Greek and Mari Gods

Н.Г. Егошина
МБОУ "Гимназия № 14 г. Йошкар-Олы"
Йошкар-Ола, 2016

(на английском языке)
(в сравнении)
Выполнила: Иванова Елизавета, ученица 10 А класса
МБОУ "Гимназия № 14 г. Йошкар-Олы"
Руководитель: Егошина Надежда Гермогеновна,
учитель английского языка
МБОУ "Гимназия № 14 г. Йошкар-Олы"
Адрес гимназии: Йошкар-Ола, Ленинский проспект, 54
Директор: Глушкова Татьяна Валентиновна (р.т. 424810)
2016 год
Religion is a form of a world perception that is inspired by strong belief in God. It a combination of views as well as a feeling of close connection with God, dependence on Him and great gratitude to Him. In religious feelings are concentrated faith, respect and fear of people in front of the God.
Till today the Mari people are the followers of the pagan religion. They are called "chimarij". They worship nature and idolize numerous gods.
In the bases of their religion lies the worship of the Sky. In accordance with the ancient Mari people's views, the realm of gods is divided into upper and lower ones. The Mari people pray to the nine major gods called Yumo and Ava Yumo. In the pantheon of the lowers gods are used the words vodyzh, muzho, keremet. Later the number of gods increased. For instance, a famous researcher G. Yakovlev wrote that Meadow Mari people prayed to 140 gods.
It's obvious, different peoples have different conceptions or notions about the divine sphere. The common feature is the idea that if a person keeps the moral rules of spiritual life, they have an opportunity to unite with the source of life, i.e. with God. The process of unity with God is carried out through the inner faith.
The process of classification of mythological creatures represents definite difficulties as the object of analysis is rather changeable and movable. More than that, the system of mythological ideas was built during centuries. It means that the old beliefs died out but they didn't disappear completely. They underwent some transformations and entered the new religious system.
In our work we'll try to study, analyze and compare the religious beliefs of the two nations - ancient Greeks and ancient Maris, pointing out some similarities and some differences. We are going to compare the religious beliefs according to the following criteria:
1. The images of the most honoured Gods.
2. Their accommodation, peculiarities of life.
3. The hierarchy of the Gods.
4. The relationships between people and Gods.
5. The places where people worship their gods.
6. The ways people worship the Gods.
7. The presentation of Gods and religious beliefs in Art.
1. The system of major Gods
Greek Gods Mari Gods
1. Zeus - the God of wisdom, thunder and lightning, who rules the Universe. The father of Gods and people. His attributes are: a shield and a double-sided axe, sometimes - an eagle. He distributes good and evil on Earth. He is a kind force. Sometimes he is associated with fate or fortune. The whole social order on the Earth was built by Him. He gave laws to people. He protects families and houses. His duty is to let people keep traditions and customs. All the rest Gods obey Him. 1. Kugu Yumo - the creator of the Earth and the Sky, the Universe. In the Mari tradition He is represented as a grey-haired old Man with a white beard who lived in the Sky. He resists the deeds of the Devil. He is the Master over angels. The name Yumo originally meant "the sky".
There is also the female image of Yumo - Ava - Kava - the Mother of the Sky.
Kugu Yumo is also called the God of Thunder along with the other God Kudyrcho Yumo who is also the patron of Thunder. He is described as a formidable and stern God who is riding in his chariot. He is looking for the evil and is firing at it with his arrows. The Mari people used to plead Him not to hit them with his arrows and to forgive their sins.
Both thunder and lightning are positioned as cleaning remedy for the evil spirits, vivifying forse that gives well-being and prosperity.
Volgenche Yumo - the God of Lightning, Kugy Yumo's assistant. He acts together with Pyl Yumo -the God of clouds.
2. Gera - the Goddess of marriage, she protects women during the process of childbirth. She is the upper goddess, Zeus's wife. She is rather beautiful. Her head was crowned with golden locks, her eyes were full of power and dignity. She was wearing a long dress, made by Athena herself. All gods respected Her as well as her husband Zeus.
She was driving a silver chariot and sweet aroma was spreading around. All creatures kneeled down in front of her - the female ruler of Olympus. 2. Shim Shochyn Ava - the Goddess of seven births. She is the patroness of marriages and confinement. She helps women to give birth to a child. Women can only pray to Her. The man can make a sacrifice to Her to ease the sufferings of his wife. The usual sacrifice is a white lamb.
The tradition says that the third sacrifice in the life of a married man should be made to this goddess. In this case a cow and six smaller animals must be sacrificed.
Ikshyve Shochyn Yumo - the God of childbirth.
3. Poseidon- the God of the sea. He is the master of the water element. He is settled in a luxurious palace together with his wife Amphitrite and his son Triton on the sea bed. His main attribute is a trident with the help of which he causes storms, broke rocks, hit the land that ended in appearance of springs with salty or fresh water.
