Matho (223) Festival of the Oracles

Matho218 photos

Description

Coordinates: 33° 59′ 56″ N, 77° 37′ 51″ E

Matho Gompa, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Ladakh east of Leh, is the only example of the Sakyapa sect. It is known for its annual Oracle Festival, Matho Nagran, held on the 14th and 15th days of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. During this festival, the approximately 60 resident lamas elect two oracles, known as Rongzam, to serve a three year term. The purpose of these oracles is to attempt to predict the fortunes of the local village communities for the coming year.

The two lamas purify themselves with months of fasting and meditation to make themselves suitable receptacles for receiving the oracles spirits. When possessed they are said to be able to perform many astounding feats such as cutting themselves with knives and walking around the ramparts of the top storey blindfolded with no fear of falling down the precipice below. While in this trance state they answer questions about the prospects for Matho and Ladakh for the coming year.

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