Hundreds of Mongolians in Taiwan, including those who followed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime as it fled across the Taiwan Strait in 1949, as well as Mongolian students yesterday paid their tribute to the Mongol Empire founder, Genghis Khan, at a ceremony in Taipei organized by the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.
However, many said the ceremony was not authentic.
Presenting incense, liquor and khata — a silk scarf used by Mongolians to show respect — hundreds of Mongolians, as well as commission Minister Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪), paid their respects to the former ruler.
Following the rituals, music and dance performances were held by troupes from China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
In the seating area of the ritual venue, several Mongolian students took pictures and recorded videos with their smartphones.
“This [ritual] is different from what we do in Mongolia,” said Anir, a 23-year-old Mongolian master’s student in business administration at Ming Chuan University.
“It’s also a little strange to see a foreign government hosting a ritual to pay respects to our national hero,” Anir said. “I guess they’re doing it for those Mongolians who came to Taiwan with [former president] Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).”
Another Mongolian student, studying at National Taipei University of Technology, who declined to give her name, said there was also a ritual to honor Genghis Khan in Mongolia, but it takes place in July.
“Because that’s when Genghis Khan created the Mongol Empire,” she said.
Luo said that yesterday, which was the 21st day of the third month of the lunar calendar, is the day when Mongolians traditionally gather at Genghis Khan’s tomb in Inner Mongolia.
“The ceremony, which takes place once every year, is conducted in accordance with traditional Mongolian customs,” Luo said.
Eighty-three-year-old Gechitul, who was born in Inner Mongolia and followed the KMT regime to Taiwan, served as one of the chief celebrants at the ceremony. He said the offerings used in the ritual were not exactly what they would traditionally use.
“The ceremony should take place on the 21st day of the third lunar month — the date is correct, but the offerings are a little different,” he said.
Mongolians would either pay their respects to Genghis Khan as a group in public or at home, he said.
“When you do it at home, the ritual is more simple, but the offerings would usually include cheese, milk, liquor and butter,” he said. “When you do it in public and in a group, it’s more formal and offerings would include the ‘nine whites,’” which include a white goat, white goat fur, a white bull, a white camel, a white horse, milk, yogurt and a white khata.
“But of course, most of the ‘nine whites’ are not available in Taiwan and thus some alternatives are acceptable,” he said.