The main characteristics of this God is his imperiousness, invincible and mighty strength which goes together with his royal grandeur. His face was always wearing the traces of anger and excitement unlike Zeus's face which was full of tranquility.
3. Vud Yumo - the God of Water.
Vud Ava Yumo - the Goddess of water.
Vud Oza - the master of water. Sometimes He appears in the image of a pike. Gradually he begins to be presented as the Tsar of the water element and gets the name the Chief of the water (Vud On). To his honour were performed special rituals and were made special sacrifice. During fishing the Mari men never used the crude language not to insult this God. This God is believed to plot against people who like to drink, who has a lot of sins, who breaks the religious laws.
Er Oza - the God of the Lake.
Pamash Oza -the God of the Spring.
Tengyz Ava Yumo - the Goddess of the Sea. Tengyz Yumo - the God of the Sea.
4. Aid - the God of the underground kingdom of the dead. He is also an Olympic God though he spends most of his time in his realm. He climbs up and turns up on the surface only on business. He reigns together with his spouse Persephone whom He kidnapped when she was gathering flowers in the field.
This God was a terrible God. People were afraid even to pronounce His name. 4. Keremet - the main God of the lower world, the strongest evil force which opposes Kugu Yumo. he is assisted by a mythic character called Azyren (the spirit of death). He is seen only by bad, evil people. He is presented in different images: in the image of the dead relative or in the image of a man driving a black cart.
5. Demetrius (Demetra) - (in Greek - Serer) - the Goddess of fertility and agriculture. Zeus called Demetra to the Olympus and made her responsible for fecundity of land. She taught people to cultivate the land and put the beginning to the new way of life of people, who used to be nomads before. 5. Mlande Yumo - the God of land, patron of farming.
Mlande Ava Yumo - the Goddess of land, who makes the land fertile and makes it a great producing force.
The Mari people have always been an agrarian nation and they worship these Gods with particular respect because they fully depend on their generosity. People used to sacrifice them a black animal. People even celebrate the birthday of these Gods and the land. It is called Mlande Shochmo Keche. On that day people didn't disturb the land, giving it rest and peace. putting on white clothes, people had special praying to honour these Gods.
Urlyk Yumo - the God of sowing.
Aga Savysh - the God who protects field work.
Pasu Oza - the God of the field. He helps to grow good harvest of crops and to collect it quickly, without any loses.
Agavairem Yumo -the God of the Holiday that is called the Day of the Plough.
Kinde Perke Yumo - the God of the Bread Abundance.
5. Gefest - the God of fire, the patron of blacksmiths, a skillful farrier himself. He is Gera and Zeus's son. He was lame since birth and irritated mother dropped him from the Olympus. He fell right into the ocean and wasn't injured. The naval Goddesses Evrinoma and Phetida took care of him. In their underwater kingdom he learned the trade of a blacksmith. Tyl Ava Yumo - the Goddess of Fire. It was highly respected as the keeping of fire gave people hope for prosperous life, for survival in severe climatic conditions. The Goddess saved people from cold and snow.
The hosts of the houses often made a sacrifice to this Goddess, burning some food in the oven. This Goddess also protects from evil spirits. People used the twigs of cade during the cleaning rituals.
Apshat Kugyza - the God of the blacksmith's shop, the patron of blacksmiths. In Mari religion - a blacksmith is the master of fire and he could apply with any request to this God at any time of the year.
6. Apollo - (has a nickname Feb)- the God of Light, the patron of Arts, the leader of muses, future predictor. He symbolizes the Sun. He shot his arrows into the Giant Titus, and took part in the battle against titans. His main weapon is a bow, made of silver. 6. Keche Yumo - the God of the Sun. He has a big staff of assistants: Keche Sukso (Angel of the Sun), Keche Ava Yumo (The Goddess of the Sun). To honour this God ancient Mari people sacrificed a goose, a cow or an ox. This God demonstrated a unique phenomenon called Keche Modesh - The Sun's illumination. It is a special state of the Sun on the days of great holidays. It was regarded a sacred deed to meet the sunrise and to watch its unusual light. It was believed that this phenomenon can be available only for a pious person.
7. Arthemida - the Goddess of hunting, the patron of all living on the Earth. Later She became the Goddess of the Moon. The cult animals of this Goddess are a female bear and a doe. 7. Tylze Ava Yumo - the Goddess of the Moon. The ancient Maris considered as a big sin to point to the Moon with a finger. At the sight of a young Moon, the Maris used to bow to it. The people connected health of children with the Moon, as well as the good kindle, the rich crop. The Moon determined the rhythm of people's life. The Maris used the Lunar calendar.
Shudyr Ava Yumo - the Goddess of the Stars. The ancient Maris believed that when each new child was born, a new star appeared in the sky. In the prayers to this Goddess the people used to ask for happiness to the whole Mari nation to each individual separately.
