Monday, July 25, 2016

Dancing with the Shamans

Hinduism, Animism and Buddhism are the major religions practised in Nepal. Regardless of their religion, however, the majority of people turn to the Dhami/Jhankri (shamans) for help. The people seek a shaman’s help for physical and emotional healings as well as relying on them to protect their animals and crops from natural calamities. The Nepali concept of health is quite different from that found in other parts of the world. A health issue is not just something that has gone wrong with an individual but can also include difficulties with their relationships with their families, communities and universe.

Nepali shamanism is based on an animistic belief that honours Mother earth and respects the spirit that resides in all living beings. This universal worldview is key in preserving the ecology of the land and in bringing harmony and creating healthy alliances with to all things visible and invisible. The role of the Dhami/Jhankri (Shaman) is to reestablish this harmony. Shamans are the central figures in their communities for they are not only healers but also the storytellers, dancers, singers, artists and musicians. They acquire these talents, their spiritual power and wisdom through their personal helping spirits, ancestral deities, elemental spirits and guides. They accomplish their work by voluntarily modifying their state of consciousness in order to perceive what aspects of the person, family or community require re-balancing.

Festival in Nepal related to Himalayan Shamans –
1. Full moon in May sending the deities to Kailash in Tibet.
2. Full Moon in August (Janai Purnima) pilgrimage to Shiva and Kali shrines such as in Gosaikunda and Kalinchok for 10 days.
3. Full moon in November.
4. Maghi Purnima or Makar Sangranti

Our trek ‘ Dancing with the Shamans’ takes us to the most famous of the festivals that is held at a sacred lake dedicated to Lord Shiva in Gosaikunda. This ten day trek will give you an opportunity to observe from close quarters the religious belief and practice of the Shamans.

Thousands of people congregate on this high alpine lake at about 4300mts to pay due respect to the shamans and renew their faith with centuries old practices and beliefs. Both Gosaikunda Lake and the August full moon are revered by Hindus and local Shamans alike so there is plenty to see at this time of the year.  Hindus come to the Lake to bathe away their sins on the date of Janai Purnima, the day they traditionally change the sacred thread (Janai) that is worn around the neck or hand all year.  The local Tamang shamans on the other hand come here to dance, bang dhyangro drums and perform sacred rituals around the lake. The large rock in the center of the lake is believed to be the head of lord Shiva. Shamans ("Dhami or Jhankri") are called Bon-Po in Tamang language, a different pre-Buddhist sect, and come from all over Nepal to the lake, to be there on full moon night. Shamans perform spiritual dancing and singing during the ceremony and this day is considered holy by the shamans, whereby apprentices or "junior Jhankris" obtain graduation from their masters or senior shamans.

The main focus of this trek is the cultural aspect of the shamans and their rituals but on the other side this trip also offers you a great trek into some of the most beautiful areas of the Langtang region. High alpine meadows, glacial lakes and snow clad high peaks are a common sight during your 10 days trek. On the way you will come across various ethnic groups: Brahmins and Chettris from the low hills to Tamangs and Bhotiyas of the Tibeto-Burmese stock in the highlands. This will give you a real insight into the cultural and religious diversity of Nepal.

If you like to get into real depth of the festival, please book here NOW


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