August 19, Kathmandu. The Corona epidemic was raging everywhere. People were locked inside the house. I reached Humla last April after escaping from the same hustle and bustle.
Before that, I had visited Khaptad and Bardiya. I made Humla my third destination. Moreover, Namkha Khyangzhong Gumba (Yalbang Gumba) of Humla. Chyam is worshiped there every year. The attraction of Chyam Pooja had led me there.
From Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, from there via Simkot to Namkha Khyangzhong Gumba. Since the flight to there would be uncertain, we had already prepared the way before the puja started. Yam of Vaishakh. Open mountains. Hey there Enthusiasm filled my gut. I was happy.
Coincidentally, after reaching Yalbang, it started snowing. I love playing with snow, touching snow.
Day of Chyam Puja. “It was as if the sky was open after the rain. In the background of the blue sky, the mountain was majestic. Before 6 o’clock in the morning, I reached the monastery. There was an eternal kingdom of snow.
In the early morning sun, the monastery was painted golden. A lump of melted snow was falling from the roof of the monastery. The sound of chanting was coming from inside the monastery. The outside was mostly quiet.
Above the Gumba was a dense forest of angular pine trees, which had turned black with snow. The eagles and crows were flying freely in the open sky above the forest.
I headed for the forest, straightening my camera lens. The mixed sound of Karnali river and wind seemed musical in itself.
I first visited this monastery 15 years ago, in 2007, on my way from Simkot to Kailash Mansarovar. Similarly, in 2011 I went to Simkot Hills Limi for the Great Himalayan Trail and a few more times in a few years. At that time, this area was not touched by motor road.
It took four days to reach Hilsa from Simkot and two days from Simkot to reach Yalbang Gumba. On the way there were herds of buffaloes, sheep and goats. Some were going to Taklakot with rice and pulses to get salt while others were returning from Taklakot with salt and wool. However, such scenes have become rare after reaching by car.
The instrument is playing loudly in the monastery. People gathered around the monastery. I also joined their crowd.
The monastery was decorated with pomp. On its right side were decorated with precious thangkas. On the left, Rinpoche and the guests, and in front, the villagers, wearing masks, were sitting quietly.
After a while, a crowd of people dressed in very attractive attire came out from the door of the monastery including Bajagaja. They started dancing in a circle in the empty space in front. I also rushed to capture this scene on camera.
Suddenly a strange dance
The dance was very calm, gentle and grand. A dance continued for an hour. When the fifth dance was over, the atmosphere suddenly deteriorated. There was a lot of noise.
Some came out of the monastery dancing, jumping, fighting, shouting, playing the gadyangudung baja like some ghosts. They rushed to the place where the devotees were staying.
In a way, the atmosphere was tense and tense. But, there was nothing to be afraid of. Because it was a dance with a main message of Chyam Pooja.
Gumba founder and Rinpoche Guru Pema Riksal, interpreting the dance, said, “According to Buddhist scriptures, until the 49th day after our death, we don’t have a new birth. We see a lot of scary things. Then there is hunger and thirst. ‘
According to him, in the beginning, in the birth of the present people in Sinharu, half of what is to be born is like that, half of what is to be born now is remembered. As time goes by, various thoughts come to mind. Many rages are coming! Anger causes many scary illustrations to appear! It makes you panic! From there, heaven and hell end!
If you don’t recognize that Buddha instinct is your own shadow, you will suffer for many days! Therefore, one should look with reverence in the shadows and understand that the frighteningly illustrated 49-day-old Guru Padmasambhava, due to the nature of the Buddha, is one of the many forms of Padmasambhava. This is something we have already seen in the shadows.
This is just a form of Guru Padmasambhava and there is no fear. This is an opportunity to get acquainted with the Buddha. Guru Padmasambhava is present at the end of the dance and he blesses us. Then it is believed that sin is forgiven and virtue is attained.
Eight thunderbolts based on the biography of Guru Padmasambhava are performed in Chyam. This puja, which has been performed for thousands of years, has been performed uninterruptedly at Namkha Khyangzhong Gumba Yalbang for the last 13 years. It seems that Chyam Puja should be promoted not only religiously but also in terms of tourism.
I myself am a resident of Humla. But, only last year, I met my sister Dr. Chyam. I found out from Janita Gurung. He is the program coordinator of ISIMOD. The Kailash Sacred Landscape Program under ISIMOD has been identifying and promoting the tourism potential of Humla Limi for some years now.
The trip to Humla was made possible by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Program with a story grant from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ISIMOD).