Let’s not waste a fortune on fat

By B.DULGUUN


Mongolians have celebrated the New Year for over a week, seeing as the ministries and government agencies all around the country have locked down their doors, they must still be in the festive convivial.
With the New Year crisis still at hand, Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year) is creeping on its way. How will the people cope financially with two huge celebrations packed tightly together when a third of the population lives under poverty despite the nation’s “big” developments?
Mongolians are known for their outlandish hospitality. Thus, they would do whatever it takes to celebrate it as grandly as possible even if it means falling deeply into the pits of debt.
To top it off, salesmen and traders increase the price of food and groceries to use this opportunity to the fullest. This is pure fact. If you are uncertain, please take a stroll around the market and compare last week’s meat, flour and dairy product prices with today’s, with your own eyes.
The bargain price of a sheep rump, the hind part of the animal, which is placed at the center of a feast during the Lunar New Year is 450,000 MNT. A kilogram of beefhind is between 8,000 to 10,000 MNT which is said to be “affordable.”
Last week, the banks and non-banking financial institutions were jam packed with retired elders queuing for not only an advance on their pension but also loans. There were two women talking about having to receive three and five month’s pension in advance for the preparations for Tsagaan Sar. For rump with big hinds and plentiful fat costing approximately 450,000 MNT, it seems that this year’s Tsagaan Sar cannot be done without loans. Furthermore, the price of ingredients for the rest of the dishes for the “wonderful”event are yet to rise.
Tsagaan Sar is one of the most important events that has become a tradition after being celebrated for centuries. Personally, I’m not against celebrating the occasion, but is it really necessary to put a rump and beef hind, which is mostly used for decorative purposes, on the table and not use it as a part of the practical feast? Nowadays, it is rare to see a person cut a piece off the fatty parts of the rump to taste as they sit down to receive the offered refreshments, though elders do taste a piece or two for formality. After the celebration, the fat rots and it is not only hard to eat but also hard not to eat since they’ve paid a fortune for it. So is it really necessary to spend half a million MNT on pure fat?
There are approximately 730 thousand households in Mongolia and if we say that a third of them will buy a rump (no official statistics are available), then for one celebration, we will have to slaughter around 250 thousand sheep. And if we crunch up the numbers (250,000 times 500,000), Mongolians will have spent 125 billion MNT (roughly 77 million USD) for sheep hinds as a nation.
Most rumps left at room temperature are quick to rot and soon after the festival is over, it is not unusual to see it lying on a dog’s plate.
There are plenty of other ways to celebrate Tsagaan Sar, and placing a fat sheep behind doesn’t improve the quality of the feast. A better alternatives to a feast are a dime a dozen, and anyone can get creative with it.
In my opinion, festivals and celebrations weren’t meant to make you lose your head in calculations and financial headaches. The whole point is to take time to reflect on our accomplishments and make resolutions and plans for the upcoming lunar year.
I want to urge Mongolians to let go of this overpriced and impractical tradition of placing a fat hind on the feast table for vanity’s sake, and spend the money on something more productive. The parliament has issued a decree for an official three-day state holiday, but the new year celebration was only given a day and yet it had went on for a week. A whole week of a nation’s labor cannot be made up easily. The actual cost combined with the potential cost of celebrations have never been determined, and undoubtedly it will shock everyone. If this mindless spending celebration continues any longer, I doubt that Mongolia as a nation will ever dig itself out of debt.

Source:UB Post
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