Since ancient times Mongolians worshipped shamanism in which the souls of the deceased are accepted as gods, hence there is no monotheistic concept. In Northern Mongolia, the ethnic Tsaatans still practice shamanism, to this day. The “boo” or “udgan” (male or female shaman) gets spiritually linked with the souls of the ancestors and act as the messengers of the gods.
Mongolians respect and tolerate people with different religious beliefs. Buddhist, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucian thoughts have become known to nomads of Mongolia over the last millennium, and existed alongside shamanism for a very long time.
The Buddhism has about 2000 years of history in the spirits of nomads. In the 16th century the Tibetan Buddhism was practiced strongly, becoming mixed with nomadic customs and elements of shamanism.
Communist domination existed from 1921 to 1990 and ruled the lives of three generations. Their regime led Mongolians to an almost totally atheist nation by the end of the 20th century. Following the downfall of the Communism, Buddhist beliefs have been revived, with Christianity beginning to spread in Mongolia.
One custom of worship from Shamanist times, which couldn’t be exterminated by Buddhism or Marxism, is the “Ovoo” or cairn worshipping. It is the custom of nomads to worship mountains, water and nature by expressing their respects in the form of heaped up stones and wood. These Ovoos are worshipped all year and there is no Mongolian who will pass it without paying respects by circling it three times, making a wish and tossing one more stone at the Ovoo as an offering.
Other Shamanic practices widely applied to this day include tying of a khadag (blue silk scarf) to any object deemed sacred, regardless of its association, even to monuments.