The Gandan Temple - city's main Buddhist center in Ulaanbaator. It was the only monastery that was preserved by the Soviets to show their tolerance of religion. Under Russian occupation approximately 20,000 monks were executed or sent to Siberian prisons.
With the end of communism in the 1990s there has been a resurgence in the Buddhist religion. At the same time our missionaries from other religions are flocking to Mongolia to convert the Mongolian people and build up their religious base. Shamanism and Buddhism are tightly woven into the culture from the time of Genghis Khan.
Along with religion young people from UB are embracing western culture. iPhones, expensive SUVs, designer clothes, and the latest of movies are an attraction for post soviet people growing up with good jobs, money, and the desire to improve their position in life.
From Wikipedia. "Animals have always been regarded in Buddhist thought as sentient beings, different in their intellectual ability than humans but no less capable of feeling suffering. Furthermore, animals possess Buddha nature (according to the Mahāyāna school) and therefore potential for future enlightenment. Moreover, the doctrine of rebirth held that any human could be reborn as an animal, and any animal could be reborn as a human. An animal might be a reborn dead relative, and anybody who looked far enough back through his or her infinite series of lives would eventually perceive every animal to be a distant relative. The Buddha expounded that sentient beings currently living in the animal realm have been our mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, children, friends in past rebirths. One could not, therefore, make a hard distinction between moral rules applicable to animals and those applicable to humans; ultimately humans and animals were part of a single family. They are all interconnected".
These pigeons have a pretty good life...and so do the dogs that find great opportunity with so much free food flying around.
A monk and a tourist at the gate.
White pigeon and the child.
Old and faded. This intricate design is classic.
Close up of prayer wheels
A sea of pigeons and cobblestones.
Feeding the pigeons.
Very tame birds.
Everywhere there are pigeons.
Movement of wings.
They walk around clockwise three times to pray for good luck!
Pigeons rule the monastery!
Young Mongolian girl turning a prayer wheel.
Buddhist Workshop with people from all over the world.
A wily canine taking advantage of the free docile food. He literally plucked this pigeon from the flock with ease!