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Tag: Ladakh

Insights into the Stok Guru Tsechu monastic festival by Tashi

stok oracle

04 March 2016

Stok Guru Tsechu is a very unique monastic festival that takes place in the sacred land of Ladakh. Apart from the famous mask dance, its highlight is the awaited oracles’ prediction for the coming year. Guru Rinpoche’s birthday and the Winter Festival The Stok Guru Tsechu Festival is held in the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, the holy prayer month. It is celebrated in accordance with Guru Rinpoche’s (Padmasambhava) birthday which falls on the 9th and 10th day of the first Tibetan month.Next year 2017,winter Shamanic festival will be held on 6th to 7th March 2017 and 24th and 25th February in the year 2018. Stok village, where the festival takes place, offers the great view down the valley on the mighty Indus river and the majestic snow-capped Stok Kangri Mountain (6,153m above sea level). Every now and then one gets easily delighted by the festive vibes that the locals emanate in their colourful attire. The day of spiritual gathering and meeting of spiritual masters The monasteries have served as a source of spiritual tutelage in Ladakh for hundreds of years. Every Ladakhi monastery stores centuries-old Buddhist scripts: kagyur (108 texts of Buddhist canons) and tengyur (235 commentaries texts). Monks and nuns residing in monasteries are taught, guided and looked after by an incarnated lama, the head of the monastery. The festival is a platform where villagers take the opportunity to serve their spiritual masters and the monastery in its turn entertains its long-bearing benefactors through a colourful Cham or mask dance. The villagers are introduced to different manifestations of Tantric Buddhas through the means of religious dance performed by the monks who are in turn disguised in sacred costumes, ornaments and huge masks resembling different Buddhas. Cham dance of Laughing Buddha, Mahakala and more Once all the preparations have been done, the series of cham begins. In the morning session starts with the dance of Hashang and Hathuk. Hashang has a bald head, pot belly and a big smile on his face, and he is escorted by his twelve children that all look like him. Hashang or the Laughing Buddha in China is considered the main benefactor of all the Buddhas who will descend to earth to preach the Dharma. The dance of Hashang is followed by the dance of Mahakala, the wrathful form of Buddha of Compassion, who wears a fierce mask topped with skulls. Then, Namse […]

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34th Kalachakra – 2017 by Sangmo

Kalachakra 2017

06 January 2016

Omalaya Travel is happy to offer its customized Kalachakra tours to India to the devotees wishing to attend the precious Kalachakra 2017 Empowerment teaching. Omalaya-designed spiritual journeys are rooted in individual’s quest for self discovery and we incorporate the same outlook in designing the Kalachakra 2017 tour package. Omalaya Travel operated a successful Kalachakra tour to Ladakh in 2014. Omalaya-led devotees can receive Kalachakra initiation, teaching & empowerment under the expert guidance of tour’s spiritual guides like Geshe Tsering with Dr Chok and Geshe Lobsang with Tulku Phuljung. 34th Kalachakra is  confirmed and is set to take place at Bodh Gaya from 3rd to 14th january 2017. This will be the 34th Kalachakra initiation and the fifth one to take place in Bodh Gaya, India, the mecca of Buddhist where Lord Buddha attained unsurpassed enlightenment under the sacred bodhi tree. This good news makes up for the cancellation of the Kalachakra scheduled for 2016. The previous Kalachakra initiation was held in July 2014 at Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir state of India that saw more than 300,000 devotees throng in from all over the world. Kalachakra 2017 will be the next major teaching/initiation by H.H the XIV Dalai Lama after successfully bestowing the Jangchup Lamrim – 18 treatises of the stages of the  Path to Englightenment that took place at Bylakuppe, Tibetan Settlement in Karnataka from Dec 20 to Jan 1 2016. Omalaya travel is delighted to offer its customized service to the devotees wishing to attend the Kalachakra initiation 2017. Our goal is to design the tour in a way that optimizes your spiritual journey and blessing. Click here to view the Omalaya Travel blueprint for the Kalachakra 2017. You may also read our article on 10 Tips for pilgrims to Bodh gaya here.

