For people from the city it is a nice ritual and for the village people it is what they do every day, going to the banja. As on the countryside you can hardly find a bathroom in the house, there are banjas in nearly every garden. If you walk through a village in the evening, you can see everywhere the small houses where smoke is coming out of the chimney. The nicest experience with a banja we had at Ilfat and Julias place. In Russia, men don't go together with the women to the banja, only if they are from the same family. Ilfat told us, that often he goes to the banja together with his male friends and for refreshing they enjoy as well one or another beer.
To be honest, it is pretty simple. In an anteroom you take off the cloths and then you go to the main room, where a steel oven equipped with stones, has been fired in some hours before. Everyone now gets a bucket, where he can take some hot and cold water to get a warm mixture. Some of the water now gets poured over the stones, so that vapour gets in the air. Often herbs or dry birch trenches get laid on the stones. The room now is filled with vapour and sitting on a bench, you start sweating. The temperature is around 100 degrees Celsius, but some men prefer it hotter. To keep the head cool, you can put on a bowler hat.
Now and then fresh water gets poured over the stones and after having consumed all the water, you go back to the anteroom, to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. Then the procedure gets repeated. After all the pores of the body are open and clean, you get a huge scoop, with which you pure water over you and with soap you clean your body.
After having spent some hours in the banja, you not only feel clean from outside your body, as well inside you feel clean and happy.
We became close friends of the banja and we know, if we will ever have a house, we will as well build one in our garden.