06 October 2010

Into the Wild

(photo found HERE)

It took a bit longer to traverse the mountain ranges from China to Tibet (read: work got crazy and I was rather burnt out the past few days), and for that I apologize.

Tibet has always held this mystical power over me. These next three countries, in fact, have carried my imagination since I was a child. “The Land of the Thunderdragon”, Kathmandu, Shangri-la. They exist, in reality; all I need is a plane ticket and about a year and a half to explore them.
Or I could just blog about them, and their food. I’d rather board the next flight out, but let’s face it: the Internet is free and plane tickets into Kathmandu are not. At least, not that I know of. If any of you have any tips on free airfare to the Himalayas, I’m listening!

(map found HERE)

We’ll start in Tibet. It butts up against China and will act as a doorway between destinations. Tibet is roughly the size of Western Europe and is currently occupied by the People’s Republic of China. Tibet’s history is a turbulent one and the people there still suffer under an oppressive government. If you’re interested in learning more about Tibet in general or the fight for basic human rights for the Tibetan people, check out

I had the honor of meeting several monks from Tibet years ago while in college. Our cultural department brought in a group of Tibetan monks who performed haunting music, several traditional Tibetan dances and told stories in their native tongue. The Telfair Art Museum in Savannah hosted a mandala event and I was fortunate enough to be studying Art History at the time and was required to take a peek at the creation of the mandala. Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle and is used in Hindu and Buddhist traditions as a means of spiritual teaching, prayer, and meditation. Wikipedia has an excellent entry on mandalas.

(photo found HERE)

The one I saw being created was at least twelve feet across and was “painted” using colored sand. The monks prayed and chanted as they created it, asking for peace on earth. I got to chat with some young monks who were gracious and very joyful, eager to answer my questions about their home and their religion. Sadly, all of these monks were in exile from their home in Lhasa, living at the time in northern India.

When the mandala was completed, a blessing was said over it and the public was invited to walk with the monks several blocks from the museum to the Savannah River for a blessing ceremony. A friend of mine joined me and we watched as the monks chanted and prayed over Savannah while dumping the sand from the beautiful mandala into the river, praying for peace over our city and for the entire world. It was a very moving experience and I’m very thankful I got to participate in such an interesting cultural event.

(photo found HERE)

Since Chinese occupation, the Tibetan religious community has lived in exile in northern India and in Nepal. Their culture, traditions and language are under constant threat of extinction. I was a bit anxious as to whether or not I’d be able to find anything on Tibetan food but LO! The Internet doth prove itself once more.

There’s not a lot (and I honestly don’t know how much of it I’ll be able to reproduce at home), but I do want to share with you what I’ve found.

(photo found HERE)

Tibet is a fascinating country with beautiful traditions that sadly carry the burden of persecution. I hope you’ll join me as I wander the virtual Tibetan realm. I’m really looking forward to this part of our adventure.

(photo found HERE)


Karen Walker said...

This is a place and culture that speaks to me also, Jen. Thanks for sharing the awesome photos and info on making mandalas. Quite interesting. Looking forward to the food...

Jennifer said...

I'm definitely going to have to start doing my own research on Tibet. I never knew all of that stuff before.

Brian Miller said...

excellent intro...the mandala making is really that was awesome to watch...

The Golden Eagle said...

Tibet is one interesting country.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, interesting post!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! :D

deb said...

love the colours... so vibrant.

looking forward to the food, in all honesty I can't think what it would include.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Very fascinating place. I know nothing of the culture or food. I can't wait to learn.

Sandra said...

Fabulous post! I'm hoping to go to Bhutan next year...hoping and praying and working towards that goal.

Melissa said...

This place sounds fantastic. I never thought about going to Tibet but now it's on my list of places I wish i could go.

Erin Kuhns said...

Such a great intro to Tibet. I get heart sick thinking about how much death and destruction has occurred to some of the most gentle souls in the world (Tibetans) - particularly the Tibetan monks.

I am SO jealous that you got to witness the mandala experience. Wow. That's so incredible. Thanks so much for sharing!!