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The Rock Roof Temple of Ladakh by Stéphanie

Rock Roof Temple in Ladakh

22 August 2015

Thakthok Monastery Thakthok Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located near Shakti village, 46km east of Leh. The name ‘Thakthok’ means ‘rock roof’ and both the monastery’s roof and walls are built from rock. Thakthok is the only Nyingma monastery in Ladakh and is home to around 55 lamas. It was founded around the mid-16th century during the reign of Tshewang Namgyal, on a mountainside around a cave in which Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the eighth century. Every year, on the ninth and tenth day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar,celebrations including sacred dances are held at the monastery.   ‘To Earth’, a poem written by our Enlish-language editor Matthew Singh-Toor (Meditation whilst sitting on a wall opposite the Rinpoche’s residence At Thakthok Monastery)   Three boxes, Rectangular, Side by side, The middle box shorter, No divide. (The Rinpoche within Nods). * Three boxes, Uniform Against rock. Rock chaotic, Strata diagonal. Hewn and polished Spliced and eroded, Fissured and curved, Corners rounded.   (The Rinpoche within Muses on A line of scripture). * Four windows Cross-barred black, Grimy, Reflecting grey In heavy wooden frames. Maroon frames, Black borders, Thick paint On the whitewashed façade Of dripped plaster. Discoloured.   (The Rinpoche within Presses his fingertips together). * Five prayer flags, Yellow, green, red, white, blue, Against rock, lichen-rusted And the vast blue sky, Deep and flat and even, Ready to engulf.   (The Rinpoche within Listens). * Five creatures, Moo, chirp, buzz, bark, coo. Flutter of wings, flags, polythene against broken window. Shush and hush of breeze. Roar and honk, approaching, receding.   (The Rinpoche within Murmurs). My eyelids droop closed. * Fingertips graze rough plaster, Skimming chalky over sun-warmed distemper. Palms grow gargantuan to cup rounded corners. Eyelashes flutter over prayer flags, Flutter-tickled in return.   (The Rinpoche within Looks down from the window) * To earth, sand and scrub, Rock chipped, shattered, Shards scattered. I revive in the dust, Prostrate.   (The Rinpoche within Sees everything).

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An interview with a Ladakhi writer Nawang Tsering Shakspo by Stéphanie

Nawang Tsering Shakspo

05 August 2015

‘The Solitarian Guest House and the Father of Saboo’ Known locally as Abley, or ‘Father’, Nawang Tsering Shakspo is an Omalaya’s partner and the proprietor of the Solitarian Guest House in the village of Saboo ‒ one of the accommodations Omalaya uses on its Ladakh tours. Nawang worked for years with the Jammu and Kashmir government and is an expert on Ladakhi history and culture, as well as being a highly respected member of the community. Here, he talks to Matthew Singh Toor, Omalaya’s English-language editor, about his life, as well as providing an introduction to Saboo, which is located around 7km from Leh. Matthew Singh Toor: Where were you born? Nawang Tsering Shakspo:  In upper Leh, in a village called Sankar. The monastery there used to be the residential palace of Bakula Rinpoche, who is considered the founder of modern Ladakh. MST: Tell me about your education. NTS: I was born in the year 1952 and in the year 1959 I was selected for one of the Government of India scholarships. Otherwise, I was to visit Tibet and become a lama. In the year 1959, China occupied Tibet. Prior to that, there was a tradition ‒ the young go to Tibet for education and to become lamas. So, I was to become a lama but, since that road was closed, around the same time, upon the request of Bakula Rinpoche, the Government of India’s Ministry of Culture sanctioned 16 scholarships for 16 Ladakhis. I was selected for one of them. At the time, I was only seven years old. In those days, there wasn’t any road to Srinagar but Indian Airlines was operating a quota aircraft ‒ a small one. The scholarship was in Varanasi . The route to Varanasi goes via Srinagar. So we availed the chance to travel by air to Srinagar. Then from Srinagar to Jammu, Pathankot and Varanasi. I remained in Varanasi almost continuously for four years. I couldn’t come to home because there wasn’t any road. MST: What was the name of the institution? NTS: The Maha Bodhi Society. This is one of the most prestigious Buddhist institutions even now in the country. We were given accommodation there. I remained there till the completion of my intermediate level education, after 15 years in Varanasi. Then I did my BA course, then one year postgraduate in journalism at Varanasi Hindu University. After that, I returned […]

