This week in on online class we sing our version of “Jangar,” a celebration of the Oirat/Kalmyk epic tale of Jangar the great warrior. The Kalmyks are the only group of people in Europe’s that are of Mongolian-ancestried, primarily Buddhist people. They originated as one of the ancient Oirat peoples of Western Mongolia, moving westward in the 17th century to avoid conflict with the Chinese/Eastern Mongolians. Unfortunately they ran into the eastwardly expanding Russian empire. While in the 18th century some tried to return to Mongolia, most stayed in Russia, constantly struggling to maintain their language, culture and religion, and eventually suffering terribly in the ‘40s and ‘50 when Stalin forced migration to Siberia. Most Kalmyks returned to Russia in the late ‘50, and today the Russian republic of Kalmykia is the only majority-Buddhist region of Europe.