8. Dionis - the God of vegetation, viniculture, vine-making, the patron of productive forces of nature. At first He was the personification of abundance of verdure that is displayed in a big number of juicy fruits and long grass, in a great deal of vines that provide men with delicious taste and the ability to cheer them up. They all were the symbols of this God. 8. Chodyr Yumo - the God of the forest.
Chodyr Ava Yumo - the Goddess of the Forest.
Chodyr Oza - the Hostess of the forest riches. To please this Goddess, the Maris must keep order of the forest: not to cut trees, not to pick up too many berries and mushrooms.
Oto Yumo - the God of the grove.
Shosho Yumo - the God of Spring.
Khikhrya Yumo - the God of flowers.
9. Borey, Evr, Zephyr, Not - the Gods of the winds. The patron of this element was different. It depended on the part of the world. Borey was responsible for the Northern wind. This God was depicted with wings, long hair and a beard. He lived in Frakkiya, where it was always dark and cold. The God had a unique ability - he could embody into a сolt. The god of the South-Oriental wind - Evr. He caused the terrible storms and brought a lot of troubles and misfortunes to the seamen. The ruler of the western winds was Zephyr. His winds were gentle and light. The God of the South wind was called Not. He brought damp fog. 9. Marezh Yumo - the God of the wind.
Marezh Ava Yumo - the Goddess of the Wind.
The wind as a natural force occupies a considerable place in the mythology of the Mari people. To honour the God of the Wind means to please Him constantly. During a storm people addressed this God asking to pacify the wind, to protect the gardens. During a heavy rain a fire in the oven was burnt and pieces of bread were sacrificed to the God asking Him to stop the downpour. The wind also spread diseases around the world. In such a case a quack treated a patient with special charms, asking the God of the Wind to carry the illness away.
Tule Yumo - the God of the hurricane. He was believed to keep the winds on the chain. If he didn't get a donation for a long time, he let the winds go away and they devastated the land.
10. Aphrodite - the Goddess of beauty and love. She had a magic love power that all gods and people obeyed. Her symbols were a rose, a myrtle, an apple and a poppy. Her main accessories were a belt and a gold bowl, filled with vine. If a man drank from it, he became eternally young.
The Goddess was very pretty! Her skin was white and tender, like the sea foam, that gave birth to Her. She was tall, slender, with golden wavy hair. She was a real pearl among the Gods on Olympus. No information is found.
11. Athena - the God of the organized war, war strategy and wisdom. She was easily recognized by her unusual appearance. Unlike other female Gods She used the male attributes - the armour, she was holding a spear in her hand. She was accompanied by sacred animals.
Ares - the God of war. He was distinguished by perfidy and shrewdness, He preferred an insidious war, a war for the sake of a war. His name filled the Greeks with terror. Any war made the sense of his life. He never speculated if it was a just war or not. Getting mad at the sight of blood, He killed everybody, indiscriminately, both the right and the guilty. No information is found.
12. Hermes - the God of trade, profit, as well as the God of athletes. he was a born orator, nobody could surpass Him in dodginess, slyness and stealing. No information is found.
13. No information is found. Idym Oza - the Goddess of the barn. His main function is to protect the crop. He was sacrificed with some porridge.
Idym Yumo - the God of the threshing-floor.
Vuta Yumo - the god of the cattle-shed. The patron of the cattle.
Moncha Ava - the Goddess of the bath-house.
Kinde Yumo - the God of bread.
Muksh Yumo - the God of honey, the patron of bee-keeping.
Ushkal Yumo - the God of the cows. He protects cows from diseases and protects milk from witches.
Shoryk Shochyn Ava - the Goddess of the sheep. Sheep played an important part in the Mari people's life. Their meat was used in culinary, their skins were used for clothes, the animals were
Also used for sacrifices. There was a special holiday called Shorykjol - the sheep's leg. it was a winter festival that meant the ending of farming work.
Tege Yumo - the God of the Geese.
Chyve yumo - the God of the hens and chickens.

2. The place of living, the peculiarities of living, the general way of life
Greek Gods Mari Gods
Olympus - the highest mount in Greece. The mount is situated in the north-east of Thessaly. In ancient Greek mythology it is the place where the main gods live. On the north slope of the mount is a sacred city of the people of Macedonia called Dion, i.e. the city of Zeus.
The life on the mount is full of luxury and solemn splendour. The skillful Gefest constructed each God a comfortable and cozy palace but the most magnificent belongs to Zeus. It is made of pure gold and contains spacious halls with stunning interiors. In the palace that owes Gefest himself, there is a workshop, made of copper, where the host works, a divine blacksmith. In his bedroom the armchairs and the bed are decorated with silver nails, beside them there are convenient settees. The palace of Gera is distinguished by her bedroom with a secret locked door where the Goddess changes her smart dresses; puts on her rings, brooches, necklaces; rubs herself with incenses.
