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Europe's last Pagans
13 FEBRUARY 2012 145 587
In ancient times, people of most ethnic groups used to pray like the Mari El Pagans do to this day. These people are so loyal to their gods that their belief survived both the Christian expansion and the ban on all religions during Soviet times. Their ceremonies resemble scenes from Hogwarts, but their religious leader looks nothing like Alan Rickman. Meet Europe's last pagans on RTDoc.
They worship Mother Fire and tie token ribbons on birch branches at the "place of the rising sun". The small indigenous community inherited their exotic traditions and colorful customs from numerous peoples that once inhabited China and Mongolia. There are only 2,500 of them left. Meet the Telengits on RTDoc.
Travel to the sea of Okhotsk to visit the islands where a human population of just seven live cheek by jowl with 200 bears. Meet the killer whales and brave a climate so severe that icebergs linger through the summer and September sees the first snows.
The Chukchi, an indigenous population in Russia's far northeast, have hunted marine mammals for centuries. RTD travels to the largest ethnic settlement of Chukotka to meet the whale hunters. They learn what it takes to land a big catch and why their job is crucial to the survival of their community.