We will survive

To whomever will listen. I am a craftsperson, an artist, living in a remote village just south of the Great Himalayas Mountains. My humble home lies just outside the village at the base of these great mountains and it is here that I have lived my entire life, and where my father lived before me, his father living in a village much east of here. My life has been shaped around these mountains and everyday before my walk into town to visit the temple and the market, I take a moment to appreciate its beauty; and in my awe I draw much inspiration and gain strength to start my day. As an artist, specializing in the art of paint, it is something about the curves and peaks of the mountains that draws my brush to paper; and the colorful mixture of the lush greenery and rigged rock that brings my imagination to life. In my spare time I paint scenery and idolatry and try to sell them in the local market to make profit, my dream, however, is to paint images of the deities in the temples so that people can worship and set their eyes upon my work everyday for centuries to come. I was taught to paint by my father, who was taught by his father, who was taught by his, and so on, and soon I will be able to teach my son just a few months from now, as my wife still carries him around in her belly. However, unlike my father I will let my son choose his calling or path but I will stress to him the fulfillment creating art brings and the most important lesson gained from producing it- that art lives forever, once it is expressed and released into the universe it makes an imprint that will bring good merit to your life.

Although art is extremely important in my life, ritual and spirituality come first, especially in my village, a place of custom and tradition; where those who do not perform ritual are not as respected or fulfilled and those who do will find happiness and serenity in this life. This is not only why I preform rituals however, I do so to appease to deities and local spirits so they will bring good fortune to our town. Of late, however, my wife said she heard gossip of a coming hailstorm from a farmer’s wife in the market place. It is a storm to be feared, she said, that will bring hailstones the size of melons to our doorsteps, causing much damage to crops and buildings; and maybe even injury or death to those who are unlucky, who are not cautious or whom cannot find adequate shelter. I also heard word of such a storm, on several occasions today, and word is spreading fast that this may be the work of black magic – a proposition I do not doubt. Someone must have greatly offended the local spirits; they do not take kindly to that sort of insubordination. I hear it could have been a farmer that has been shirking their ritual practices in order to work longer hours in their fields to bring more fortune to their family. Although, however beneficial to their family, how selfish and naive could they be in angering the spirits, now that their actions would have effected the entire community. Hopefully the spirits will recognize the errors of their ways, having pity on them and sparing my family from misfortune, as we have kept our promises and devotion to ritual practise and stayed true to our religious beliefs. If need be, hopefully, the spirits will only punishing the perpetrators, allowing the innocent to continue on.

The fear of this storm’s wrath has been coursing through my veins and as my wife rests her body inside our humble house, I spend hours toiling away making sure our house is fortified enough to act as adequate shelter – including reinforcing beams and securing the thatch. I tell anyone who does not have shelter they are welcome to stay in our shelter in return from aiding me in my efforts to secure the home, maybe we can fit four or five people who do not have shelter. But this is not enough to protect us on its own, on top of this, I have acquired a protective amulet made of yak bone and two types of metal that I wear around my neck. This is no ordinary amulet. It is a specific mandala printed on handmade paper that represents a deities’ realm of influence. It is inscribed with that deities’ charm, which is arranged around the central eight-petalled lotus. For the amulet to be effective, it must be blessed by a Gelugpa lama, who empowers it by chanting a charm, the sound of which aligns with the vibration of the universe. The lama blesses it, sprinkling drops of sacred water onto it and binds it in a small cloth pouch with thread, that I wear around my neck. I fully endorse this kind of protection. It has kept me safe in the past from other such storms and I will wear it until I have the assurance that the storm has passed. Then I will go to the temple and thanks the spirits for all they have done.

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