So there it is - yes, the spring is coming. Or maybe the end of winter, but here in the corridor, behind the window, we have spring, because first vegetables start to grow soon. The kids past another test at school, which turned out well for most of the students. It took place on 15th of February and included all the subjects. Now, let us describe the climatic changes. Last week we came from Phuktal monastery festival and since that time the snow has been melting in front of our eyes. So work on the fields should start next month. Trip to Phuktal was the last greeting of winter and also saying goodbye to chadar. We started our trip on Tuesday and we trevelled together with young girls (doksa girls who are also take English classes at our school), all of them where beautifully dressed. (...)
(...) We had quite nice weather, even the ice was solid enough to walk on, so we managed to reach Phuktal monastery in two days.
It is an incredible monastery, built on the rock, so it looks like a swallow nest. A European, who is used to solid concrete buildings, cannot understand how such a big complex of buildings can hold together.
Local monks were really nice fellows. They took great care of us, maybe because we were the only Europeans there, and they do not see so many in winter.
Most of the day, they spent praying on the courtyard regardless of the weather. Other monks were playing musical instruments (and pray) some floors above. Rest of the monks were cooking, bringing water and sorted things necessary for running a monastery.
We were also invited to pray and eat with the monks. The food was delicious, but in less than hour we had to apologize and leave, because our legs were totally frozen and bloodless.
I was right in my suspicion that one of the most important things about this festival is for local girls and boys to meet. Most of the time the girls walk around chorten and pray. Boys stand around and watch themJ Then we realized, that at night one of the girls was kidnapped and then she had a wedding in another village. So this is a common way (quite usual) how to get married in Zanskar.
The programme of the festival was mainly the two rituals – first day monks give blessings to animal that were brought to the monastery by villagers. Next day, a figurine of daemon named Thorma was thrown from monastery (the monks spent all day to make this figurine very carefully – it is made from tsampa – browned flour – instant miracle, the base of zanskar kitchen).
Our journey back was our farewell with real Zanskar winter. We travelled just by ourselves, because rest of the villagers had plans to stop by their friends and relatives on the way back. First day, we wanted to go as far as possible, but our will was broken by strong wind with a lot of snow, which forced us to stop in Kuru village. We also met men from Kargyak there. They were dragging logs on the frozen river (the only way to do is the winter time).
A big surprise was awaiting us in Kargyak. Our children invited us in their village and took us straight to one household where pudja was celebrated (buddhistic feast), all villagers were praying and eating (delicious food) together. So it was the best end of our journey – sitting in a heated room, capati in one hand, tea in the other – finally we were at homeJ
Julee Martin a Petra