The solemn dinner parties and splendid balls for divine dwellers take place regularly in Zeus's palace. The life of the immortals is merry, careless and cloudless. They always have a great time having feasts, singing, dancing, playing. During the festive meals the Gods sit on the gold thrones and drink not wine but ambrosia, i.e. flowers' nectar. They don't eat bread like mortals, the ambrosia makes them constantly young and immortal. Apollo is in the habit of playing the lyre and it makes the parties particularly pleasant. With the first accords the Muses start singing, changing each other. The world of Gods doesn't know any terror or fear that exists in people's life.
The Gods are sweet and mild towards people. Even if they send storms or other disasters to people, they themselves try to correct the consequences, helping people to survive. The major Gods live somewhere high up. Kugu Yumo lives in a gold palace in the sky. The sky keeps the purity of the people. It used to be lower, close to people and it was possible to climb it, using the ladder called Shopsharu that was made of the tree trunk. But people defiled it and the sky rose higher. As a result the connection between Gods and mortals weakened and sometimes even broke at all.
In the Mari legends the sacred place that linked the sky, the earth and the beyond (the other world) was a mount called Kuryk. It was a kind of a border line. The summit was inhabited by the Gods, the other world was under the mount and it was the place of living for the dead ancestors. And somewhere in the middle existed people. The mount refers to the holy places of sacrifices and ritual ceremonies.
Minor Gods, responsible for the separate parts of the Universe, dwelled in their surroundings, e.g. The God of the forest lived among the trees and bushes in the wood, the God of water inhabited the nearest lake or river and so on.
The three worlds, i.e. the upper (divine), the middle (human) and the low (the other world) were connected vertically by means of a sacred tree called "onapu" or the world tree. The tree occupied the central place of the holy space and played the part of a mediator between a man and Gods.

3. The Hierarchy of the Gods
Greek Gods Mari Gods
Ancient Greeks thought that he first Gods appeared together with the creation of the sky and the land and those Gods were Uranus and Geya - the God of the sky and the Goddess of land correspondingly. They gave birth to Kronous, who became the first upper God and the ancestor of all other Gods. The myths say that Krounus was very much afraid that His children would deprive him of his power on Olympus so he devoured his own off-springs. To protect a newly-born Zeus, his mother, Godddess Reya by name, hid the baby in a cave. When Zeus grew up, He conquered his father-monster, got their brothers and sisters free from Kronus's belly and became the main God himself. Zeus, His wife Gera, their children, Zeus's brothers, sisters, nephews composed the pantheon of Greek Gods.
All the Gods the citizens of the ancient Ellada believed in, could be divided into three major groups: the sky Gods (they dwelled on Olympus), the underground Gods (they were the rulers of the realm of the dead) and Earth Gods who protected people and spent the majority of their time on the Earth.

The ancient Mari people used to worship nature around them and prayed numerous gods. They were pagans. This religion presupposes the respect of nature and makes the objects and different phenomena animated.
The term "paganism" is often substituted for "polytheism", i.e. worship of a number of gods at a time. The ancient Maris believed that the main God is called Yumo - the highest God. Yumo is the greatest positive force. He is endless, he is omnipotent. He gave birth to the human race and takes care of people, protecting their lives. He unites the Universe into one joint thing.
The Maris also thought that each natural element was the embodiment of this or that God. All the elements had their mothers. i.e. Ava in the Mari language. On this base the idea of female Gods appeared.
Apart for the Goddesses, existed the male pantheon of Gods. It was considered the main one. The Gods were divided into three groups: the upper ones who were living in the sky, the agrarian Gods and the Gods, patrons of the bee-keeping. Each upper God had a suite that consisted of angels and messengers. The upper Gods were three in number. Three sacred trees in the holy grove were devoted to them. It could be a birch tree, an oak-tree or a lime tree. The agrarian Gods were seven in number as well as the Gods devoted to apiculture. In addition there were some secondary or minor Gods who were in charge of different natural elements.
In the traditional world perception of the Mari people several animals, birds, trees were used with the adjective "yumyn" that means "divine", e.g. an elk- a deer, a sea-gull, a cuckoo, a swan.
The mythology of the Mari people is also based on one notion called "sandalyk". It means a three-layer-system of the world: the upper (in the sky), the middle (on Earth) and the low (under the Earth). The high and low worlds are connected with the spiritual life of people.
4. The relationships with people
Greek Gods Mari Gods
The Greek goods played the role of patrons towards the mortals. The Gods had their own heroes whom they helped. But if a person got guilty in front of the Gods, the latter could punish him, could send a disease to him or another calamity. The relationships between Gods were various, some of them were friend, others hated each other or envied one another. The Gods of ancient Greeks were much like ordinary people with all their rows and vices.
Each God was the sponsor of the definite area of people's activity. There were Gods -protectors of farming, hunting, etc. The Gods possessed some qualities and passions that were characteristic of people: they fell in love, demonstrated hate or anger, they liked to carry on an intrigues. So, the Gods were brought nearer to people and their deeds were clear to mortals.
