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Russia's Kamchatka celebrates Day of Bear

November 05, 2017, 12:34 UTC+3 PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY

The Day of Bear in Kamchatka has been celebrated since 2015

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© Yury Smityuk/TASS

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, November 5. /TASS/. Kamchatka’s Bystrinsky district on Sunday celebrated the Day of Bear. Most locals are Evenks - the North’s indigenous people, head of the Menedek ethnic-cultural center Lilia Banakanova told TASS.

"We have been organizing the Day of Bear in Kamchatka since 2015," she said. "The celebration resumed after almost half-a-century break of this tradition."

"As far as I know, Kamchatka is now the only region in Russia, which celebrates the Day of Bear - the old holiday of the Tungus ethnic group," she continued, adding not only the Evenks used to mark this day - many indigenous people had similar holidays. The modern celebration, however, differs greatly from the old traditions.

"Nowadays, we apply a different meaning to the holiday, than it used to be in the far-away past. First of all, we stress the manifestation of strength and agility, though we have tried to keep the traditional ceremonies," she said. Presently, the celebration takes one day, not three as it was formerly, and it features all the people at a time - regardless of sex or age. Traditionally, children used to be invited to tables on the second day, and women - on the third. Besides, there is no hunting bears any longer, while only in the mid-20th century it was an obligatory element.

Legend about the Bear

Bear are ancestors of everyone living on the Earth; the ancient Evenks believed and worshipped the predator, as a divinity. The ancient people said they were celebrating the Day of Bear as the Bear had ordered them to do, and the Bear also had announced rules of hunting bears, the specialist said.

"The story is the following: once two sisters went to guard a herd of deer. A snowstorm broke out, and one of the sisters fell into a bear den. She spent there the winter, and in spring the bear brought her to the people, and a certain time later the girl bore a child and a little bear, whom her mother took to bring up. As the boy grew up, it called his brother-bear to compete in force and won. The bear, as the life was leaving him, gave to the brother and every Evenk rules of hunting bears," she said.

The Evenks still observe some of those rules. For example, a hunter must treat his folks and neighbors with the hunted bear’s meat - or the luck would abandon him for good.

Traditions of the ancestors

In the old times, the Day of Bear had a few parts: the process of hunting, cooking, eating, sacred rituals with the bear remains. Nowadays, the most breathtaking part is the tradition of hunting, which the holiday organizers have restored from stories of the old. Besides, the holiday features the rites of purification, thanksgiving. The celebration’s key event is the contest between men in strength and agility.

The indigenous peoples in Kamchatka and the local authorities have resumed traditions of celebrating a few traditional holidays. Those arte the Day of Reindeer Herder, Day of First Fish, Day of Marine Animal, the Evenks’ New Year, and the competitions in the Northern All-Around.

Kamchatka’s biggest predator

The Kamchatka bear is the biggest brown bear in Russia. About 15% of the country’s bears and five percent of the world’s bears live on the peninsula. The male bear’s weight could be 600kg; the average weight is 350-400kg. The adult male has a body of more than two meters.

Kamchatka’s forestry says they counted bears from the aviation in 2015 and report about 21,000 animals living in the region. In the wild nature, the predators live for 25-35 years.

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