Saturday, January 4, 2014

Kagyu Flag-Karmapa's Dream Flag

The 16th Gyalwa karamapa H.H Rangjung Rigpe Dorjee spiritual leader of Kagyupa sect   of Tibetan Buddhism was well known for his vision and Prophesies designed this flag from his vision that came to him in dream.He called it 'Namkhyen Gyaldar(Namchen) meaning the victorious flag of Buddha's wisdom.He proclaimed,"wherever this banner is flown the Dharma will flourish".
At the level of relative truth, the blue is the sky (heaven), symbolizing spiritual insight and vision, and the yellow is the earth, the actual world of our everyday experience. The symmetry of the wave pattern shows how we come to understand their interdependence when we practice the dharma.
As a reminder of absolute truth, the blue symbolizes the wisdom, or emptiness aspect of awakened being, while the yellow stands for the compassion aspect. The wavy intermingling of the two colors represents their inseparability.

The interdependence shown in the flag can also be seen as the wisdom of Mahamudra, the ultimate realization of ones true nature.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Kagyad Dance

Athi ti dewa bhawa(Guest is God,so you cannot stop  even if he is standing in a wrong place)

Distribution of Sundi(sacred thread)

Phodang "Karma Thubten Tashi ChoKhorling" Monastery

Opposite of Monastery

Monks of Phodong Monastery

Phodang Monastery(Karma Thubten Tashi Chokhorling) is a majorKagyupa Sect Monastery. The gonpa is located about38 kilometers from Gangtok on the way This Monastery was actually founded by the fourthKing Gyurmed Namgyalbut unfortunately, he passed away in 1734 i.e. two years after the demise of the 12th Karmapa Lama. However, the Lamas with a support oflaities completed the Monastery in 1740 A.D.
In the course of time, an earthquake damaged the old structure and had to be dismantled. The Lamas rebuilt a new Monastery it in 1977 which was bigger in size than the previous Monastery with financial assistance from the Government in addition to their own contribution.
During the course of reconstruction, the experts of Delhi National Museum Institute extracted the old fresco paintings before  the old structure was dismantled . North Sikkim. These painting are now being preserved by the department for restoration in the new Monastery building. This gonpa came into international limelight through the writings of the famous French explorer Alexander David Neel who spent some years here learning Buddhism in the begining of 1912 under the guidance of the third Lachen Gomchen whom she accepted as her Root Teacher. She practiced meditation in a cave near the vicinity of this gonpa. She was patronized by Chogyal Sidkyong Tulku who also gifted her a Buddha Statue which was returned to this Gonpa after her death in 1969.
Some of her photos can be seen in the first floor of the Gonpa. Since the Phodangmonastery is one of the important places of tourist‘s interest in North Sikkim, department of Tourism had further taken up the funding of the remaining works of the monastery which includes the restoration of old fresco paintings. The main festival is an annual mask dance fair in winter corresponding to the month of December to January.


Kagyad Dance

Kagyad Dance is a dance performed by Buddhist Monk  in many monasteries of sikkim as a part of Lossong Festival.This dance is performed in the 28th and 29th of 10 month tibetan calender which usually falls in the last week of december. This dance symbolize the destruction of evil spirit of previous year and welcome the good spirit for the coming year.
Costume of lamas is full of colour with gaily painted maskes, they dance to the rythem of resounding drums  jumping and swing the ceremonial swords in their hand.They dance in formation and there is geometrical  figure  drawn in the ground to help them dance in formation.This kagyad dance enacts various theme from the Buddhist Mythology and culminates with the burning of effigy made of flour,wood and paper.Before burning this effigy it is kept in the centre of ground where monks performed dance,there devotees pray and put coin in there.They believe that  by putting coin or currency  in the effigy they are throwing all the bed luck for the coming new year.
In  some of the rural areas of Sikkim,Kagyad dance(They called Gumpa Cham) is the only annual  festival  of that area ,so businessman from nearby town bring their item in the Cham. They sells jackets,Household item,pearls,toys, and many other  items which villagers love to do shopping. Local  people also put their food stal  outside the Gumpa Complex,so you can always try new local menu  at reasonable price.In day time devotees who come from far of place to see dance   just sit outside Gumpa in the ground   for whole day and at the night time they just enjoy the night life with  chang(local beverage)  in the nearby deera(Food Stall) .In some of the place  especially in the rural areas ,they even play cards in the food stal in  the night time but i am afraid they won't allow stranger to play with them.
On the 30th day of 10th month tibetan calender,Rinpochee give blessing to all the devotees and monks.They even distribute sung di(Sacred thread),chiri (prasad ) and thi (holy water) and devotees offer their offering to Monastery as a token of thanks.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Glimpse of Zuluk,East Sikkim,India.