In numerous myths the life of people and the life of the gods was often interlaced. Sometimes they are connected with bonds of marriage, sometimes they are separated by mutual hostility. A man could easily apply to the God with a request, the Gods could entrust a man with a task or errand, make him a gift or change his fate.
Both Gods and common people adored strength, courage, wisdom, patriotism, kindness and purposefulness. The relationships between Gods and people have a dialogical foundations. The dialogical relationships, the "contractual model" corresponds to the inner psychic peculiarities of a human being and the intellectual level on the early stage of the social development. It is seen in a number of rituals that kept their pagan basis. The stipulated relationships between Gods and people put definite duties on each side and gave some rights. The younger (the humans) were to keep respect towards the elder (the Gods) and make regular sacrifices. The Gods in this case were favorable to the humans and gave luck in business.
One of the peculiar features of the self-conscience of the ancient Maries was the strong belief in the close unity of the human's world with the cosmic world.
The God or the upper Force or the Cosmos is complicated. The god created everything from His parts. The man himself is a part of the God. Being a part of the God, the man can't help loving Him, can't help trusting Him. Feeling the deep love of the God, the man can't help respecting Him. Being aware of God's strictness, the man can't help experiencing the awesome fear in front of the God.
The true faith plays a positive role in people's life, rises the intellectual level, brings up respect and trepidation to the parent (the God, the Cosmos), provides the limitation of the material needs, rescues the mankind as a whole.
The Mari people didn't oppose themselves to the God (nature, Cosmos). Before taking something from nature, a man prayed to the other parts of nature, Cosmos (a river, a forest, a tree, etc.) asking for the permission to use it. He didn't take too much. A man and nature co-existed in harmony.
A man used to communicate with God or Cosmos, did it mainly early in the morning (asked and promised) and at the end of the day (thanked for help and protection). A person did so not to break the cosmic order, not to break his promises to God. When he had some difficulties or troubles that couldn't be overcome with his own human force, a man applied to the Gods for assistance. It was believed that it was better to address the God in groups, large enough in number, Their joint praying formed the collective soul, as well as strengthened the spiritual powers of each individual. So it was necessary to get together for collective praying at least once a week.
5. People's worship of Gods
Greek Gods Mari Gods
The forms of the religious cults of the ancient Greeks were comparatively simple. The most common part of the cult was a sacrifice. Its amount varied. The simplest form was to sprinkle some wine on the ground or to the fire. The Gods sometimes were given bread, oil, fruits, etc. The most complicated sacrifice included the animals. In the most significant cases their number varied from 50 to 100.
The type of a sacrifice also depended on the God whom it was devoted. The Olympic Gods were sacrificed the white animals while the Gods of the underground were gifted with black ones. The sacrifices to the heroes were burnt. The meet of the cattle sacrificed to the upper Gods was eaten by the participants of the ritual. The sacrifices to the low Gods were burnt and buried in the ground.
One more cult ritual was to put the wreaths to the altars, the decorations of the Gods' statues with flowers. They were accompanied with solemn processions, hymn chanting, ritual dances.
The rituals were always performed in accordance with strict established order. The process of Gods worship was treated as an important state matter. The rituals were made under the guidance of the upper officials. The most significant rituals took the form of all-nation solemn festivals, e.g. The Big and The Little Panaphenes in the city of Athens, The Germey Games in Pheniya, etc.
The brightest examples of the religious cults were religious holidays connected with worship of the Gods. The most well-known is the festival called The Big Panaphenes, devoted to Athena, that included sacrifices in the Acropolis, the construction purposely built for this aim. The Little Panaphenes were held annually, the Big ones took place once a period of four years. The climax of the festival was on the last day. During this festival were made significant sacrifices, took place parades and sports competitions, mainly in gymnastics. Later the musical agons were held. The musical contests took place in Odeon. The culmination was the solemn procession in which participated all the population of Athens. At the head of the procession was moving a huge cart - the so-called Panaphenisky ship - with the richly decorated clothes of the Goddess. It was of the saffron colour and it was weaved by the women of Athens for each celebration. The procession was followed by a big sacrifice ritual. The festival ended with a joint holiday supper.
The simmilar festivals were organized in honour of many other Gods. Thus, to worship Zeus, the ancient Greeks arranged the Olympic Games. Athletes from all parts of Greece participated in them. The respect to Zeus was so big that in all corners of the country all the war conflicts stopped.
In honour of Poseidon the ancient Greeks organized the Istmijsky Games. The main item of the sports programme was the horse-riding contests.
At the end of November the Greeks paid respect to one God - Dionis with the help of the so-called Brumaly.
Alongside the nation-wide rituals there were more modest but not less frank and sincere home or family ceremonies devoted to various Gods. The ancient Maries devoted special holidays to their Gods.
