Experiencing The Final, Fire-Laden Ceremony Of The Kharchu Dratshang Drupcheen in Jakar, Bhutan

Gallery

I love good fortune. While we had some days with rain for our 2013 Bhutan Photo Tour, we had some good fortune as well.

Having previously been to the Namkhe Nyingpo Goemba (Monastery) above the town of Jakar in Central Bhutan, I knew it as a great spot for sunset photos. After a day of trouncing around the countryside our group gathered in our trusty van and headed up the small, winding road (this describes almost ALL Bhutanese roads, by the way) to the monastery, hoping for a break in the clouds just at sunset.

What we were greeted with instead was a parking lot full of cars. Monasteries in Bhutan don’t have a lot of cars because the monks don’t drive much, if at all. We came to find out there was a retreat going on and that the next day there would be a ceremony in the courtyard. I’ll have more on the indoor ceremony we found that night in another post as it was a unique experience (we were allowed to take photos during the ceremony inside the temple, which is usually not allowed).

At the appropriate time the next day we headed up the hill again and watched as the monks set up for the ceremony, burned a lot of offerings and then ignited a huge fireball near the end of everything. You can see the fireball about 2/3 the way into this photo essay.

The experience was fascinating even though we didn’t understand a word of what was being said. I loved the pageantry and colors most of all and it was fun to be at on a local event.

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Video

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At an altitude of 4500m (14,500′), this is the lower of the three valleys on the way to Kyajo Ri.  The second is  500m higher and the last is another 400m, containing the bulk of the Kyajo Glacier which must be crossed on the way to the summit.  Looking down the valley in the video you can see the lower flanks of the sacred Sherpa peak Khumbi Yul Lha (spelled differently on each map, it seems).  The water in this area is clean enough to be drank straight from the stream, although only one member of our team was brave enough to do this.

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Morning Comes To The Kyajo Ri Valley from Peter West Carey on Vimeo.

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