Art in Buddhist Ritual Objects

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My awareness of Buddhist rituals and practices is limited to my observations. Someday I hope I will have the opportunity to seek out the stories and the philosophies behind these rituals.

All the 10 monasteries I visited in March 2011 in and around Sikkim, follow different ideologies, each varying slightly from the other. Among the few differences that I discovered were their rules for monk lives, and the rituals they followed at Losar. Acquiring a complete understanding of the subject, therefore seemed impossible at the time, so I decided to focus on absorbing the beauty of the experience and capturing some of it on pixels.

I spent hours sitting mentally blank like a sponge – in the Lingdum monastery hall filled with 120 monks chanting prayers, playing ceremonial horns and performing their rituals. On another day I spent time in the same monastery hall this time empty, almost completely dark – softly lit with a few butter lamps – I sat there absorbing the history of the place and the ideology that emanated from the decor – each telling a story – each prescribing a way of life. These experiences are the wealth of my life and I wish I could put these down in words and pictures, so that I could re-live these when the memory fades.Sigh!

Some of the objects used in the rituals are presented below accompanied by very basic comments about the object.

Click to view slideshow.

I came across a fascinating ritual object that probably had tantric influence: a ‘dumroo’ made using two halves of two human skulls using python skin as the drumming membrane …unfortunately I did not have my camera with me then!

And the end of this trip brings me back to the words “There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done!!!”

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March 2011

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