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Europe’s Last Pagans


The worshippers gathering here now are thought to be Europe’s last pagans.

Yevgeny Kamenshchikov and his family are about to set out on a journey, one that’s been a thousand years in the making. Many others living in this republic will do the same — just as their ancestors have done over the centuries.

Yevgeny and his wife Vera live in a small village called Ivan-Sola. It is in the Mari El Republic about eight hundred kilometers east of Moscow.

The Mari live in Russia and are of Finno-Ugric origin. There are two main groups —lowlanders and highlanders. Although both believe they belong to the same ethnic group, they speak different languages and live in different regions of the republic.

Russian Roamers

These people spend most of their lives behind desks in the city. Eventually the monotony is too much, and they decide to take a trip to get away from it all. Dozens of like-minded folk find one another through an internet site. Calling themselves The Roamers, they explore their land and study its history.

This adventure will take the traveling local historians to the most mysterious places in the Mari El Republic. 


“The Mari, a people of roughly half a million, are said to be Europe’s last pagans.

The Mari—the last Pagans of Europe.

Mari historian Eric Yuzykain joins the nomads on the freeway as they leave the city. He has promised to show them the most fascinating routes on the map. This is a link.

The Mari, a people of roughly half a million, are said to be Europe’s last pagans. They are considered to come in Volga area from Eastern Europe some thousands years ago. The Mari faith traditionally knows no written scriptures and no sacred edifices, “Nature is our temple”. To get the gods help Mari people do their prayers in sacred groves, where some feasts include the ritual slaughter of animals as sacrifice. In Mari-El, the Mari Traditional Religion is recognized as one of three traditional faiths, along with Christianity and Islam. Indeed, unnoticed by much of the outside world, the Mari faith has made a remarkable recovery since the end of Soviet Union.

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