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Himalayan Mountain Cults- Sailung Kalingchok Gosainkund (Terrtorial Rituals and Tamang Histories)

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Item Code: UAO412
Author: Gabriele Tautscher
Publisher: Vajra Publications, Nepal
Language: English
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 9789994678877
Pages: 204 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Cover: PAPERBACK
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 580 gm
Book Description
About the Book
Nepal is renowned for the snow-capped Himalayas and their sacred status as the abode of the gods. These sacred seats are considered inaccessible and remain forbidden to human beings. Despite this mountain image, the largest part of Nepal consists of the lower, densely populated regions known as the Middle Hills, an area of intensively cultivated valleys and skilfully terraced hillsides. Here too, in spaces long inhabited and cultivated by humans, certain natural features peaks, rock outcrops, caves, and lakes - are considered sacred. The villagers see them as the seats of their divine protectors and as the 'custodians of their land. In contrast to the forbidden' Himalayan peaks, these sacred sites-above all those on centrally located mountains and mountain lakes - are the scenes of spectacular festivals with shamanic, Buddhist and Hindu cults. On the full-moon nights of July-August the rugged peak of Kalingchok, the flat, grassy mountaintop of Thulo Sailung, and the shores of icy Gosainkund Lake become the scenes of large popular festivals. On such occasions these sites vibrate to the sounds of shaman drums and the night becomes a great feast for all. The present book is an anthropological study on the history and formation of these communal feasts and rituals on Sailung, Kalingchok and Gosainkund. Not only are they the home of unique 'Himalayan' shamanic practices and Buddhist/Hindu rituals, they also provide tangible evidence.

regarding the history of these regions that lie so near the Kathmandu Valley, yet have barely been studied. These festivals and rituals, too, outline the complex interrelation between the shamanic beliefs of a local Himalayan society and the powers of Buddhist Tibet and the Hindu Kingdom in the Kathmandu Valley.

Foreword
Since 1985 Gabriele Tautscher has conducted numerous anthropological field studies in Nepal's Middle Hills and Himalayan borderland between Nepal and Tibet. Her main focus of research is anthropology of landscape, oral history and social and political structures among the Tamangs. She is Lecturer at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna.

Every possible and imaginable perspective has its necessary place in spatial dimension. I say 'perspective meaning a privileged point for observing reality, capable of providing a sense and an understanding of its surroundings. Here we have a volume illustrating pilgrimages. We have moun tains, lakes and watercourses. Flags hanging from a string, ruins of rough stone buildings near the peaks, and vermilion powder left on a rock. For the people that come this far, these places are- without dis making apparently heterogeneous realities converge in a single order. tinction-sacred realities, where sacred means drawing a line between things, distinguishing, separating and then recomposing. Farther off and lower down are the villages. There, people live and survive. Peasants, shepherds and, now and again, something else as well. People who, every year, depart, guided by shamans, to go and visit those mountains, lakes and watercourses. These, therefore, are sacred pilgrimages, aimed at recreating the invisible threads that bind the living to those sites from which, at the dawn of time, the founders of their race emerged. The purpose of such itineraries is to draw on inexhaustible sources of power, vital for community survival. Going on a pilgrimage thus means simultaneously reactivating a shared memory and paying worship, as well as petitioning.

Setting out on a pilgrimage, however, also means cutting through space, choosing a precise direction. For those taking part in this col lective rite, the direction itself generates a specific optical perspective that, subsuming the sparse and dissimilar space that faces us, repro poses it to our eyes from a new and coherent point of view. Setting out thus signifies moving through a transfigured space, newly mark ing the territory, grading the values scattered throughout the area, reorganising it according to a hierarchy of meanings, giving it gender, unearthing living symbols.

Preface
Nepal is renowned for the snow-capped Himalayas that stretch along its northern border to Tibet. Well known, too, is their sacred status as the abode of the gods, as indicated in the names of these great peaks: Annapurna, the Goddess of Plenty; Gauri Shankar, home to the Lord Shiva (Shankar) and his consort Parvati (Gauri); Ganesh Himal, sacred to the elephant-faced Lord Ganesh-just to name a few that have made the country famous. These sacred seats are considered inaccessible and remain forbidden to human beings.

Despite this mountain image, the largest part of Nepal consists of the lower, densely populated regions known as the Middle Hills. This is an area of intensively cultivated valleys and skilfully terraced hillsides. At elevations above 2,500 metres, especially in the foothills that merge with the high Himalayan ranges, dense forests of rhodo dendron, when blooming in springtime, create an enchanted world of its own. In summer their grasslands are used as pasture for live stock. Here too, in spaces long inhabited and cultivated by humans, certain natural features - peaks, rock outcrops, caves, and lakes - are considered sacred. The villagers see them as the seats of their divine protectors and as the 'custodians of their land. In contrast to the 'for bidden Himalayan peaks, these sacred sites - above all those on cen trally located mountains and mountain lakes - are the scenes of spec tacular feasts with shamanic, Buddhist and Hindu cults.

On the full-moon nights of July-August the rugged peak of Kalingchok, the flat, grassy mountaintop of Thulo Sailung, and the shores of icy Gosainkund Lake become the scenes of large popular festivals and destinations of many pilgrims. On such occasions these sites vibrate to the sounds of shaman drums. The night becomes a great feast for all: A festival get-together where alcohol flows in abundance and the young people enjoy their flirting. The whole night is spent in dance and song. Blood or milk is offered to the deities in whose honour these festivals are held: They will protect the people who live in their domain.

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