Agavairem is an old agrarian festival, devoted to the Gods of land, fertility, natural forces. It mostly takes place after the spring sowing. The day and the time of the holiday is appointed by the upper priests called carts. It was desirable to conduct this ceremony at newly-born Moon. The festival was crowned with all-Mary praying. The main constituent part of the holiday is a collective praying and a sacrifice in the form of pancakes, eggs, honey-drink and beer.
The ceremony of praying consisted of several stages - firstly in one separate village, then - a number of settlements got together, finally took place the all-the Mari praying.
The process of collective praying was held in a special place called shelyk. People had to come there in smart and neat clothes. With a priest - cart at the head the Maris prayed and asked the Gods (among them was a special God Agavairem Yumo - the patron of this festival) for good weather conditions, for good future harvest of crops, for the protection of the future harvest from storms, hail, pests.
Having prepared everything necessary for the ritual, the Maris went to the sacred grove (Agavairem Oto). The priest (cart) burned a fire. Only male part of the population was allowed to participate in the praying. The womwn and children were standing apart. All the prayers were standing on the kneels facing to the south-east. In front of them were placed the holiday dishes that were brought to the praying. The bowls were put on special mats, it was forbidden to put the dishes right on the ground.
Before the ritual the main priest gave the name of a God to each man, whose name he had to pronounce during the collective chanting. The main text of the pray was sounded by the pries himself. It was addressed to the Upper God Kugu Yumo and to the God - patron of this holiday (Agavairem Yumo).
After praying, the priest and his assistants collected the pieces of pancakes, pies, brought to the ceremony and threw them into the fire, calling the Gods by names. Then the joint dinner started. After dinner all the people present came around the fire three times saying grateful words to the Gods. After that sports contests were organized. The young men competed in horse-riding, running, tested their strength and adroitness.
The young guys stood in a line on the wood edge. The drummer started drumming and that was the signal for the start. Everybody ran towards the village. The winner was awarded with an embroidered towel, painted eggs, pancakes.
The next important holiday of the spring cycle was called The Great Day (Kugeche). It was connected with the awakening of nature. On the ceremonial table were placed the national dishes, painted eggs. During the ceremony were held the family prayings. They lasted for the whole week. People asked prosperity and health for themselves, their relatives and neighbours.
The most strict ritual festival was called Surem (Purification) and it was connected with a great number of magic deeds. They were aimed against the evil spirits. The holiday took place on 9-12 June. The peculiar trait of this holiday was a big collective praying, followed by a sacrifice. The praying lasted for 3-5 days. The sacrifices were made in front of the sacred trees. The main God of this holiday - Surem Yumo - was given a foul. The angel and the herald were gifted ducks. The keeper of the God was presented with a sheep. About 40 animals in each territory were sacrificed during this festival.
One more holiday (U Kinde or U Ginde in the Mari language) - the holiday devoted to the newly-grown crop - was held in the form of a family praying. It was an obligatory ritual for all the Maris. On the day of the holiday women baked bread from the new flour and cooked beer.The eldest member of the family lit a candle. put it on the edge of the bowl with new grain and addressed the Gods, saying words of gratitude to the Gods for the harvest, asked good weather for further field-work, good health for all the members of the family.
The holiday of newly-cooked porridge was called U Puchemysh. the ceremony of the festival also included the grateful praying and the ritual dinner. On that day women cooked porridge and baked pancakes. Next to the threshing-floor the host set a fire to which the members of the family cast the gifts for the Gods.
The collective praying to the God - patron of bee-keeping, called Muksh Yumo, was organized twice a year. The God was sacrificed the bowls with honey.
6. The places of the religious cults and sacrifices
Greek Gods Mari Gods
The ancient Greeks built splendid temples to worship their Gods. Among them are Temple of Gera, temple of Apollo, temple of Zeus, temple of Athena, temple of Demetra. The Temple in honour of Zeus was constructed under the guidance of a well-known architect of those times Phidiy. The construction work started in 6 century B.C. It was a gigantic temple. Till today a few columns of the temple have remained.
In the south part of Greece there was a temple devoted to Poseidon. It was surrounded by sea from the three sides. It was erected in the year 440 B.C. Only a few columns remind us today of the previous luxurious and magnificent temple.
In the city of Paestum there was a temple devoted to Gera. It was built in the year 550 B.C. a bit further there was s temple to Athena, constructed in the year 500 B.C.
500 meters to the north-west from the famous Acropolis was located the temple devoted to Gefest. It is one of the most preserved ancient constructions though it is not widely known. It was built in 5 century B.C. in the area which was rich in metal ore. That's why it was devoted to the divine blacksmith.
In the outskirts of the city of Agridgento was situated the whole valley of Temples. Here you can see the remnants of the seven ancient churches. The most well preserved is the Temple in honour of Concordya, built in 5 century B.C. The other temples were devoted to Yunona, Hercules and others. As a rule, gratitude and obedience to Gods were expressed by means of sacrifice. The tradition to make sacrifices is carried put to demonstrate people's gratitude and submissiveness to Gods, to strengthen ties with them, to get some grace in return, to fill in the gaps in vital recourses, increasing the fertility of the land.
