The Rules, Customs and Traditions to Follow Inside a Mongolian Ger

Mongolians are proud of their traditions and customs, so showing respect would go a long way. Here's what you need to hear about Mongolian social etiquette.

Mongolians are proud of their practices and habits, regardless of whether they are religious, nationalist, or liberal. To have the right experience imaginable in this fine land, be alert, respectful, and try to go along with the flow.

mongolia yurt

The yurt is indeed a symbolic reflection of the planet as it is understood by Mongolians.

Many laws must be followed before approaching the yurt of a traditional Mongolian family due to the obvious sacredness of nature and the spirits that inhabit it.

The cardinal axes cross the yurt, which is aligned with the door facing south, and the central pillars reflect the bond between earth and sky.

As a result, it's important to value this powerful and fundamental symbolism.

These rules are simple; learn them thoroughly so that you can apply them as naturally as possible, allowing you to enjoy the fun of meeting people once you arrive in this beautiful land of Mongolia. 

Remember that a smile and a polite attitude can still evoke understanding and indulgence of your guests. 

Rules to respect and take care of when you enter the yurt of a traditional nomadic family

Entering the yurt

There are certain rules that must be followed when you are staying in a traditional Mongolian Ger and it is necessary for you to follow to avoid further inconvenience. The rules that must be followed are listed below:

  • Do not knock before entering if the door is locked.
  • Always approach the yurt with your right foot first, without walking on or even touching the threshold: gently walk across it with your right foot and proceed to the left side of the yurt.
  • Never travel between the two central pillars is one of the main prohibitions.
  • It is always advised not to stand or sit on the bed to the left of the front door.
  • It is also likely that your host would then invite you to sit next to him in the honour seat across from the entrance. 
  • Keep your hat on and therefore do not approach the yurt with something that might be called a pistol in your possession.
  • Do not stretch your feet to anyone or the fire while sitting, particularly on small stools or on the floor. Sitting cross-legged or with your legs crossed beneath you is the most comfortable position.
  • If you're invited to sit on the right side of the bed, avoid passing between the two central pillars, even if it's the most obvious route. Go behind them without jumping on someone who is seated.

Food and beverages

There are also some rules that are attached to how you receive foods and beverages and those are:

Food and beverages

  • In both hands, or with the right hand and the left hand holding the right elbow, take what is provided or offered to you. 
  • Eat or drink the things that are given to you, or at least try them.
  • Whether it is beer or alcohol, lower your lips gently if you're not going to drink it.
  • When you first receive something, particularly vodka, you can make an offering to the spirits by dipping your right ring finger in the liquid and sending three drops in three different directions. It is not enough to dip your finger three times; once is sufficient.
  • Accept what is given to you in general; it is a symbol of politeness.
  • Break a piece of boiled meat, which is usually served in a large metal dish. It is advantageous to bring your knife with you in this situation.
  • Since the fire is so revered, never pour trash into it.

Giving & Receiving in a Ger

  • When giving and getting, make sure the sleeves are turned down. It is considered impolite to show your wrists. It's good to roll them up the rest of the time, we were advised.
  • You'll almost certainly be served hot milk tea, either straight from the stove or from a thermos. It's nothing to be concerned with because it's usually all heated cow, goat, or sheep milk combined with tea leaves and salt. It might not be your favorite, but when it's freezing, it's a lifesaver.
  • You can also look forward to it until you've become used to it. Accepting and trying at least a little amount is polite. It is not impolite to leave if you don't like it.
  • Homemade fried bread, dried curd, or candy may also be served, usually in a big dish. Again, you'll almost certainly have to take one to give it a shot. Unfortunately, refusing anything that is given explicitly to you is just plain rude. Thankfully, it is not impolite to do anything and then set it down, because if you don't like it, you should walk away.

Staying In a Traditional Ger:

  • Whistling inside a ger is considered bad luck since it is thought to summon the wind! This is all sorts of terrible because you work in a house made of felt and canvas.
  • When in a ger, do not squat; rather, sit on a stool or on the floor. Squatting, has a negative connotation in areas where many nomad families just have long-drop/pit toilets or ‘nature' toilets.
  • If you want to photograph their home or relatives, you should first ask their permission.
  • Instead of pointing at others, make a move with your whole hand.
  • If you're wearing a hat, you won't be able to put it on the floor.
  • Your feet should always face the door while you are sleeping.
  • Don't throw something on the flames of the fire. Fire is holy in pre-Buddhist philosophy, or shamanism, and some places assume that spirits dwell in stoves as protectors of the house.
  • If you're in the south, where Buddhism is most prevalent, avoid showing the soles of your feet to deity shrines (or touch it). This is especially significant in the central and southern parts of the country.  Shamanism is more widespread in the north.
  • Give a short handshake if you walk on, kick, or hit someone else's foot.
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