RELIGION IN MONGOLIA
Around 80% of Mongolians are Buddhist, 5% follow Islam (mainly Kazakhs living in Bayan Olgii province), 5% of Mongolians are Christians and small population of Mongolia believes in Shamanism. Actually, Mongolians are pretty spiritual people.
In 1578, the Tibetan monk Sonam Gyatso, recognized as a reincarnation of Khubilai, received the title Dalai Lama by the Mongol Altan Khan. This was the date of the recon version of Mongolia to Tibetan Buddhism. Mongolia used to be the second, after Tibet, stronghold of Buddhist religion. In the turn of 20th century each and every family was obliged to send on of their children to a monastery to become a monk. By the beginning of the 20th century, Mongolia had more thant 750 monasteries and temple complexes and Buddhism has penetrated deeply into Mongolian culture. In 1930, the power of the Buddhism temple had to face to the Soviet Party in a political struggle. The monasteries were closed and the Buddhism temple removed from public administration. In 1970, the Gandan Monastery in Ulaanbaatar was opened with 100 monks it was the only one functioning monastery in the country. Erdene Zuu, which has been a museum since 1941, has been re-opened to service since 1991. Other monasteries serve as museums and tourist attractions. After the 1990 overthrow of communism, there has been a resurgence of Buddhism in Mongolia with about 200 temples now in existence and a monastic sangha of around 300 to 500 Mongolian monks and nuns. Nowadays Mongolia offers foreign visitors a glimpse into Tibetan Buddhism that can hardly be observed elsewhere.
Throughout Mongolia’s history most steppe and taiga tribes believed in the spirit world as their shamans described it to them. Mongolian Shamanism is an all-encompassing system of belief that includes medicine, religion, a cult of nature, and a cult of ancestor worship. Central to the system were the activities of male and female intercessors between the human world and the spirit world, shamans (bӧӧ) and shamanesses(udgan). There were not the only ones to communicate with the spirit world: nobles and clan leaders also performed spiritual functions, as did commoners, though the hierarchy of Mongolian clan-based society was reflected in the manner of worship as well.
In Mongolia, today there is a significant minority of Sunni Muslims, most of them ethnic Kazakhs, who live primarily in Bayan-Ulgii. Because of its great isolation and distance from the major Islamic centers of the Middle East, Islam has never been a major force in Bayan-Ulgii. However, most villages have a mosque and contacts have been established with Islamic groups in Turkey. In addition, a number of small Khazakh communities can be found I various cities and towns spread throughout the country.
Most Christians in Mongolia became Christian after the end of Mongolian communism in 1990. In Mongolia, there are an estimated 65 000 Christians and more than 150 churches. Nestorianism was the first form of Christianity to be proselytized among the Mongols, in the 7th century, and several Mongol tribes became primarily Christian. During the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Great Khans, though mostly Shamanist and Buddhist, were religiously tolerant toward the Nestorian Christians, Muslims, and Manichaeans. Many of the khans had Nestorian Christian wives from the Kerait clan, who were extremely influential in the Mongol court. During the rule of Mungke Khan, Christianity was the primary religious influence. After the breakup of the Mongol Empire in the 14th century, Nestorian Christianity nearly disappeared from the region.