A great part in the development of relationships between people and Gods played the sacred groves. It was a place for talking to Gods. In order to determine the place of the holy groves, people fenced them with special rakes. Each grove had 3 gates: in the east - for the sacrificed animals, in the south - for water delivery, in the west - for those who took part in the praying. The site for the holy grove was selected carefully. it should be located at some altitude among the fields. It got a special name ("kusoto" in the Mari language). There were family groves, village groves, world groves, all-Maris groves. In some cases there were groves in which people used to pray to only one God. For the agrarian holidays there wre separate groves.
The territory of the grove had a hierarchic structure. The central place is occupied by the sacred tree called onapu - it the place for praying to Yumo. Next to the tree there was a pole where numerous gifts such as shirts, towels were hung. The holy tree was chosen by the main priests (called carts). This tree had to be strong and beautiful. It could be a birch, a lime tree or an oak.
The area around the sacrifice table is the second important holy place. next to it used to be a fire with the pot, the candles. The burning fire was the means of transportation of the people's requests and praying to the upper world. The table itself was first covered with an embroidered table cloth or towel. on this covering were placed the holiday dishes. In the middle of the table was a jug with honey. it remained there till the end of the ceremony. A bit further from the fire were standing ordinary people. The location of everybody was strictly determined by his age, gender, social status. The people should wear white clothes at the ceremony of praying.
It was forbidden to pick up flowers, to gather berries or mushrooms in the sacred groves. It was not allowed to speak loudly. The women had to cover their heads. No rubbish could be left in the grove. It was forbidden to bring any alcoholic drinks or to come drunken.
The Maris prepared different treats as sacrifices, e.g. beer, honey, porridge, pancakes, boiled meat. It was forbidden to taste the meat or the broth while cooking.
During the ceremony the musicians performed the ritual melodies on the psalteries.
Special attention was paid to the purity of the thoughts of the people in the sacred grove. The sacred place possessed the enormous spiritual strength. It could be visited only with good intentions.
The words in the praying had the definite fixed succession. The moment of starting the praying resembled the process of uniting a big family. When the ceremony was over, all the present people thanked the priests for their work. After all the rituals, the priest closed the sacred grove with the help of holy words, asking Gods to protect the sacramental site from evil people.
7. The images of Gods in the Fine Arts
Greek Gods Mari Gods
There are a lot of paintings and sculptured devoted to the Greek Gods that are kept and displayed in numerous museums. The State hermitage, for example, has the whole Greek Hall. Let's mention some of them.
1. The Hall of Hercules.
2. The marble sculpture of Hercules (I century B.C.)
3. Hercules at rest. Sculpture.
4. Hercules as a boy. Statue.
5. A little Hercules, strangling the snakes.
6. A marble group "Hercules fighting the Nemea Lion"
7. Aphrodite and Amur.
8. The Statue of Zeus Olympic.
9. Diana having a rest after hunting.
10. A Hall of Dionis.
11. The sculpture "The Head of the God of war called Ares"
12. Gefest and Fetida with the armour of Axel. (Western Berlin, State Museum).
13. Aphrodite, Eros and Persephona (Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts).
14. Triptolem in the winged chariot (The Museum of Vatican).
15. Triptolem near Demetra and Persephona (The Louvre, Paris).
16. demetra and Persephhona (Athenes, The State Archeological Museum).
17. Eros and Psyche. IV century B.C. (the location is unknown). The Mari Gods are represented in the Fine Arts much less in comparison with the ancient Greek Gods. We can see some mythological ideas in the masterpieces of the representatives the so-called ethno futurism in Arts. Among them are Ivan Yumberdov, Yury Tanygin, Ivan Efimov, Alexander Ivanov. Some of their famous paintings are:
1. "The Wheel of the Eternity", "The century", " The univerce", "The Cart", "The God of the Forest" by I. Yamberdov.
2. "The bird of Happiness", "The Revival", : The Land of the ancestors" by Y. Tanygin.
3. "Under the sign of an ox", "Under the sign of a wolf", "Kugurak (a sacred mount)" by A. Ivanov.
1. It is obvious that religious beliefs existed in the culture of all nations in this or that form.
Religion is a particular attitude of a person to the upper being or creature or upper force, that were created by people's imagination, and whom people worshiped. The phenomenon of appearing the upper force is determined by the fact that a man realized his loneliness and his vulnerability in the huge outer space of nature and had a strong desire to protect himself.
2. The earliest form of the upper force in both cultures was the idea of Absolute or Cosmos. It was a powerful super-substance that created Earth, people and Gods.
3. The characteristic features of both religions at the early stage of existence were polytheism (the existence of a large number of Gods) and anthropomorphism (Gods had human features).
