Khebidya Ya is a sacred part of the relic forest, the most ancient ritual place of the Samoedic peoples. It is considered to have been inherited by the ancestors of the present-day Nenets from the ancient Chud tribes, who once lived in these vast woods.
From the earliest times the Nenets people have considered this forest to be a sacred pagan place, equal in power and greatness to the holy Khessei on Vaygach. Khebidya Ya still has a reputation of a mysterious place, where meet all the time spaces, where there are no distinction between the past and the future, and people travelling on the road along the Kozminsky Grove feel the trees staring at them. Every single tree of Khebidya Ya seems to be a living creature, asking people for some offering, though it were a colorful ribbon, handbell, copper coins or a bottle of alcohol poured right out on the ground.
It is said, that ‘peyurmy’ (thus the Nenets call the Russian woodcutters) have a lot of stories, affirming that when trying to cut down the trees in the sacred forest, the axes got broken, and people lost their eyesight and were out of their mind for a while. These woods were not to be used for building the houses or heating the stoves – otherwise ‘peyurmy’ condemned themselves and their relatives to illness and close death. And as for the Nenets people, who used to go to the holy forest to get wood for making wooden idols (the so-called ‘syadei’), they always cut the trees in the presence of ‘shaman’ (magician), and the ritual of ‘gifting the spirits’ was obligatory when withdrawing a tree from ‘the Khebidya Ya family’. The present-day Kozminsky Grove is a place, where every traveler should leave a present on the branch of the tree.
Irina Khanzerova. The picture of the Nenets People Association ‘Yasavey’