The Buriat (or Buryat) are closely related to the Mongols, and the two groups share similar histories, cultures, religious beliefs and lifestyles. Most Buriat live in Siberian Russia in the region surrounding Lake Baikal. However, almost 153,000 Buriat can also be found in the vast region of northern China known as Inner Mongolia. This remote area is located where the nations of China, Russia and Mongolia meet. The Buriat in each country speak different languages and are regarded as three different people groups.
The Buriat have two traditional types of marriage: those arranged by parents and those that take place by abduction. In the latter type, the friends and relatives of the prospective groom kidnap the bride with or without her consent. During the wedding ceremony, the bride will traditionally perform a ritual in which she throws small pieces of fat at the chest of her father-in-law. If she has accurate aim, this is taken as a sign of fertility.
Historically, most Buriat believed in shamanism and allowed mediums to control all interactions between the gods and their communities. Today, they follow Lama Buddhism. But while they profess Buddhism, only a small number practice it.
Because they are geographically isolated, the Buriat of China have long been prevented from hearing God’s Word. Only portions of the Bible have been translated into the Buriat language, and neither the Jesus film nor Christian materials are currently available to them. There is an unsubstantiated report that a few Buriat in China have recently accepted Christ as a result of Chinese house church efforts, originating from a revival in a neighboring province.