Name of Place:Zuluk,East Sikkim,India.


Nearest airport:Bogdogra,west Bengal

Nearest Railway station:N.J.P,Weast Sikkim

How far is from Gangtok:3hrs drive.

where can we get permit:Rongli/Gangtok check post.

Things to see in Zuluk:Sun rise view,old silk road,view of Kanchendzonga,lakes,birds wildlife(Red Panda),64 bend turning road and rare birds.

Thing to take:warm clothes.

Photo credit:Guest of Gopal Pradhan's homestay.

Interview with Gopal Pradhan

 Mr. Gopal Pradhan started homastay(Dil Maya retreat) in Zuluk village seven years back in the year 2006 with few domestic tourist especially kolkatta tourist. Last year,the number of tourist who visited that year crossed the mark 1400 and for this year he already received booking till October.Once remote border village now it turned into prosperous village with number of homestay mushrooming since it was open to domestic tourist.Tourist from Punjab,kolkatta,mumbai,Assam and Delhi had already received  the hospitality of Mr.Pradhan's Homestay and feedback can be found all over the online forum.

With no formal education he is running his homestay like a management graduate,creating employment to local youth,  who in future want to open their own homestay.After meeting him my definition of education has  changed,education has nothing to do with success,if you have vision  and put effort to  achieve whatever you have dreamed then success will follow you.

T2S:Mr. Gopal tell us about Zuluk?
GP:Well zuluk is a pictureque village,sort of heaven on earth,its a place where one  can come close to nature.Zuluk is a home to some of the rare birds of Indian subcontinent like Himalayan monal,Blood Pheasant,Satyr Tragopan and so on.Morning here begin with magnificent sun  rise and morning view of Mt.kanchenzonga.64 bend turning is something you would not  see elsewhere.

T2S:When did you started your homestay and why? 
GP:I started ,my  homestay in the year 2006 because earlier some of the homestay here in Zuluk were not able to give good hospitality,so i started my own.

T2S:What type of the tourist come here in Zuluk?
GP:Tourist usually come here to escape from their busy life and want to  be close to nature.They come here  for kanchendzonga view,sunrise view,lakes and for Birds.Most of the bird watcher who come to zuluk stay here for 4-5days.

T2S:How much do you charge for room here in your homestay?
GP:Here we charge Rs.700 per person which include breakfast,lunch and dinner.

T2S:Thats pretty cheap,don't you think?
GP:Yeah.Most of the toursit ask me the same question but i want to make our room affordable to all the tourist.

T2S:Is your family also involved in running homestay?
GP:My whole family is helping me.My son has done his computer course from kolkatta under capacity builiding and now he is looking after all this.

T2S:Tell us about your earlier life?
GP:I have no formal education.Thirty years back i used to work as GREF labour  and then as a tourist vehicle driver and now i own four tourist vehicle and i am an entrepreneur.

T2S:Any information to tourisit who want to visit Zuluk?
GP:Do visit Zuluk,its a beautiful  and peaceful place.Explore the hidden world of Sikkim.And for the bird lover,this is the right time to see some of the rare birds of Indian sub continent,who knows what would happen in future.For information regarding Zuluk tour and booking you can contact me at 9609860266/ 7872883264.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Highland bird survey-II

Meggie that we ate in the kyongsala.

Like last year,this year too members of SOS(Sikkim Ornithological Society) organised highland bird survey to Tsomgu lake and zuluk,East Sikkim on 9th march 2013..It has became the tradition for SOS member to go for highland bird search every year.Last year they did survey of Gurudogmar lake area and lachen and they recorded one the species called Terek sandpiper which was recorded for the first time in sikkim.

This year Niraj sir,Karma sir and myself  voluntar  in the survey and we  were able to record some total of 33 species of highland bird in their list.Among them were Blood Pheasant(male and female),Kalij Pheasant,white winged grossbed,coal tit,Rudy shelduck,upland buzzard,grey creasted tit,mallard,grey wagtail,Eurasian treepcreeper,large billed chow,tufled duck,winter wren,shikar and many more.some of birds  like Pink browed Rosefinch,ruddy shelduck,white browed,winter wren and white winged grosbeak were common in surveyed area.Himalayan monal,national bird of Nepal which is found area like zuluk was in top of the list this time but they could find it because the weather was not in the good mood this time.
 During our visit we  interacted with the locals regarding the status of birds in their area .At last it was a wonderful experience.


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