HEALINGS, EXORCISMS, AND MYTHIC VISIONS: THIS IS WHERE RITUAL AND CULTURE INTERTWINE.
Syafrubesi is a village situated just 13 kilometres from the Chinese border, where the popular trekking routes to Gosaikunda and Lantang begin. It is an area steeped in tradition and culture, and a spiritual focal point for the Bompos or Jhankris, the mediators with the sacred world who are probably better known to us as shamans.
Healings, pujas to remove obstacles, exorcisms, and mythic visions, this is where ritual and culture intertwine. The Bompos belong to a tribe of Tibetan origin called the Tamangs; once horse-riding warriors, the Tamangs came to Nepal from northern Tibet.
Power (sakhti in Nepali) is the source of a shaman’s fame, and these healers treat diseases of both the body and the soul, purifying the ill with fire, and with water that’s been filled with mantra. Animal sacrifice is popular among the lcoals, although some shamans now shun this practice. Alcohol is also an important part of all rituals, and is used as an offering to the Gods. Shamans pierce their cheeks to prove their powers. “Do you believe me now?” said one, “I can lick red hot iron, I can change a piece of wood into cobra.”
Since this story was shot, the village Shyabrubesi has disappeared, devastated in the Kathmandu quake. If you’d like to contribute to the rebuilding of this village, please visit this indiegogo campaign.
Photographs: Martushka Fromeast