had changed the program of the trip and first walked the
Mount Kailash kora to be able to join the Sagadawafestival in Tarboche and
afterwards we would go to Lake Mansarovar. Our
Tibetan guide gave us the choice between camping at the
festival area or stay in the guesthouse and go to the
festival area in Tarboche the next morning.
Since most of us found the night during the Mount
Kailash kora extremely cold (minus 15 degrees in a tent), almost everyone
chose for the last. Unfortunately the guide
had forgotten to verify whether there still were rooms
available in the guest house and only found out all
rooms in Darchen were fully booked, so we had no choice
but to prepare us for another very cold night in the tents.
during Sagadawa festival
dressed Tibetan women
Tarboche stands a flag pole which is
brought down every year during the Sagadawa festival,
decorated with a lot of new prayer flags and then being
put in upright position again. During the Sagadawa festival (during
full moon in May) the birth, the enlightment and the death of
the buddha are commemorated. For this
event a lot of
Tibetan pilgrims come to Tarboche.
The gathered pilgrims try to pull the flag pole exactly
straight up. When they are succesfull the coming year
will be prosperous. If the flag pole leans over a little
bit it will be a bad year.
This year the Chinese authorities made it more difficult
for Tibetans to come to Tarboche. The authorities had declared a ban to
travel as a driver's mate or in the back of a truck (The
main means of transport for Tibetans) to Tarboche.
For such an important festival it was therefore pretty
quiet. Nevertheless there were sufficient people to have
a good impression of the festival. First the flag pole
was blessed by a group of a lamas who take place on a hillock
nearby to bless people
and some of their belongings which they brought
over there. For a couple
Nepali friends we also had some white scarves (katas)
being blessed. The decoration of the flag pole with new
prayer flags and efforts to pull the flag pole straight
up just using manpower took several hours. All that time Tibetan
pilgrims were encircling the pole.
between Arno paid a visit to the sky burial place of 84
Mahasiddhas (sort of enlightened people) above Tarboche.
In Tibet it is a good practice to cut the deceased's
body into pieces and to feed the vultures. On this sky
burial site a monk with a gorgeous voice was chanting
mantras. Surrounded by many traditional and modern
dressed Tibetans, who were lying on the ground
(presumably to symbolize the death), the monk performed
his prayers. On this beautiful quiet and high spot, with
beautiful views of the Himalayas it was a very
impressive "show" and many were listening breathlessly.
Nobody said anything, nobody took pictures, but everyone
was fully into the beauty of the moment.
Meanwhile it was snowing and the people still hadn't
managed to put the flagpole upright. Just when we (being
almost frozen) to go, four large groups of Tibetans made
move to pull the flagpole straight up. One support pole
falling on a rope prevented them from succeeding at
once. A few minutes later, the second attempt was
succesful. And coincidence or not, just then it stopped
snowing, the sun broke through and changed the melting
snow in a very mysterious fog. A great spectacle.
Ritual at sky burial place at Tarboche
with "Tibetan nappy"
pole during Sagadawa
Photos of trip to
Kailash and Lake Manasarovar:
this impressive festival, we drove to the Lake Manasovar.
Once there, we had to wait for the truck before being
able to set up the camp. We asked if the jeeps could
bring us to the hot springs in the neighborhood first,
because after one week without washing that seemed very
nice. Arriving at the hot springs we had to wait over
half hour in the wind, cold and snow before we could go
inside, it turned out that the Chinese had channeled the
hot water to little taps just below knee height. Each
small bathroom with a very dirty floor and shoulder
height partitions provided just a little bit of hot
water. The five bathrooms were constructed inside a
concrete building with a glass roof with many broken
windows that let the cold wind and snow coming in. Yet
it was nice to wash your cold and dirty body with a
little hot water. Afterwards we went back to the lake,
where the Nepalese staff had set up the camp under the
Chiu Gompa (monastery Chiu). The cold and wind, together
with large dust clouds forced us to stay inside the
dining tent. After dinner the wind lie down and we could
enjoy the full moon rising above the Lake Manasarovar.
The next morning it was quite clear and we had a lovely
view over the deep blue lake, on the Himalayas and Mount