I Am Not Scared of Night

Collection with 12 media items created by Martushka Fromeast

14 May 2014 04:00

Shyabrubesi is a small village situated in the Nepali Himalaya, only 13 km away from the Chinese border. The village is the starting point for the popular Langtang trek. During high season, hundreds of tourists from all over the world pass through the village. However, the village’s shamanistic heritage is a well kept secret. Rituals mostly take place at nights and in private spaces. Shamans perform special healing procedures known as pujas, to keep bad spirits away. During the Janai Purnima holiday, about 1000 local villagers and shamans go for a traditional pilgrimage. In these local communities, shamans are respected leaders.

Nepal Tourism Tradition Rituals Shamans Holiday Human Interest

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Shyabrubesi 2
By Martushka Fromeast
08 Oct 2013

It is very important to get rid of bad spirits. Their symbols are burned outside the village each time a pudja is performed in someone’s house. Each pudja starts with preparing Tormas (figures made of dough) and Tsompa (barley flour balls), symbolizing gods and devils.

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Shyabrubesi 11
By Martushka Fromeast
20 Aug 2013

Drinking alcohol is an important part of all rituals, which act as social events during which men and women meet. Drinking is also important during the annual pilgrimage during Janai Purima holiday. It is used as an offering to the Gods.

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Shyabrubesi 5
By Martushka Fromeast
08 Sep 2013

Shaman Risowangdi pierces his cheeks with a needle to prove his powers. “Do you believe me now? I can lick red hot iron, I can change a piece of wood into cobra”, he claims. He also says that sometimes, during trance, spirits enter his body.

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Shyabrubesi 8
By Martushka Fromeast
21 Aug 2013

A young shaman is washing his face with holy water in Langshica kharka. Shaman Risowangdi, who is more powerful than him, sent him a mantra that made his nose bleed.

7 shamans from 3 different casts were doing the annual pilgrimage together. They were followed by the local residents who were singing, dancing and drinking. The shamans were competing to prove their power. However, shamans belonging to different casts cannot run ceremonies, dance nor pray together. Their mantras do not go together. Mantras are a source of Shakti (power).

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Shyabrubesi 1
By Martushka Fromeast
13 Oct 2013

Policemen in Shyabrubesi killed the mouflon to celebrate Dashain, the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar. The men cut its head with an axe. After that, they dragged its body around a table three times where five beautifully decorated guns were placed. Sacrificing animals is popular among local people. Most shamans sacrifice chickens but some of them are against animal sacrifices.

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Shyabrubesi 7
By Martushka Fromeast
21 Aug 2013

According to local beliefs, Langtang is a "hidden valley", where Guru Rinpoche used to meditate. He is considered to be the ‘first shaman’.

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Shyabrubesi 10
By Martushka Fromeast
20 Aug 2013

Shamans go to villages situated higher in the mountains on both sides of the border with Nepal and China (Tibet) . Power (called sakhti in Nepali) is the source of a shaman’s fame.

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Shyabrubesi 3
By Martushka Fromeast
16 Sep 2013

Shaman Risowangdi during a pudja ceremony on an 84 years-old woman who, according to him, lost her heart. The shaman stayed at her house all night and sacrificed a chicken and was finally able to catch the evil spirit.

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Shyabrubesi 9
By Martushka Fromeast
21 Aug 2013

Risowangdi fights with something only he sees. He puts rice onto a drum and blows it away, then starts to cry and talk, using English, Hindu and Tamang words. He was asked by one of the attendant of the annual pilgrimage during Janai Purima holiday to pray for the well being of one of the adults. Risowangdi is one of the shamans of Shybarubesi. He belongs to a tribe of Tibetan origin called Tamangs. The name Tamang has two meanings: ‘TA’-horse and ‘MANG’ –warriors/combatants. Tamangs used to be horse-riding warriors and came to Nepal from northern Tibet. Risowangdi was trained to become a shaman by his older brother. He has been practicing as a Bompo (shaman) for the last 13 years. Before becoming a shaman he served in the army. Risowangdi's father was also a Bompo, but he divorced Risowangdi's mother for another woman. Risowangdi married for love at the age of 17 and is a very proud father of three sons.

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Shyabrubesi 6
By Martushka Fromeast
07 Sep 2013

Shaman Risowangdi beats a sick man with fire. Just before that, he had also beaten the man with branches of holy bush dipped in boiling wanter. The shaman filled the water with mantra (a sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer) that are supposed to help get rid of the illness. Local people from Shyabrubesi still go to shaman to get help. Shamans make their own traditional Ayervedic drugs (a type of alternative medicine that originated in India) to treat diseases and perform exorcisms to help the soul.

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Shyabrubesi 4
By Martushka Fromeast
15 Sep 2013

Risowangdi has three sons to whom he teaches shamanism.

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Shyabrubesi 12
By Martushka Fromeast
17 Aug 2013

Shamans’ rituals in Sybarubesi are performed at night. Local people believe that shamans gained their power after sunrise. Locals follow Tibetan Buddhism but also worship nature (Bone Religion). Bompos or Jhankris (shamans) perform special healing procedures, also called pujas, to keep bad spirits away. In opposition, Lamas perform rituals to help members of a community pass traditional rites of passage. They are usually called when a baby is born or when someone died.