Fire Offerings

Several times a year monks from the monastery in Ritoma are invited to Norlha to conduct rituals. These vary according to need; usually, a divination is performed and a particular ritual is advised. A well functioning workshop is for the good of all.

One of these is the Fire Offering, as illustrated in the photos. A hearth is built and a fire started by the monks. An elaborate display of various ingredients including an array of grains, honey and incense are displayed on a table. The monk conducting the ritual throws them one by one onto the fire, which is kindled by the addition of oil. As he does so the monk visualizes a celestial bath house and invites the deities to a ritual bath that clears obstacles.

Wind spreads the fragrance from the burnt offerings far and wide, long after the ritual is completed. Birds, especially alpine choughs, love to pick though the charred remains. This also prompted the visit of a particular, tall sheep, a tsethar, an animal whose life has been spared, that is always around the guesthouse picking through the garbage. It spent many hours nosing through the smoky grain, sometimes attempting to swallow an apparently delicious morsel but burning its mouth instead.