Friday, February 1, 2013

Prayer Flags

Tibetan prayer flags, Zhongdian, China
(Click images to view larger)

Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India were recently in Laramie creating, and then ritually destroying, an intricate sand painting called a mandala.  They are members of a group that travels and educates people about Tibetan and Buddhist culture.

In the winter that we lived in China, I hiked along the Mekong River and into the mountains to a Tibetan village called Yubeng near the Tibetan border.  Yubeng is beautiful, nestled at the intersection of three valleys beneath the spectacular 20,000+ foot peaks of the Meili XueShan (Beautiful Snow Mountains).  The village is is a destination for many Tibetan pilgrims, who travel long distances with great austerity to visit a sacred waterfall nearby.  

While I was in Yubeng, I met a group of friendly Chinese hikers from Beijing, some of whom spoke good English, and we hiked together on a stormy day to the waterfall.  The Chinese have never forgiven the Japanese for their atrocities before WWII, and as we hiked up the well worn trail to the base of the enormous glacier where the waterfall is found, thunder sounded from the fog surrounding the high peaks.  A Chinese woman, oblivious to the irony, related conspiratorially to me that, "there is a joke that if a Japanese tourist arrives in Deqin (the closest big town), the weather will grow terrible because the Mountain God hates the Japanese."

Chinese settlers continue to pour into Tibet, a strategy designed to dilute and emasculate Tibetan culture.  Tibetan monks recently mourned one hundred Tibetans who have self-immolated in protest of Chinese oppression.  

Prayer flags near sacred waterfall, Yubeng, China, on the Tibetan border.

Prayer flags, Zhongdian.

In front of our house in Laramie, before the winds shredded them and carried them away.

Along the Mekong River, China.

Near Yubeng.

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