This ancient ritual has been performed since forever. When a baby cries without any cause especially during dusk it’s believed that whatever they have seen or experienced during the day comes back to keep scaring them. If you don’t do the ritual, the baby usually keeps crying throughout the night and no amount of comforting soothes them. It’s believed that until the age of 3, babies are able to see a lot of things that we can’t. Some good and some bad. Also because the concept of dream and reality is often mixed up and causes a lot of fear.
In other cultures it’s termed as night terrors and is written that they would usually go away by the age of 9. It’s described as sudden crying and screaming at night without the baby being fully awake.
Yeah, this method of treating “night terrors” is a very Mongolian thing, and it’s really not even about being religious or not, it’s just an ancient remedy that’s been passed down through the generations like a lot of other folklore traditions, so much so that people like me just do it for the sake of it.
As a mom, you’ve taken and tried all the necessary action to calm down your screaming baby. Nothing works. Whether it’s hunger, gas, wet diaper, overttiredness, undertiredness, illness etc., so what do you do when you know that there are other things that can be done…even though it’s really sort of absurd if you think about it in a very skeptical logical and objective perspective. But hey, sometimes it really does work at least it did for me and a lot of other mothers. Maybe it’s just all in our heads and everything is a coincidence, maybe not.
Sometimes when my toddler keeps crying at night like every 2 hours or so and when I know that nothing is wrong with him and he’s usually a good sleeper, I do this ritual the next night right before he sleeps.
There are many different alternatives to this ritual depending on the ethnicity and region of Mongolia. But the most common one is the melting of the candle:
-Take a bit of candle wax onto a metal spoon (people used to melt lead or tin)
-Heat it up so that the wax melts
-Pour the melted wax into a bowl of cold water, while the baby watches (Usually a buddhist prayer is chanted)
-Wait as it takes form (like 2-3 seconds)
-Take the figure and crumple it up (make sure that the baby is seeing this process). Symbolizing that it will no longer scare the baby now. Some people wrap up the wax figure and put it under the baby’s pillow for 3 nights and then throw it out. Some hang it above the crib. Whichever you want to believe or whichever method you’ve been taught from your ancestors.
Wow huh? Here are some interesting photos I’ve found on Facebook posts that people shared, usually it’s certain toys or trinkets that scared the baby.
For my son, I can’t recall the number of times I’ve done this but the most recent one a figure of a skull came out. Turns out he got scared from the skull patterns on our nanny’s pants (rock n roll much?)
This ritual among many others have been derived from Buddhist and shamanic traditions, and during the candle melting process the incantations of the God Sosorbaram is usually chanted. Buddhism and shamanism is very intertwined with the daily lives of Mongolians today, whether they have chosen to be under this religion or it’s become a compulsory part of that person’s circle of family and friends.
I sometimes wonder what about all the other cultures that don’t do this when their babies cry without reason at night? What do they do? Is there any sort of similar folk rituals that are done in other religions too?