Spring on the Plateau is slow and bleak. The pasture, exhausted from winter grazing, will begin its slow turn from brown to timid green in mid April, and the air will gradually fill with the sounds of Spring; the bleating of baby yaks, and the cavorting of a new generation of sheep, born in the winter. Each year, the coming of Spring is celebrated with the Amne Tongra Laptse Festival, which this year, falls on the 13th of March. It is a celebration for peace, where in the past, warriors from various villages assembled and pledged to cease fighting to the deity Amne Tongra, burying their weapons at the base of the great, arrow-bearing conical structure.
Today, the Laptse is celebrated in great fanfare around Amnye Tongra, Ritoma’s highest mountain, one that bears its name. The air is filled with the high-pitched celebratory cries to the gods, the galloping of a hundred mounted, banner-bearing clan members, the fragrant smoke of the enormous pyre, the fluttering of prayer flags. A multitude of tiny lung ta image-bearing papers, the good fortune-bearing horse, are floating through the air, taking on airs of snowfall. On that day, all the monks in Ritoma monastery climb the mountain behind the monastery to make incense offerings and tie a new knot on their Tsethar yak, a yak whose life has been saved, further sealing their pledge to non-violence.
Photos by @kinbykin