4. The images of Gods, created by the nations, have much in common. They both have a major God (Zeus and Kugu Yumo), whom all the rest Gods obey. There is his opponent or antipode - the God of Death (Aid and Keremet). There are Gods of separate natural elements: The God of water (Poseidon and Byd Yumo), the God of wind (Borey and Marezh Yumo), etc. There are Gods - patrons of people's activities (The Goddess of land and fertility Demetra and Mlande Ava Yumo), God - patron of blacksmiths (Gefest and Apshat Kuguza), etc.
However, in the images of Gods we've found some differences. We know that Greece, being on the crossing of major sea ways, had huge trade ties with many countries and trade was considered to be one of the most important occupations. So, ancient Greek mythology created the God - patron of Trade called Germes whereas the ancient Maris were an agrarian nation and in their mythology the agrarian Gods (Gods of farming, cattle-breeding, etc. ) prevailed. There was even God - patron of bee-keeping as honey production was an important source of income and condition of well-being among Maris.
It's also known, that Greece participated in numerous war-conflicts. It gave birth to the corresponding Gods - Athena (a woman-warrior) and Ares - the terrible God of war, whereas ancient Maris were a deeply peaceful nation and such Gods didn't exist in their pantheon.
No doubt, ancient Greeks paid much attention to physical beauty of a person, they played different sports, were strong and muscular. They were not ashamed to undress and demonstrate their naked perfect bodies in front of other people. That's why ancient Greeks created the Goddess of Beauty called Aphrodite. Unlike them, ancient Maris paid attention only to people's health. So, we could found only the Mari Goddess of family and childbirth (Shym Shochyn Ava) but no information of any Goddess of Beauty was discovered.
4. The hierarchy of the Gods in both religions has also some similarities. There are Gods of two kinds: main and minor or secondary. The main Gods are divided into upper (who live in the sky) and low ones (who rule the underground realm of the dead). In contrast, the system of Gods' assistants is more widely represented in the Mari religion. Each Mari main God has a protector, an angel and a messenger.
Besides, it should be pointed out that the Mari pantheon had one more peculiarity - the existence of a large number of female gods - Goddesses (Mothers - Ava) and a large number of family or home Goddesses called kuva and kugyza. It can be explained by the fact that women played a leading part in a large Mari family.
5. It is widely known that ancient Greek Gods lived on the Mount called Olympus. The Mari Gods inhabited numerous natural surroundings: they lived in woods, rivers, etc. Only the main God lived in the sky. Although, we could find an idea of a mount in the Mari mythology as well. The sacred place, that connected the sky, the land and the beyond, was a mount called Kuguryk. The ancient Maris also had a notion of a world Tree - onapu, that linked the divine, human and the other worlds.
6. As far as the peculiarities of Gods' lives is concerned, there are more differences than likenesses. The Greek Gods live in luxurious palaces made of gold and precious stones. Their main function is to enjoy themselves and to have a great time at feasts and balls. The Mari Gods lead more simple and utilitarian life. They work together with people, help them in every day activities in the field on the threshing-floor or about the house.
7. The relationships between Gods and peoples in both cases are built on dialogical bases. The Gods protect people but in return demand worship and respect. It usually get the form of sacrifices.
8. In both cultures sacrifices had regular character. The Greek gifted grain, fruits, olive oil. The main products for sacrifices in the Mari rituals were beer, honey, eggs, pancakes. Sometimes, on particularly significant occasions, were sacrificed cows, oxen, ducks, geese. During family holidays the Mari people fed Gods with porridge, meat or fish dishes, eggs, pies. During any ritual some sums of money were also donated. The Maries burnt fires or lit candles so that their sacred words and deeds reached the Gods as quickly as possible.
9. The process of worship included not only gifts and sacrifices but special festivals as well. Both peoples organized religious holidays to glorify their Gods. The holidays could last for a few days and comprised collective praying, ritual meal, entertainment programme. Ancient Greeks arranged sports competitions, e.g. the Olympic Games. Some elements of the sports contests existed in the Mari festivals too (running race during the holiday of a plough called Agavairem).
10. Needless to say, that both cultures had special places for religious cults. But they were different. Ancient Greeks built magnificent temples with columns, altars and statues. The Mari people also had a special place to communicate with Gods. It was a sacred grove. It had a definite structure and the praying there was also carried out in strict order.
11. Ancient Greeks worshiped their Gods in marble and stone, devoted numerous monuments to them. We can enjoy beautiful paintings and sculptures devoted to them in various museums and Picture Galleries.
The Mari people had only a few idols made of wood. They were kept mainly at home or in the sacred grove.
Today has appeared a special trend in the Mari Art called ethno futurism, the representatives of which try to depict the mythological characters.
12. The research, we've conducted, showed that, though the Mari and Greek nations live far away from each other, they possess different geographical and economical way of life, they don't belong to one and the same language family and are not relatives in this sense, they have much in common in the spiritual sphere, in particular, in the field of ancient religious culture.

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