Fertility goddess attracts thousands to Lake Baikal
They believe in the powers of a stone goddess of wisdom who is a patron for mothers.
Many seek her wisdom, but she never utters a word. Hundreds come to be blessed with children, but she does not work in any clinic. She is the goddess Yanzhima, and it is not just the local Buryat people who are drawn.
“I was here last year, and I have always kept remembering the goddess. This year I came to pray here with my sister and a friend. This place is special, you could say it is closer to the cosmos,” says one of the visitors, Galina Shobogorova.
Yanzhima’s image is said to be found in the rocks on the Baikal shore. Many come there to pay homage, but it is said that each has a unique perspective.
“She is always seen differently. To some, she is dancing; to others, playing a guitar. Some see her in a car or on a horse. Some see a tiger, which is a keeper of Buddhism. Some don’t see her immediately – this means they have to walk more circles around the mountain, the more the better. Then they’ll see her,” explains novice Bair.
Though the spot is said to be sacred in general, those who come to the place say that it has one very special and specific power.
“I came here to pray. Yanzhima is a very strong goddess; she helps all people and children. She helps childless women to have children,” believes local resident Galina Sanzhieva.
Natalia Solominskaya was an accomplished professional athlete, but what she wanted more than anything was to have a child.
“Professional sport is not good for your health because of stressful training, long marathons, and medicines. My body was exhausted. In 1997, I was diagnosed with a tumor and had a kidney removed. I told the doctor I wanted another child. We did everything possible for me to have more children, but it wasn’t a possibility,” she recalls.
While visiting her parents, neighbors suggested she pay visit Yanzhima. Though skeptical, Natalia made the journey.
“So I just walked over and silently asked: I have everything in my life, all I am asking for is a child,” Natalia said. “I didn’t even care whether it would be a boy or a girl. In a week, we returned to my parents’ home. And we went to that place again. And just one week later, I got pregnant.”
Even though she is in her mid-forties, Natalia gave birth and is now the proud mother of a healthy four-year-old daughter. Today she directs other would-be mothers down the same path.
“Another woman, whom I met by chance, was married twice and had no kids. She is a wealthy businesswoman. She has looked for help everywhere. But she had a baby at 41 after having visited that place. There are many examples. So it’s true that [Yanzhima] helps to have children,” Natalia cites another example.
Doctors, of course, have other ideas – but in the absence of a better explanation for the baby boom, Yanzhima’s mountain will continue to bring mothers-to-be in search of a family.