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A joy of 6th July Birthday of Dalai lama-Trungkar in Ladakh by Stéphanie

Tibetan girl in traditional dress for the birthday of HH

30 June 2015

 Trungkar is the Tibetan word for ‘Dalai lama ‘s birthday’ and this year marks the 80th Trungkar of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – celebrated on June 21, according to the Tibetan calendar, and July 6, according to the Western calendar. On July 6, the whole of Ladakh, where the Dalai Lama is revered and respected by Ladakhis and Tibetans alike, will be in festive mood. The Trungkar will be celebrated at the Jivey Tsal (Peace Garden), at His Holiness’ residence in Choglamsar, around 7km from Leh. Preparations will begin on July 5, with families and larger groups setting up around 100 tents and reserving areas for stalls, which will be filled with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, now available after the long, dry winter. The Trungkar will begin at the Jivey Tsal’s main temple at around 8am, with a long-life prayer for His Holiness and an incense-burning offering. The official function will be launched at 9am by the Chief Representative Officer, Sonamling Tibetan Settlement of Leh, Ladakh. All government and NGO officials of local and Tibetan bodies will be invited to the occasion. The programme will include speeches from invited dignitaries and traditional dances performed by Tibetans and locals alike, marking their mutual respect and friendship. After the function, the crowd will relax and enjoy picnics with family and friends. Food and drink will be available from stalls at the site. As well as local Ladakhis and residents of Sonamling Tibetan Settlement, the Trungkar is always attended by students and children who travel home from every corner of India and also from abroad. Reunions of long-lost friends are a common sight at the event. As the day progresses and the heat subsides, people will begin to sing and dance in and around their tents. Youngsters will enjoy modern English, Ladakhi and Hindi songs, whilst elders will join together for the Gorshae (traditional folk dances) of Tibet’s various regions. There will also be performances by the bands of the Indian Army Special Frontier Forces’ Vikas regiment and Ladakh Scouts, continuing until dusk. By the time people pack away their tents, they will be already looking forward to the next Trungkar, and dreaming that it might be celebrated in Tibet.

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Guide to the great Monkey year teaching 2016-ladakh by Gokul

Monkey year teaching

26 May 2015

The Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism has a spiritual  tradition where each monk year in Tibetan lunar  calendar is make by grand teaching attended by hundred of people and The Great Drikung Phowa (Transferance of Consciousness) teaching by H.H Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche is well known through out Tibet,ladakh,Himalaya and beyond. The next year, according to Tibetan lunar calendar, is dedicated to the monkey. In August 2016, an intense teaching programme has been planned to mark the Monkey year.  The Monkey year teachings are dedicated to the sacred place of Tsari, an important meditation center for the Drikung Kagyu order. It is also believed that Guru Padmasambhava, a revered Buddhist God, appeared here seated on the blossom of a lotus flower. His appearance happened in the seventh month of the monkey year of the Tibetan Lunar calendar. The teaching is also held in memory of the birth anniversary of Lord Jigetn Sumgaon, the founder of the Drikung Kagyu tradition.  From Aug 5 to Aug 12, 2016, the Shachukul Monastery Teaching Committe will organize the teachings in order to commomerate the Monkey year. Conducted by H.H Drikung Skyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, the teachings will be held at the Shachkul monastery in Ladakh, India. It is only the second time that the teaching is held here. A large number of devotees and high Lamas of the Drikung Kagyu lineage are expected to attend the teachings. Below is the detailed teaching schedule: August 5: Inauguration ceremony; Ritual consecration of the newly made silk borcade Thangka August 6: Birthday celebration of H.H Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche; Teaching and Empowerment of Buddha Shakyamuni August 7: ‘Go Green Go Organic’ Project Committee’s programme and cultural show August 8 – 10: The Drikung Great Bodhichitta (The mindset of full awakening) teaching and transmission August 11: The Great Drikung Phowa (Transferance of Consciousness) teaching August 12: Empowerment of Guru Padma Lingpa; Long life offering to H.H Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche We will  be organising special tour to attend the great monkey year teaching in Shachukul near Pangong lake, ladakh and write to us at info@omalayatravel.com

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