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Devotees que outside the monastery

Tashiding Monastery & tBumchu . . . page 2

Outside, a stone with a hollow that perfectly fills in one’s knee could relieve one of knee aches. The other appears like a back rest and reclining against it assuages back ache. But the most mystifying is the ‘Thakar Tashiding’, the little white rock, and the epicenter of everyone’s curiosity - a tiny hole in a hallowed rock. If you can run your finger right into this hole thrice by walking towards it with your eyes shut, then your wishes are said to come true.

Tashiding monastery doesn’t fail to amaze. Even as you stroll around, alongside the engraved tablets and the maze of prayer flags you can sense its haunting aura, unstopping, ancient and sacred.

Cavernous Lures
While at the monastery also visit the two holy caves in the vicinity. The caves have been venerated for years and have numerous beliefs attached to them. One such happens to scare off those not confident in themselves – it is said that sinners get stuck in the narrow tunnels within. Incredible or scary, you sure could test yourself.

The Bumchu
This sacred water festival is the monastery’s main event. Held on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar year (which falls sometime between February and March), this ancient ritual is one of the holiest Buddhist festivals in Sikkim. Thousands of devotees visit the sacred celebration and an endless train of people can be seen from midnight until the next day waiting for their turn to receive the holy water. Devotees camp around the monastery with families and friends. A good number of makeshift shops come up catering to the thronging crowd along the trail to the monastery.

After long hours of prayer the sacred pot containing holy water is opened by the monks of the monastery. The water level in the pot is said to hold the fortunes of Sikkim for the year ahead, a belief since ancient times. Should the pot be almost dry then a devastating famine looms ahead. A brimful of water likewise portends turbulent times. It is only when the pot is half-full that peace and prosperity is signified. This water is then distributed to the devotees who wait in queue for long hours. Once again, the pot is filled with river water and then sealed to be opened only at the next Bumchu festival.

Road Facts
The Tashiding Monastery is situated atop a peculiar camel-hump spur that extends from the same hill leading out of Yuksam in West Sikkim. It is 19 km from Yuksam, and 13 km from Rabongla. Its main festival is the Bumchu. Tashiding has few and small inns and since it is relatively close to places like Yuksam, Pelling and Rabongla, visitors would be better off to base themselves in these such areas instead. Alternatively trekking groups heading for Dzongri and Goecha La could plan an overnight stay enroute.

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