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Photographer's Note

Gompa’s (Buddhist temple, also called monastery) Senior priest’s presence is almost compulsory in important rituals in villages. Religion is mix of Hinduism and Buddhism. Sometimes the kind presence of Priest’s girlfriend, called “uttam” in local language, few shots of wine and mild regional dance and music adds to the brilliance of occasion. In Buddhist religion, lamas can not opt for marriage throughout their lives. But in rare of the rarest cases the ones who are only caretaker of the family can go back to their villages but have to live life of a lama. Even then if a Lama or a Dawa chooses to go back to worldly life, he has to pay the monitary fine to Gompa which can be anything from few thousand Indian currency to Few Lacs, depending upon the severety of matter and expenditure that Gompa had undertaken until then. Even schools running in close proximity or association of Gompa are very different from others in Non-religious areas. These schools, although run by Govt. are under direct influence of Monastry. Studies up to eighth standard are compulsory for a ‘Dawa’ or Lama kid, but that infact is only so they can understand and communicate well inside monastery and people on behalf of monestery. They can not opt to continue their studies after eighth standard no matter they top the exams or fail completely. Few monasteries are exception to this rule these days and things are changing fast in Spiti and inside Monasteries for good. A Dawa reads many religious books along with school text books during his studies tenture. Female Lamas live in different Monasteries from that of Dawas and they make nuns. Lama or nun, theses people have deep roots in local culture, which shapes our social structure to great extent. They are well respected and get financial assistance for monastery from village. A Dawa or a nun studies religious text books and Pali language in monastery. Because people are encouraged to leave their kids in monastery at very young age, they always have to struggle through the conflict between childhood and hard rules of monastery. Material is seen as root of all sorrows in Buddhism and that is something hard to swallow for most of kids even if they know how does it work. Anyways, abiding by rules is not an option in Monastery, so one learns and adapt to it’s life real fast. So you get to abide by the Law long before you know it.

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Additional Photos by manu awasthy (manu_itu) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 30 W: 1 N: 48] (307)
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