They believe that the modern Russian Orthodox Church has lost the true faith and there are no true priests. The Old Believers do not share many views of the contemporary Russian Church.

The Old Believers are very hard working. In the old times, they were prohibited from drinking alcohol, smoking, tea drinking. Even today, some of their customs may seem as relics of much older and simpler times. Their way of life is very different from what urbanite Russians got used to. They managed to preserve their pride of hard work, spiritual faith in God, connection with the Mother Nature, and family values.

The phenomenon of the Old Believers is that they are like an alternate version of the modern Russians. They are the Russians, which weren’t changed by revolutions, the years of Soviet indoctrination and capitalism of the 2000s.

Many visitors come to Buryatia only for the tour to the Old Believers, to see their way of life, as if leapt from the pages of a history book. Today, there are over a hundred thousand Old Believers living in communities in Buryatia.