Spending Winter with Kazakhstan’s Shaman
Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam, highly denounced by the mainstream Islam for its’ unorthodox approach. By focusing more on esoteric aspects of religious life, they are striving to purify oneself and obtain direct and personal experience of god.
In Kazakhstan, the vibrant history of the region has created a unique alloy of Islam with animistic beliefs of nomadic Mongol cultures and east Russian shamanic traditions. Before the Islam emerged, baksy were traditional Kazak shamans who played a role of healers in tribal societies. They were believed to have super-natural powers to heal men as well as to give guidance with their prophetic insights.
Under the islamic influence a big part of baksy have converted themselves into muslims and were continuing their practices as sufis. Others were forced to pledge into remote regions of the countries as they were persecuted and seen as sorcerers.
I had a chance to spend a winter with Bifatima Dualetova, who is considered to be one of the last Sufi Dervishes in Kazakhstan.